Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Sky! It's Falling!

Or about to catch on fire, I am not sure which.

For well over a month now, the highs in Fuck Smith have been over a hundred degrees. No end in sight either. This month, my electric bill was $377.00. Which is more than half my rent, just to give you a yard stick. And that is with the AC turned up to just barely tolerable, and fans buzzing away in every room, and all of us going around in such skimpy clothing that we shock the mailman and even so it takes until about 2:00 a.m. until the house is cool enough to sleep at night.

And then, in DC, apparently the Rethuglicans have decided to destroy the country just to show they can. Because they're thugs, and don't have anything else to do with their giant dicks.

And meanwhile, out here in the real world, none of us have enough money to pay the medical bills and the power bills and the rent and buy groceries. That's those of us with jobs. Because lots of us don't have jobs. Which I guess the Rethugs forgot that bit.

Or maybe they don't think it's true? The way they think Algore made up global warming? Because it's not hot in their chilly little enclave? And they have plenty of money, so obviously poverty's not an issue?

Here. Watch this for me. I'm off to stew in this fucking heat wave some more.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

So I've been doing Aikido for, what, three weeks now? Maybe a bit more.

It's a salutary experience.

Aside from physics, aerobics, and that logic class when I was 20, I don't think I've ever actually done anything I've been bad at. I don't mean a little bad, either: I mean as in astoundingly bad, wincingly bad, OMG worst in the class you gotta be kidding bad. I really suck.

And physics, aerobics, and that logic class I all quit, like, at once. As soon as I realized I was hopeless, I was fucking out of there. Yeah, no, okay, let's not, I said, and that was that.

But aikido, it's kind of like the algebra and finite math classes I took when I was 19. See, I wanted to do those (I also kind of had to, if I was going to get a degree) so I stuck it out; and also I started getting better at them almost at once, which helped a lot.

With aikido, I'm not getting better very much faster. Maybe a little better, which is nice. I mean, I'm not the worst person in the class anymore. (Only because a newer worser student has added. But still!)

The salutary part! For the very first time in my life, I can see what it is like for someone to want to be able to do something, to be actually trying to do something, and to not be able to do it.

Yeah, I know, smack me with a clue stick. And I've got it coming. Especially given I'm a fucking teacher, I should know better. And I have always tried to give my students the benefit of believing they were trying. But that's different, of course, from this: knowing what's like on the other side. I just can't do any better than I am doing.

Well, okay, maybe this is what it is like for my students who write me those sad emails, saying, I don't know what you mean by write an essay explaining how to fix a specific problem in my life -- how do I do that? What problem in my life?

Maybe that's just exactly like me saying to sensei I don't know what you mean by katatori ichio. What do I do with my feet exactly? Where do I grab? Turn which way now? I don't get it...

My friend Zelda used to talk about all kinds of literacy. This is what she meant.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Novel! They reviews it!

Every time I see someone mentioning my novel anywhere I start to giggle.

Because, jeez, wow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So Much Coolness!

I'm still chortling with delight every time I run into one of those new film clips you can find, sometimes, on entries on Wikipedia.

(Or this one!)

It's like living in the future!

(I'm such a geek.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Here's a Shocker

Over in Georgia, a real shocker has developed: schools where administration has been encouraging and even forcing teachers to cheat on those mandatory standardized tests in order to inflate the scores on which the school's funding is based.

Can I get a d'oh?

When you based a school's funding on how well students do on a given assessment, WTF do you think will happen next?

Here in Arkansas, the governor and the legislature has just decided to base 25% of the funding of the higher education on our graduation rates. Yes, that's right. How many students we graduate determines how much money we get from the state.

WTF do you think happens next?

Even if professors have integrity (and I happen to think most do) if they don't have tenure (and these days most of us do not) what happens when the dean calls a professor or an instructor into their office and says something to the effect of, you've been giving too many D's and F's, this kid had some bad breaks, give him another chance. Let him take the final again.

Or: This kid didn't mean to plagiarize. He just didn't understand the rules. Let him write the paper again.

Or: This kid had too much pressure on him, that's why he missed half your classes. Give him a B instead of that F.

Do you think the professor says No, I won't?

And if the professors (or adjunct instructor) does -- what do you think happens next?

Because it would be nice if higher ed (or education) was about learning and the transmission of knowledge and enlightenment.

It would be nice if pigs could fly too.


A review of my novel!

Go here.

(He likes it.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Book!

Look here! You can buy it!

Or on Kindle!

Or from Smashwords.

(Isn't Martin so hot? I love that cover.)

You can also hear my Outer Alliance Podcast interview about the book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Twenty Years of Hair!

Bart Leib is donating 20 years of hair if you buy Broken Slate this Friday!

Well, if enough of you do, anyway.

Go here for details.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Party! For My Novel!

Look here! It's a party for Broken Slate!

If you're at ReaderCon, you should go.

Good News, Bad News

I got an excellent rejection today. I guess that's good news AND bad news.

Plus it got to 104 degrees again here today (got to 107 yesterday). I think we're all gonna cook, frankly.

I'm working on my novel and it's going so well nothing can upset me. I love it when the writing is working!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hey, Coolness

Look! My novel has its own FB page.

(I swear I didn't create it!)

Oh, And While We're ON This Point

God, do I want a job somewhere where half the year it is not so hot your ass blisters when you sit down in your car.

If the universe could arrange to send me that job BEFORE next summer, that would rock.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Living In the Climate Change

So I've started Aikido, as I think I probably mentioned. And I love it to bits, it's probably the most interesting physical activity I have ever done. But (you heard a but coming, didn't you?) my shit is it exhausting.

We meet four times a week for two hours each session. The entire two hours, except for a brief bit at the beginning, where we stretch, is spent either throwing people or being thrown. Once you're thrown -- getting thrown doesn't really hurt much when you're a white belt, which I am -- but once you're thrown, you have to get up from the mat. Now that sounds easy enough, until you have done it like 75 times. I come home from each session so exhausted I am loopy. And my muscles haven't stopped aching yet, though sensei promises me eventually they will. After I'm dead, maybe he means?

Anyway! The point of the post! It's been 100 degree or over that for nearly a month here, and will be a hundred degree or over that for the next ten days at least, and sensei likes to turn off the AC in the dojo after the kid's session is over. Yesterday, Thursday, it was 102 when we set out for Aikido (I always check) and even after the sun set it was still frakking hot. By the time we're done, we're all soaked with sweat. But during the session, interestingly, though you're sweating, of course, you don't notice the heat. Too busy working I guess. "Didn't get above 90 in here," sensei noted, after the session. The giant thermostat on the wall said 89 degrees.

Now this is not true of mental labor, I can assure you. When I'm writing or or editing or reading for class, if the tempature gets above 75, I stop being functional. Which is adding up to some huge electric bills at chez delagar, may I mention. Because this is the hottest June/July I can remember, and no end to it in sight.

I guess this is also living in the future. But not one I like.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What, Already?

It's the first day of Summer II. I'm only doing one class this semester, but it's WLIT II, so very dense on the reading. Lighter on the essays. Eh, it's a trade-off.

We went up to Fayetteville yesterday and visited my parents. Also saw Uncle Charger and went to the movies (lots and lots and lots of theaters in Fayetteville, including a massive new stadium theater called the Malco Razorback with a giant fountain in its center, like something out of the Roman Empire, which is where we went). We saw Midnight in Paris, in one of those tiny little auditoriums that seat like 75 people, all of them exactly like us -- i.e. liberals and probably English professors or at least Art History majors who wish they could live in Paris. We all laughed in delight as Gil, our hero, met one of our old friends after the next. My kid, who was sitting next to me, kept leaning over to whisper to me, confirming her guesses about who each person was. And, when the movie was over, she said, wistfully, "Let's move to Paris."

I wish, kid.

Then we left the theater to go out into the blistering 101 degree Arkansas July, blasting sunlight, a huge field-sized parking lot filled with SUVs, to drive down College Avenue, a highway filled with car dealerships, liquor stores, fast-food shops, and strip malls. The closest we'll ever come to Paris is Paris, Arkansas.

Which is, among other reasons, why this solemn little apology for our betters and why it isn't right that they pay their share of running this country really got down my neck this morning. Oh, it's so sad that Mr. and Mrs. Jones can barely make ends meet on $250, 000.00/year -- after, you know, socking away $8000.00/per kid in college savings a year, and investing the maximum amount in their 401(k) accounts, mind you -- they're so poor, what with the high cost of living in Manhattan, they can't afford expensive vaccations, it's tragic.

Though of course if they moved to Texas or Alabama (the horror) they'd have plenty of money, the article adds. But who can actually do that, the article hints.

I can't afford a dentist, much less to sock away $8000.00 for college savings for my kids. ($8000.00/year is my rent.) I don't have a house. I don't put any money in my 401(k). If you don't count TIAA-CREF, I don't have a 401(k) -- and my university puts money in that, I can't afford to match it. I haven't gone anywhere on a vacation, if you don't count the odd trip up to Fayetteville to see a movie, in almost three years now. And mind you, I count myself well off enough, because I can look around me and see my students, who are living on, probably, a fourth of what I make. They're the actual poor. I'm doing all right, even if I feel kind of desperate toward the end of the month (okay, by the third week in the month, usually, these days).

But it's Mr. and Mrs. Jones we're supposed to feel sorry for?

Shit. The idiots who write these articles don't have a clue.

And neither, frankly, sad as I am to say it, does Woody Allen. Move to Paris? Like that's a choice most people in America even have.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Oh Boy!

I have finished grading!

Normally this is a big deal, since it signals the start of the between-semester break, or several weeks of pure uninterrupted writing time.

However: in the summer sessions, between-semesters equals three days, so, well, big deal.

In other news! I have started Aikido. My kid, as long term readers know, has been doing Aikido since she was five. Recently she has begun transitioning into the adult class, which seemed a good time for me to join the dojo along with her. (Her in the kid's class and me in the adult class would be impossible, since I'd be going to four adult sessions and driving her to two separate kid sessions, basically ten hours a week on five separate days of the week, impossible in our already over-crowded schedule.)

Anyway! I love Aikido. But man, what a workout. I don't think I've ever done anything, not even during my brief stint of laying roof, that is this physically exhausting. Certainly running the five-K was not this tiring, or riding cross country, thirty miles a day, as I used to do in my prime. That was nothing compared to this.

Sensei Greg says I'll get used to it soon, though. And I believe him.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ooo! Look at This!

My novel! Let me show it to you!

I just got the actual physical objects, the novel copies themselves, in a package from Bart & Kay, my publishers, in the mail today; but here, you can see what the book looks like on the announcement page over on Crossed Genres.

It's so pretty!