Sunday, December 31, 2023

My Kid Does Art


Watercolor on paper.

I believe this is from one of the photographs I took on one of the many camping with my brother Mike. California, maybe? Or maybe Colorado.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Best Posts of 2023

 These are the top posts (as judged by me!) of 2023!


Culture War Idiocy  (The Right has a fake moral panic about gas stoves)


Just Saying (the fake moral panic about trans kids)


I write about The Fablemans


What I did on Sunday


What My Students Do Not Know (a partial list)


Arkansas Ban Overturned


Ignorance is Conservative


I Write a Poem

ties with Children's Books I have Known


I Interview Martha Wells


I discover an Important Fact


Banning Books from the Left


Story Sale! (I finally sell a story to Clarkesworld)

Ties with Public Transit

Thanks for reading, all y'all! See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2023

We Fulfill the Commandment

 There's a meme that goes with this, about Jews having to eat Chinese on Christmas, and what sort of acts fulfill the commandment, but I can't find it. (Update: I found it! See below.)

Anyway, we ate Chinese from a new takeout place. It was tasty!

Update: Here is the meme!


Jack Abramowitz  Dec. 13, 2018  New York, New

York Okay, let’s review the laws of eating Chinese food on December 25th.

Beis Shammai say that one must eat both an appetizer

and an entree; Beis Hillel say an appetizer or an entree.  Others say that one fulfills his obligation even with won ton soup alone.  The halacha follows the others.

There is a machlokes as to whether one can fulfill his

obligation by eating fortune cookies.  Our practice is to be machmir in this matter.

The mitzvah is to eat Chinese food on Christmas Day.  If one

ate Chinese food on Christmas Eve, he has not fulfilled his

obligation until he eats from his leftovers the next day.  The leftovers need not be reheated but one who does so is praiseworthy.

If one ate sushi, Indian, or Thai, he has fulfilled

his obligation after the fact (b’dieved).  If one ate pizza, burgers or Mexican, he has not fulfilled his obligation.  Rabbi Meir says that one fulfills his obligation with Mexican because it is exotic.  B’shaas had’chak, a shaila must be asked.

End transcript.

Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel were schools, one could say are schools of thought, named for their founders.

Machlokes (machloket): a dispute or disagreement about

Jewish law

Machmir: exceeding the bare minimum requirement

B’dieved: after the fact (in an acceptable but not

ideal manner)

B’shaas had’chak: in extenuating circumstances

Shaila: a question

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Late Hanukkah

 The kids had to work during actual Hanukkah, so we had a late Hanukkah dinner with them here on Christmas eve. The kid and I made latkes, Dr. Skull made brisket and matzah ball soup, which the kid helped with, and the kid's boyfriend made deviled eggs. (He has unwisely revealed to me that he knows how to make excellent deviled eggs, so now I compel him to make them on every occasion.) 

It's cold and rainy here. Tomorrow the boyfriend flies out at dawn, to visit family in Pennsylvania.

Previous to the actual meal -- you can see the Hanukkah candles burning

the famous deviled eggs -- that's my mother's deviled egg plate

Latkes frying in the pan



Image: Delightful Ron DeSantis analysis here: "This quote pretty much sums it up: if the great promise of the DeSantis campaign was Trump without the baggage...what the Republicans got was Ted Cruz without the personality." 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Florida Man Teaches History

 From Alas, a Blog -- history from real Americans:

Earlier this month, a new study by PEN America revealed that there had been at least 5,894 book bans in US public schools from July 2021 to June 2023, with more than 40% of them in Florida, birthplace of a rightwing parents group called Moms for Liberty.

The books targeted are frequently those which tackle issues like racism, gender or LGBTQ+ rights.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

What I'm Reading Now

Nick Fuller Googins, The Great Transition

This one is really good. It's Googins' first novel, which both delights and saddens me. (More novels to come -- yay! -- no backlist to read -- boo!) Set in the near future, which is to say about thirty years from now, it is the story both of those who are fighting to save the planet as its ecosystems collapse due to global climate change, and the story of the daughter of two of those fighters, sixteen years later. 

The climate science seems accurate and more than a little scary. The fact that we will have to change the world to save the world also seems accurate. And Googins is a skilled writer, one who gives us both great pacing, good characters, and a lot of great detail. Also, the novel asks an important question -- what should be done about those who do wrong? Do we forgive, or do we take vengeance? The answer we get is not the standard one, fair warning.

Highly recommended. 


Tien Pham, Family Style

This is a memoir about how Tien and his family fled from Viet Nam at the end of the war there, traveling first to a refugee camp and then to the US, where his parents struggle to stay afloat, and Tien and his brother navigate the US school system and US teen culture. The parents work a variety of jobs before buying their own business, which grows to several businesses (the kids work in the stores); Tien and his brother shrug off their culture in an effort to be good Americans. Tien eventually begins to regret forgetting his mother tongue and the Vietnamese culture, but that's not the point of the graphic novel. That journey from refugee to US citizen is the point.

Nice art and good narrative techniques here. If I were going to teach a class in graphic novels, I'd include this one. (Who knows, I might be. I'm teaching script workshop in this spring, so why not graphic novels?)

Kate Collins, A Good House for Children

This is a horror story about a house that devours people. It's really well written and engaging, and it's set it England, with a prototypical small English village in Dorset, all the stuff I like, but I could not finish it because it was too scary. Great characters. I wanted to keep reading, because I wanted to know what happens to them, but I couldn't take it. I'm a lot less able to put up with scary stories these days apparently. If you don't mind scary this might be for you.

Stacy McAnulty, Forever Twelve

A boarding school, immortals, secrets in the past. This is a YA novel about kids who have been twelve years old (more or less) for a couple hundred years, who all meet up to attend this boarding school every few decades, just so they can hang out with one another. It's a lot harder to be an immortal twelve year old in the 21st century than it was in say, the 18th century, when kids could work at factories and no one would blink an eye. Also, being ten to twelve years old forever -- an immortal prepubescent -- is not as much fun as you might think, which is the central plot of this novel. I liked this one a lot. There's going to be a sequel, which I will definitely seek out.

John Scalzi, Starter Villain

Scalzi novels are kind of like potato chips: tasty, not very filling, enjoyable, pretty much all the same. Sure, one flavor is BBQ and another is Sour Cream & Onion, but basically it's a chip. 

By which I mean to say that I always enjoy Scalzi's novels, and that's pretty much what they're for, and I enjoyed this one too. A down-on-his-luck guy who wants to turn his life around by buying the pub in his hometown instead has his life turned around when his rich uncle dies and leaves him a request behest -- that is, do this, and you'll get a (relatively) small reward. Relatively compared to the uncle's fortune, which runs into the trillions.

Fulfilling the request leads to the guy (a typical Scalzi everyman) having to become a villain (his uncle's word) at a Batcave like facility on an island with live volcano. There are talking (well, typing) cats, intelligent dolphins and whales who want to form a union, and many plots twists. It's a lot of fun, if not especially deep. Recommended if that's what you're looking right now.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Currently Thinking about Next Semester

Next semester I am teaching two Comp I classes. What I've been doing for the past few years, and what works really well, is I'm forcing the entire class to research and write a paper on a specific subject, which I choose -- like, this past semester, they had to choose an invasive species and either write an informative paper about the effect of that species on the environment, or a solution to the invasion. I made them read a lot of scientific papers and some general media about feral hogs and the hippos in Columbia, and they proposed and researched some invasive species of their own.

As I said, it works pretty well, because they have a limited field in which they can choose a topic, and so I don't get a bunch of shit papers like "why social media is bad" or "abortion is murder" or "gun control just means only criminals have guns."

Also it cuts down on plagiarism. When they have to propose a topic in the first weeks of class, and then find a source on that topic and write an evaluation of it as a source; and then write an annotated bibliography for that topic; and then write an essay map for that topic, and so on, it both teaches them how a research paper is written and keeps them from buying a paper off the net or having an AI write it for them, since they have to write all the steps along the way first.

Though some of them don't bother to do these steps and just give me the final paper. But then they fail the class, so.

ANYWAY: I'm trying to think of a topic for this coming semester. I don't do the same topics in consecutive semesters, because we do have frats and sororities on campus, so I don't want to tempt people into using the essay banks I know those groups have.

I have two ideas in mind right now.

(1) The problem of plastics in the environment

(2) The causes/solutions for poverty

The second seems a really interesting topic, especially for this moment in time; but about half my students are working class and about half come from the wealthy or religious families in town who don't want to send their kids up the hill to the flagship because they want their kids to stay under their thumbs. So I'll have a bunch of kids raised up with the prosperity gospel who think being poor is a crime/sin, and a bunch of kids who have been raised up in households without enough money who also think being poor is a crime/sin. The topic will make both sets emotional, is what I'm saying. They won't be able to look at the question impartially, and being emotional will mean they won't be able to think about the question. They'll just emote at it.

Plastics is better. It's still a current problem, and even though they'll STILL get emotional (because many of them are conservative, and thus thinking about harm done to the environment is a crime/sin), they'll get less emotional about that. And it's an interesting topic. I can use the research to show them why there's no simple answer here -- why, for instance, banning straws won't solve the problem, and why "vegan leather" is a terrible idea, and why we can't, in fact, just stop using plastic.

But there's no real solution, and plastic is in fact terrible for the environment, so it will be a depressing semester.

I should find a third topic, I guess.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Grading Accomplished

I have submitted my grades. Also made bagels, done about ten loads of laundry, and mopped the floor. I even made dinner one night. Anything to keep from grading, apparently.

But it's done, and now I can devote all my time to writing, reading up on how to write screenplays, reading novels, and exercising.

At least until January 10th.

Anti-Trans Laws AKA State-enforced Bigotry

 Missouri has proposed a law that will fire teachers, nurses, and social workers if they call a child by any name other than that on their school records -- so, for instance, Tim instead of Timothy -- or if they fail to "report" any child's deviant gender performance. These fired people will be suspended from being rehired for four years.

Transphobes have gone from "We shouldn't silence people!" who want to call kids by "wrong" names or pronouns to "We MUST silence people!" who call kids by names and pronouns we don't like.

"That's unenforceable!" nice liberals insist, but they're forgetting how laws work in the US. Of course no teacher will be fired for saying "Tim" instead of "Timothy." (Unless, of course, they're a black teacher or a gay teacher or a trans teacher or a teacher the principal just doesn't like.) Instead, this law will be used to go after trans kids and after teachers, nurses, and social workers who support trans kids.

That's the purpose of the law. To punish and harass trans kids and those who support them. To stop anyone from supporting trans kids, and to make those trans kids afraid.

And if you think this stops with kids, you're pretty fucking delusional. It's just like Roe v. Wade. Once the reactionaries won with abortion, they moved on to birth control. Once they win with birth control, they'll move on to policing what sort of jobs the gestating can hold, what sort of food they can eat, where they're allowed to be -- fascism doesn't stop, y'all. It's goal is total control, and there is always a new neck to step on.

ETA: More on the subject:

Saturday, December 16, 2023


At this very moment I am

  • grading final papers
  • doing laundry
  • making bagels
  • listening to music
  • drinking tea
  • re-reading bits of a SFF novel which I plan to review this evening
Life in the fast lane, y'all.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Thermostat Conflict

One item on the "Is this a viable life partner?" check list ought to be thermostat settings.

In the summer this is not a problem for Dr. Skull and me, since it is impossible to get the house as cold as I would actually like it, and also way too expensive.

But in the winter this is a conversation we usually have six or seven times a week:

DR. SKULL: It's cold in here.

ME: It's 70 degrees! (It is actually 66 degrees.)

DR. SKULL: It's so cold in here. Why is it so cold in here?

ME: It's fine.

DR. SKULL: Can't we turn the heat up?

ME: Put on a sweatshirt. You're going around in a teeshirt and shorts and complaining it's cold. Where's your schmata?

DR. SKULL: (grumbling as he goes to look for his hoodie) I'm freezing to death.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Story Sale!!

I just sold a story to Clarkesworld, a market I have been trying to crack for literally years.


Supreme Court Takes Mifepristone Case

In the year 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone as a safe and effective drug. Mifepristone is a abortion pill typically used for medical abortions or to complete partial miscarriages in the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Last year, anti-abortion crusaders sued to have the drug removed from the market, saying the FDA had acted too quickly. Mind you, this is a drug that has been used all over the world since the 1990s, and which has undergone multiple clinical trials, all showing it is safe to use, with side effects occurring in less than one percent of patients.

Now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. The petitioner for the medication (which is on the WHO's list of essential medications) have also asked the Court to decide whether the anti-abortion crusaders have standing to sue.

“You can’t just bring random lawsuits in court. You actually have to have been harmed by something,” said Greer Donley, an associate law professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. “That’s really what standing analysis is all about, to try to figure out if if the people who bring the lawsuit actually have a stake in the case.” Numerous legal experts have questioned whether the challengers in this case have properly demonstrated that they have been harmed by mifepristone’s continued legality.

The anti-abortion crowd are not being harmed by this medication, which none of them have taken (or at least none of them will admit to have taken). No, what is being harmed is their ability to force other people to do as they are told -- told, that is, by these anti-abortion fanatics. 

What is being harmed is their ability to control the lives of other people. 

They believe they should be given the power to control the lives of those they consider inferior -- women, the poor, the working class, LGBTQ people. Not being allowed to control the bodies of those groups is the harm being done to them. And that -- not zygotes or fetuses -- is their real concern. If women and the working class and poor people and LGBTQ people are allowed to control their own bodies, they might begin to think they can control their own lives. They might even think they should have civil rights and equal protection under the law. 

This is also why they're infuriated by trans people. If people are men or women because they say they're men or woman, well, how will these people know which people are by nature inferior and subject to control? 

This is why they get more furious about trans women than they do about trans men (although they also hate trans men, don't worry). Trans women violate their belief about how the world works. Trans women both are and are not an inferior gender -- if they're women, they should be controlled; if they're men, they should do the controlling. But to control a trans woman -- how can they do that? 

Traditionally they have controlled women through rape, the threat of rape; forced pregnancy and the threat of forced pregnancy; and violence. They can't force trans women into pregnancy, and while they can threaten rape, that's another conflict for this group, since they don't want to admit rape exists. 

They can, of course, still use violence and the threat of violence, which they do. And they can and do use the legal system as a form of violence -- to control trans women (and trans men) by that method. Hence all the fucking laws being put in place over the past few years.

I've avoided using the word "conservative" to talk about these people. They aren't conservatives. They're reactionaries and fascists. They don't want to conserve. They want to control, and they are perfectly happy to strip away the civil rights of others as well as to drive this country back to the nineteenth century if that is what it takes to allow them to control those they consider property.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

At the Laundromat

I had to wash the slipcover for my sofa, which I used to wash once a year but until today had not been washed since before the pandemic. It has to be washed at a laundromat with oversized machines because it's just too big and heavy for any normal machine.

Anyway, so I hadn't been to a laundromat since before the pandemic and holy hell, y'all, the prices have more than doubled. It used to be $3.50 to use the big machine. Now it's $8.00. I also took the rest of my laundry, so long as I was there, and the regular machines are now $4.00. They used to be $1.50.

The dryers are now ten minutes for fifty cents. I think they used to be fifteen minutes for fifty cents, but I'm not sure about that. The big dryer, which I have to use for the slipcover, is $3.75 for 30 minutes. I don't remember what it used to be.

Anyway, the entire experience took me two hours and cost me over $30.00, counting the cold brew coffee I bought at the gas station on the way.

Besides me, the clientele was mostly mothers with small children, though there was one guy who looked like he worked on oil rigs. I remember going to the laundromat with my mother when we were small; she would buy us candy from a snack machine, and there was a corner with toys for all the kids. No snack machine in this laundry, and no toys for the kids. They ran up and down screaming instead, and seemed to have just as much fun as I did with the toy garage and blocks.

Monday, December 11, 2023


 The Washington Post has a lengthy article on the flawed research being used by Evangelicals to claim that home-schooling provides a better education than public schools do. 

That link is a gifted one, so y'all should be able to read it even if you don't subscribe to the Post. But the gist of the article is that the studies being used by Evangelicals are flawed. The non-Evangelicals who look at the research point out that the samples are small, and the Christian "researchers" are cherry-picking their data.

Interestingly, when Nebraska put forth a proposed law saying that any home-schooled student who scored under 40% on the standardized tests should have to be moved to traditional schooling, the Evangelical homeschoolers fought the proposal. It's almost as if they don't believe their own propaganda about their kids scoring higher than traditionally schooled kids on such exams.

I hate standardized testing, too, mind you; and my own kid was homeschooled for four years, as long-time readers know. But we hired a math tutor for him during those years, and an art tutor, and he sat in on some of my university classes. And we didn't do it because we thought the public schools sucked, but for other reasons.

Meanwhile, though, because Arkansas does require every homeschooled child to show up once a year and take a standardized test, I got to meet some of the local parents doing homeschooling. I wouldn't have trusted most of those people to raise a dog, frankly, much less educate children. And in my years here at this university, I have met many, many home-schooled children. Some were very well educated -- but, as the Post article notes, these are kids, like mine, who probably would have done well in any system: kids with educated parents from middle-class or upper-class families. Those aren't the kids we need to worry about, in other words.

No, it's the ones I met on standardized testing days -- the ones whose parents aren't educated, who don't have funding to provide books or tutors, or who have so many children that their kids end up serving as maids and nannies instead of being educated. I've had those students, too -- ones who have been miseducated by their parents, ones who can't understand the difference between fact and opinion, or evidence and belief: who insist that belief is, in fact, evidence. Those are the children being failed by home-schooling. 

It's true that public school also has its flaws. No one denies that. But for a large segment of children -- the ones who won't do well in any education system -- it's going to be better than homeschooling.

And that's not even mentioning the homeschooled kids who are subject to isolation and abuse. That's an entirely different post.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Winter Break is Almost Here

The last day of classes was this past Thursday, and my last papers will come in on December 14. This means that winter break is in sight. Thank God.

The best part of being an academic, in my opinion, is winter break. Nearly a month of leisure right in the darkest part of the year. It is bliss. I plan to spend the time writing book reviews, the short story/novella I am currently at work on, and my next Velocity novel. The kid and his sweetie are coming down for a few days, and the kid will stay with us while his fiancé flies home for a visit with his family. I might also sort through our books and clothing and take a couple boxes to the local Savers. Maybe we will even drive up to Crystal Bridges to the museum. It could happen!

Friday, December 08, 2023

What About Public Transit?

Nicole & Maggie have a post up today about public transit/greener options for moving your people around your city. I left a comment over there, about the method being used up the hill, in the city where our state's flagship university is located, Fayetteville. 

You can go over there and read it, but basically, the university owns and runs a fleet of free buses ("free" in that they are partly paid for in student fees and partly by tax dollars from the city) which anyone in the city can use, not just students. They and the city also own, together, bunches of public bicycles, electric bicycles, and scooters, which again, anyone can use. I think there's a small (like a twenty-five cents an hour) charge for using them, which can be paid for with a debit card or money put on student ID cards. 

And the city and the university together built and maintain an extensive series of bike trails which cover most of the city and link up to nearby cities -- these are dedicated trails, where cars are not allowed. The problem with most bike "lanes is that they share the road with cars, which is dangerous for the biker, obviously. These trails are for foot, bicycle, or scooters only. Well, I've also seen people on rollerblades. But no cars allowed.

The result is that by using the university buses and the bike trails, most of the city is accessible to people who don't own or don't want to drive cars. And the university itself, while it has parking lots, charges so much for parking stickers (like hundreds of dollars) that many students, professors, and university staff do use the buses and the bike trails. My kid, who works at the university now, takes the bus to work and walks home each day. (Walking to work is a problem, since it's pretty much totally uphill.)

This is the sort of public transit/green option that can work for a small-ish city in the South. Light rail, when it works, is wonderful -- I spent some time in DC and in New York when I was in my 20s and 30s, and I loved, loved, loved their transit system -- but it's not practical for the sort of city we have here in Arkansas, with less than a hundred thousand people per city. (Much less than that in most cities here).

That said, traffic in Fayetteville is still horrendous. Many of the students are rich kids, so they all own cars; and there has been a lot of development due to Wal-Mart money, so all the cow pasture that used to surround the city is now being built up into housing for those kids, as well as for all the workers who support those kids; as well as for Wal-Mart executives and all the workers to support them. Since many, many people live in Fayetteville but work for Wal-Mart in Bentonville, the roads are jammed at rush hours and lunch hours and indeed much of the time. 

A nice light rail between Fayetteville and Bentonville would be lovely, but is also unlikely, since even with the hugely increased population (more than doubled since I was a student there) there's not a large enough population to support it. And also, Arkansas is definitely a car culture. All around me, here in this working class neighborhood, I see people renting a house for maybe eight hundred dollars a month, with three to five massive vehicles parked outside, each one probably with an average car payment of four or five hundred a month. 

And the city doesn't run many school buses here. Instead, someone, some parent or grandparent, drives the kid to school in one of those huge SUVs or trucks and picks them up, every day, with the result that certain roads are just not useable in the hour or so surround drop off and pick-up days -- lines of cars half a mile long in some places block traffic on the two-lane roads that surround the schools. (There are buses available, but you have to live more than two miles from the school, so they aren't used much. And no parent is here letting their child walk to school. Honestly, the only kids I see walking to or from school are immigrant children. And no child can ride a bike here -- we don't have sidewalks, or even bike lanes. Many kids never even learn to ride a bike, because nowhere here is safe to ride. My kid, for instance, never did.

There was an initiative here several years ago to put in bike trails, similar to those in Fayetteville. But of course our voters voted it down, just as they voted down the proposed tax to give more money to libraries. No public goods here, thank you. What are we, communists?

So I own a bike, but there is nowhere I can really ride it -- it's just not safe to take a bike on the local streets, none of which have bike lanes, and most of which have no sidewalks -- and we pretty much have to drive everywhere. When I took the Disability and Diversity workshop this semester, one of our assignments was to figure out how to get from various places to our university via public transit, and holy hell, is our public transit system a joke. For example, it only runs until five-thirty, and only starts running at seven-thirty. To get from my old neighborhood to the university, you would have to ride the bus down to the central station, then catch another bus out to the university -- it would take about two hours. Cost is $1.25, with a free transfer, each way; or a monthly bus pass which costs $35.00. And even with that, you couldn't take a night class, and no one could realistically use that as transportation for a job.

So you have to own a car here. Hence the lawns filled with massive cars, and the workers burdened with massive car payments. 

But at least we're not all paying an extra six or seven dollars a year in our taxes for any kind of public transport system, I guess.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Office Hours

Today I'm holding walk-in conferences for my comp students and editing students, except no one is walking in. I have had one student who wants to know if I can meet them on Monday instead. (Today is the last day of classes. So, yeah, no, I cannot.)

Anyway: my point! Would it be inappropriate for me to lie down on the floor and nap? (Due to insomnia I got almost no sleep last night, and the two pots of coffee I have drunk so far are really not doing it.)

God, I'm so sleepy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

What I'm Writing Now

I submitted my novel, the third in the Escape Velocity series, and I wrote and submitted a short story. Now I am starting the fourth Velocity novel AND apparently writing a novella. Why must I write novellas? What is WRONG with me?

I'm also writing book reviews for Asimov's and for Interzone, so I am reading and re-reading a ton of SF/F books, toward that end.

And I am grading final papers as well as the final packets for my fiction workshop. Also, I am teaching Script Workshop next semester, which should be very interesting, as I have never actually written a script on my own, although I kind of helped Dr. Skull write one, back in the previous century, about vampires who were long-haul truckers. 

So I might be writing a script soon, is what I'm saying, since I find it useful to have done the things I am trying to teach other writers to do.

Meanwhile, while I have you here, should I compel them to write screenplays or should I allow those who want to write scripts for graphic novels to do that instead? I am thinking not, because if we are all writing the same sort of thing, the workshop might cohere better. But maybe?

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Teaching Twelve Hour Days

All of my classes are on Tuesdays-Thursdays, by request -- this is a favor the chair does for me, so that I can have four-day writing blocks, from Friday through Monday. But this means I get to school before dawn in the winter, arriving, usually, at just after 6:30 a.m. It's dark and cold, and the drive to school is short enough that the car never warms up. I am shivering the whole way.

My office is overheated, though. I have to pull off my jacket and gloves and hat and the woolen jersey I wear under all this, to keep from breaking into a sweat. The office is dark, the building is silent. I say good morning to the cleaning person, who is usually emptying yesterday's trash cans at this point.

I make coffee and drink it while I watch the sun turn the trees outside my office window gold against the blue sky. This is my favorite moment of the day. It's almost worth getting up so early. Almost.

Also, is there anything better than hot coffee on a winter morning?

I spent the hours between 6:30 and 9:30 prepping for classes and maybe grading some papers. I say "grading," but I don't actually grade the essays my freshman write, not exactly. I give them feedback and assign a temporary grade -- like, this is the grade this would get if I were grading it -- and then send the paper back to them to be revised and resubmitted. 

At 9:30, I teach my first section of Comp I. Right now we are working on revision practices for their major papers. I talk a little about reverse outlines, higher order concerns v. lower order concerns, and then settle them into their "workshops" to deal with at least one problem in each of their respective papers. I wander around the room, dealing with problems that stump the workshops.

At 11:00, I do all this again with the second section of Comp II.

From 12:15 until 2:00, I eat oranges in my office and do more prep/grading. 

At 2:00, I teach my Editing class. We're working on Light v. Heavy editing right now. My most talented student is having trouble with this, since they want to go heavy on every edit. What does light editing mean? they demanded. Am I just supposed to leave errors in the manuscript? I attempt to explain, but they remain confused and frustrated. They have the right answers, how can they not share them? That sort of thing. Believe me, I understand.

At 3:15, I return home to take the dog out and check on Dr. Skull, who is at his computer even though he's supposed to be sitting with his feet elevated so his toes will heal. I grumble at him, he says he'll elevated his feet from now on, which I don't believe for one damn minute.

At 4:30, I return to school to prep for Fiction Workshop, which starts at 5:25. It's supposed to run until 8:15, but by skipping the mid-class break, I get us out by 7:30, usually. We workshop four or five stories, and talk about the reading, which this week is Jesse Stuart's "Split Cherry Tree." None of them have ever read it. Apparently no one reads Jesse Stuart anymore. None of them have even ever heard of him. They all like the story, though. I make a mental note to add Stuart to my list of stories to assign to undergraduates.

At about 8:00, I arrive home. I'm so exhausted I feel like I've been hit by sticks all day. Dr. Skull has gone to bed, usually without eating dinner. I feed the dog, I feed myself, I watch an episode of Deadwood. I lie on the couch listening to an audiobook (Connie Willis's The Doomsday Book at the moment) until I fall asleep, sometimes around midnight.

I guess that's actually a 13 hour teaching day. But it's 12 hours if we don't count the hour I spend at home yelling at Dr. Skull and dealing with the dog.

I really do prefer this schedule, due to the time it gives me to write. But my God is it a long day.

Update on Dr Skull

His toes are much better, which is good, because I could not get through to our primary care doctor either. The phone rang and rang, then went to the answering machine, and then hung up before I could leave a message.

If they weren't healing, which they seem to be now, I would take him to the ER. But we're following our primary care doctor's advice, except for taking him to wound care, which is to change the dressings once a day, keep his feet elevated, and have him walk around every half hour or so, which helps with circulation. Seems to be working.

Also, UGH.

Friday, December 01, 2023

American Health Care is the BEST IN THE WORLD

Okay, so Dr. Skull has these scrapes on his toes that aren't healing, so we went to our primary care person, who referred us to Wound Care (who knew that was a thing). Wound Care contacted me this morning to tell me they couldn't fit us in for three weeks, and maybe not then. It depends on our insurance, they said. I told them what insurance we have, but they aren't the insurance person, so they had no idea if Mercy takes our insurance, or if our insurance will approve Wound Care.

I asked them what I should do. They advised me to call our primary care person again. So I did. But they don't work on Fridays.

I foresee a trip to the ER in our future. 

Good thing we don't have that evil socialized medicine, I guess.

Commissions from My Kid

You can commission my kid, who will do art for you!

Here's the link.

Here's a sample of his art.

He also did my icon, and could create one for you, too!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Buy My Books

 Polyamory, found families, spaceships -- what more do you want?

If you buy them from the publisher, you're supporting a small press!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

My Kid Does Art

I commissioned these -- they're marker on paper, done from photographs I took myself. The Green Night one is of our house from the rear with a migraine bulb burning in a lamp. Snowy evening is from another photo I took, last winter when it snowed so much.

 His Patreon page is here.

Conversation at the delagar Household

(Scene: In the bedroom, DR. SKULL is getting ready to lie down for a nap. DELAGAR enters stage left. DR. SKULL gives her a look of mild surprise.)

Dr. Skull: Oh!

(DELAGAR glances at him in inquiry)

Dr. Skull: I thought you were gone.

delagar: Where would I go? It's Sunday, and I already went to Wal-Mart.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Giving November

Apparently November 28 is the "National Day of Giving." Who knew!

I've been giving all along, but if you're looking for places to give, might I recommend giving cash (rather than canned goods) to your local food bank? If you want to give food, give things that can be eaten without cooking, and especially canned or boxed milk; or sanitary items. Partners in Health is also a good organization.

Give also to the ACLU, who are fighting for us all. 

And buy comics for the children of Gaza.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Turning into my Father

I remember one time when the SIL and I were cooking, and I put down a potholder on the counter, only one corner of it was touching the stove top. "Don't put that there," my father snapped at me. "What if someone turns the stove on?"

I snatched the potholder away. "Why would someone turn the stove on if a potholder was on it?" I snapped back.

I have just returned from the kitchen, where I snapped at Dr. Skull for putting a sheet of paper with a recipe scrawled on it on the stove top. "Don't put that there!" I snapped. "What if someone turns the stove on?"

(In my father's defense, there were about a dozen people in the house, including two small children. In my defense, it's just me and Dr. Skull here. Uh, wait...)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving for Everyone Who Doesn't Work Retail!

We're having Thanksgiving on Saturday this year because the Kid's fiancé has to work Thanksgiving Day. He's not in retail; he works for a small business that boards dogs, and of course they're busy over holidays; so it's not unexpected. He'd probably have to work (or someone would have to work) even if it weren't for Black Friday nonsense. 

My nephew and my SIL may be able to come down; and Uncle Charger is coming down. The kid and I are going to do most of the cooking this year, as Dr. Skull is still finding it hard to get around (he's got an issue with a disc in his back). I'm not sure what we will cook. I should think about that soon.

Meanwhile, winter is here -- it froze last night, and today the high is predicted to be in the 40s. My cats are not pleased. I had terrible insomnia last night, so I was awake when the icy weather arrived. I took the dog out around four a.m. and the world was frozen and still, the sky absolutely clear and filled with stars. I enjoyed it, even though I was so tired my bones ached.

Stupid insomnia. 

The Trapper, Rockwell Kent

Monday, November 20, 2023

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Comics for Gaza's Children

My kid has comics in this bundle -- you can get 121 comics for $10, with all the proceeds going to help the children in Gaza.

Get some comics, do some good!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

What I'm (Not) Reading Now

Over the past decade I have noticed that I start a great many more books* than I finish. I used to finish most of the books I read -- at least 90%, I'd say. Now, looking at the last 20 books I've checked out of the library (excluding cookbooks), I see that I have finished nine. 

(I'm only able to do this because our library page now has a "Reading History" link for everyone's account. I'm not sure how I feel about this. In theory, this data is available only to me. In fact, obviously, if the data exists, it can be made available to anyone. In these days when Moms for Liberty and indeed the entire "conservative" camp, is looking to make certain ways of existing a legal offense, collecting data in this fashion worries me, just a bit.)

If we go back 50 books, for a broader sample, I have finished 24/50. (Again, excluding cookbooks.) 

If we go back 100 -- excluding cookbooks and re-reads -- it's 42/100, but some of those are re-reads, so I don't know how to evaluate that number. Let's stick with 24/50. I'm finishing less than half the (new) books I check out of the library.

Is this because the quality of books being published is worse than it was ten years ago? 


But there are other possibilities: 

(1) I am less exacting about the books I check out than I used to be. I'm pretty sure this is true, since I can remember noticing that when I "took a chance" on a book I wasn't sure I would like, sometimes I really, really liked it, and that gave me a new writer, even a new genre, to read. (I'm looking at Georgette Heyer here.) So it's possible I'm taking more chances on what I check out.

(2) I'm less interested in finishing books I'm not enjoying. This is to say, I've given myself permission not to finish a book if I'm not having a good time. File under life-is-too-short.

(3) I'm reading, or at least sampling, books in the SF/F books I would not have checked out before, because I'm looking for books I might want to use in a review. This would explain an increase in DNF over the past couple years, since I started reviewing seriously for two SF magazines. I'd say maybe five or six books out of the hundred fit that category. On the other hand, I finished a couple of books I would not have, because I was hoping to review them. So that probably washes out.

It could also be that books are in fact getting worse. I don't think you can prove it with my data, is all I'm saying.

*I thought about giving examples of the books I wasn't finishing here, but I think that would be too mean. It may have nothing to do with the quality of the books. It may just be that I'm the wrong reader for whatever the book is. Anyway, if you're an author googling for your book, your book is wonderful! I'm absolutely not talking about your book here!