Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Kid Adopts a Cat

 My kid and his boyfriend have adopted a kitten/young cat. I am officially a grandma.

Friday, July 29, 2022


 It is still raining! Over 40 days with no rain here -- the grass died, the trees were shedding their leaves -- and now it's going to rain for two days straight. With highs in the 80s both days!

After that we're back to highs in the 100s, but you can't have everything. (Where would you put it?)


It's raining here. Actual rain!

And only eight more weeks of summer.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Interview with Ruthanna Emrys

My interview with Ruthanna Emrys is live today!

Emrys is the author of A Half-Built Garden, among other books. Out today, A Half-Built Garden is not your father's first-contact novel. All y'all should have a look at it. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Health Care Costs

The kid's boyfriend got an ear infection. After suffering for several days, he went to a local walk-in clinic. The kid's boyfriend has health insurance (through his parents -- he's 21). With the health insurance, this walk-in appointment cost him $116 dollars. The medication for his ears, of course, had a co-pay.

The kid's boyfriend has a minimum wage job. (He has not been able to afford college,) So that's well more than he makes in a day.

For an earache.

Health care in this country is not accessible for a huge portion of the population.

Thursday, July 21, 2022


It is raining -- just a little, but the temperature has dropped to 80 degrees. Practically winter!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

How to Survive a Heat Dome

Murderously hot weather continues. I took my dog outside (he's blind now, so we have to carry him outside and then stay with him so he doesn't get confused) yesterday afternoon, and a hot wind was blowing across the city, fever hot against my face. 106 degrees at four in the afternoon.

Today will have a high of 103, says the weather channel. Tomorrow is cooler, if we can count a high of 99 as cool. And then back up into the 100s.

How are we surviving? Some tips for living in an old house in Arkansas during a heat emergency (that's what the weather guy called it yesterday -- more than 30 without rain, and killer temps every day):

(1) Eat cold or frozen foods. I've been living on watermelon, cheese, salad, and popsicles. Sometimes I eat pistachios as well. I keep thinking I will have some peas and rice for dinner, after it cools off, but it doesn't cool off until well past midnight, so I never do.

(2) Wear as little as possible. I had two sleeveless shirts and a pair of loose shorts that I wear around the house. 

(3) If you have to go outside, don't stand in the sun. Find some shade. You won't be cool, but you won't get heatstroke either. Also, don't stand in the sun if you're wearing sleeveless shirts, unless you like getting a sunburn in ten minutes.

(4) Don't leave the house after 10:00 in the morning. You can leave after sunset if you have to, but what's opening in your useless town after 8:30? Not much, and I'm speaking from experience here. There's a drugstore which is open all night, and it sells very bad ice cream. Not worth the trip. Get everything done at dawn if you can.

(5) If you do have to leave the house after 10:00 in the morning, take it slow. Park your car in the shade if you can. Drink a lot of water. Be kind to each other. 

(6) The gym has an indoor swimming pool. Unfortunately, this means you will have to go to the gym at 3:00, since the pool is scheduled for classes until then. See above concerning leaving the house after 10:00 a.m.

(7) To save a little $$$, turn off most of your window units at dawn. Keep the curtains drawn after 10:00, especially those on the southwest side of the house. Don't use appliances if you can help it. Eat off paper plates so you won't have to use the dishwasher more than twice a week. Since you're not wearing any clothes and you're showering at the gym, you won't need to do laundry very often either. Yay!

(8) Take naps.

(9) Obsessively check the weather reports. Maybe the forecast will change! Maybe it will only be 95 degrees next week!

(10) Remember fall is only -- checks notes -- nine weeks away!

Monday, July 18, 2022

More Weather Complaints

We're having a high of 109 here tomorrow (that's 43 degrees to anyone living in a sane country), and highs of 100+ through the end of the month. Plus it hasn't rained for nearly 30 days. The grass in my yard crunches under my feet like toast. Smells like toast, too.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Pro-Life Arguments

 "We're not forcing that many raped children to continue their pregnancies" is not the winning argument "Pro-life" turnips seem to think it is.

But honestly this is the same argument they make about everything. There aren't that many trans people, so who cares if they have civil rights? There aren't that many disabled people, do we really need to build all these ramps? It's not like a lot of people practice vote fraud, so --

Oh, wait. Not that last one. EVEN ONE CASE of fraud means we have to destroy the entire system of democracy in order to save it.


Summer in the Fort

The weather forecast for the foreseeable future is highs over 100. From now through the end of the month, 100+ weather. Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, the high will be 108 degrees.

We have air conditioning, but it can't handle this level of heat -- last night, when I went to bed at midnight, the temperature in the bedroom was 80 degrees. Also, my power bill this month was $361.00.

How hot is it? I'm stopped drinking hot coffee in the morning. Now I drink iced fizzy water.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

What I'm Reading Now

 K.J. Parker, Savages

This is a K.J. Parker that I somehow managed to overlook -- I've read all of Parker except the fencing trilogy (I read the first one in that) and his trilogy about the guy who wakes up with amnesia, which got way too dark for me. This one is a little dark, but very engaging. It follows some guys through ten or fifteen years of their lives, during which two "savage" nations tangle with a giant empire which has just bankrupted itself, in terms of both men and money, in fighting another giant empire. A lot here about logistics and the problems of fighting wars with mercenaries and the horrific behavior of soldiers and nations. Parker is terrible with women; this one has more women than usual, but they're just as bad as his women always are. It's like he's never met a woman? I don't know.

Parker does not write the sort of books I normally enjoy, but these seize hold of you and suck you in. He's the sort of writer it's hard to stop reading.

I also really like his Aram peoples ( one of the "savage" groups) and their culture.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

This is a re-read, technically. I read it in graduate school, one summer when I was reading all of Tolstoy. But that was over 20 years ago, and I remembered almost nothing about it. I did remember Kitty and Levin getting engaged by writing in "code" to each other with chalk on the green card table, but that's about it.

Anyway, this is an amazing book. Like Middlemarch, it captures an entire society and the world that created that society. It's hard to even pick out bits to talk about, because the whole thing is such a wonderfully constructed piece. 

The main subject, as the famous first line hints, is family. Why are some families happy and others not? What makes a family "happy"? 

We have three main families in the novel, though several other families do show up. First, Anna and her families -- first with her husband Karenin, and second with her lover Vronsky. With Karenin, she has a son; with Vronsky, a daughter. 

The second family is Dolly and Stiva, and their billions of children. (I think it's actually six? But Dolly also has children who die, so.) Stiva also has a number of affairs, which Dolly decides she must just endure, since she's not able to support her kids on her own. 

Finally, there is Kitty and Levin. They don't marry until halfway through the book, but much of the book concerns their prospective marriage -- for instance, Kitty's failure to accept Levin's initial proposal begins warping her life at once, and Tolstoy spends a great deal of time showing us what her life might be like if she fails to marry Levin. (Not terrible! But also very different.) Then, once they are married, we see what the first years of a successful marriage are like. This part of the book is very realistic.

Are these families happy or unhappy? That's kind of the joke, I think, if joke is the right word. Happy and unhappy, like everyone. But on the balance, Anna's families are more unhappy than happy, and the blame for this seems to lie, not with Anna, but with her cold and bitter first husband, Alexie Karenin. He is doing what his society tells him is "honorable" when he refuses to divorce Anna; and in his refusal to give her access to her son; but this results in misery not just for Anna but for him and his son as well.

Similarly, Dolly's family is mostly happy, and again, this is because of Dolly, who decides she must forgive her straying husband. And Kitty and Levin are mostly happy because they both work hard at not lying to each other, and not hurting one another on purpose (though they do hurt each other, that's just how relationships work).

One of my favorite parts of the novel is when Kitty accepts Levin's second proposal, and he's crazed with joy. He doesn't sleep and can't eat. At one point, we're told, he puts a piece of bun in his mouth, but his "mouth didn't know what to do with it," so he spat it out again.

I also like that Tolstoy gives us the point of view of Levin's dog, Laska, more than once. Her exasperation and tolerance of her stupid human is wonderful.

I didn't really like, but I found interesting, the discussions of whether women should be educated. Tolstoy clearly thinks not -- education will lead women away from their proper work, which is caring for their families -- but it's also clear, in the book, that education would have been the salvation of many of the women we meet.

Oh, and there's also a delightful bit where Anna explains to Dolly just how it is that Anna can make sure she has no more children. It's entirely off the page, but it's clear that Anna is talking about birth control. (I don't know what kind of birth control, because we get a series of asterisks instead of the actual dialogue.) Dolly is astonished, having clearly had no idea that such a thing was possible. So that's why some families only have one or two children! she thinks. 

Anyway, a wonderful book. It's like a thousand pages long, but very much worth the time.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Arkansas Summer

Christ, y'all:

That's 11 out of the next 13 days with the temperature over 100 degrees. And the two that aren't are at 99 degrees.

Seventy more days before we can start even thinking about fall weather. Not sure I can make it.

Saturday, July 09, 2022

More French

This is the French grammar book I bought from Thriftbooks:

It's proving really helpful with my understanding of verbs. I skipped the chapters on nouns and pronouns, since I've got a pretty good grip on those. I'm also not doing the exercises, though I do glance at them.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Reposting on Trans and LGBTQ and Gender

 I wrote this post in 2019, but as the situation has not only continued but grown even worse, I'm reposting it: Trans, Bi, Genderfluid, Cis, Gay, Lesbian

Interestingly, on Twitter recently a TERF insisted I had to be trans, after I pointed out her arguments about trans people were 100% incorrect. I said I wasn't trans, I just thought people should have equal rights. She said I was a man, and therefore I should shut up about this, since I had no idea what women were worried about. Then she blocked me.

Anyway, the above is a lengthy read, I know.

Here's an excerpt:

Why are TERFs and transphobes so bothered by the existence of trans people and LGB people? Why do they get so rage-filled and out of control when facts and evidence are presented to them?

There's a certain sort of person, usually an authoritarian-raised person, who clings to boundaries and rules. (The authoritarian person "categorizes the world with the simplicity and rigidity of a five year old child.") Any violation of these rules, however minor, terrifies them. We see this with people who call for draconian punishments for minor crimes: if someone can run a stop sign with impunity, these people claim, or use illegal drugs and not suffer for it, then our culture (nay, our world) is doomed. (Thus the authoritarians who embrace of leaders such as Roberto Duerte, for instance, who summarily executes drug addicts on the street.)

For these people, gender rules must be strictly enforced. If a young boy can wear nail polish with impunity, then our entire culture is at risk. 

Thursday, July 07, 2022

The Perils of Spending Your Life Reading Books

I now need four pairs of glasses: one for seeing distance, one for seeing the computer screen, one for reading books, and one for being outside in the sun.

I'm still able to see and read, though. Fingers crossed.


Heard this morning that my research release for Spring 2023 had been approved -- this is a course release that will allow me more time to write novels. So WOOHOO!

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

God I Hate Summer

I have rearranged my living room so that my new writing station is directly under the heat pump (which despite its name is actually our main air conditioner). Now instead of being 77 degrees at three in the afternoon my space is 74 degrees at three in the afternoon.

My new writing space

This is because it's been over 100 degrees here for the past three days and will continue to be over 100 for the next six days. 

Last night at midnight it was 89 degrees outside. And 77 degrees in our bedroom. We have a window unit in the bedroom, but it just can't keep up with the heat.

Sixty-eight days until we can reasonably expect the summer heat to ease, just a little. But who's counting?

Where I used to write 

Monday, July 04, 2022

Fourth of July

We're going up the hill for the 4th, to hang out with my brother and SIL and the kids. Usually on the 4th we do nothing. Having family in the area is nice!

Continues to be murderously hot, however, so there will be no cook-out. We'll eat inside, in the AC, like people living in the future.

Dr. Skull is making a fruit tart, and SIL (I need a pseudonym for her) is making baked ziti and her wonderful Greek salad. (SIL is Greek.)

Sunday, July 03, 2022

French Update

 I have ordered a French grammar via Thrift Books. We'll see if that will help me defeat the dreaded subjunctive.

Losing Hope

I used to believe if we just presented the facts with enough clarity, we could make conservatives understand why they were wrong. Once they understood that what they were doing was wrong, I thought, they would stop what they were doing.

It was just a matter of explaining to them that what they believed was not in fact true. Show them that LGBT people aren't dangerous predators. Explain to them that no one has an abortion at 40 weeks just so they can fit into a prom dress. Give them the data to show that the "war on drugs," far from stopping drug abuse, is making the use of illegal drugs more common and more dangerous. Explain to them what a legitimate source is, and why Fox News and Steven Crowder and the Daily Mail are not legitimate sources.

Surely, once they understand, once they see that they're being lied to, once they know they're being conned, surely they will stop....

No. They won't. They are perfectly aware that they're being told lies. They like those lies. They don't even actually believe the lies. They just like the social and economic and psychological benefits they get from pretending those lies are true.

This is why arguing with conservatives does no good. They already *know* we're right. They already *know* what they're claiming is true is pure bullshit. They just don't care.

For someone who has staked her life on education, evidence-based knowledge, and the belief that people will do what is right if they know what the right thing to do is, this is a pretty depressing realization.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Weather Report

 Aw, jeez, y'all:

That's 12 straight days of 100+ weather, and no end in sight.

Climate change is just a myth being pushed by the Left, though. So no need to fret.