Wednesday, January 31, 2024


It's 66 degrees here, sunny and crisp, at the end of January. Forecast calls for 68 tomorrow, on the first day of February.

Perfectly normal, nothing to see here, move along please.

Friday, January 26, 2024

What I'm Reading Now: Agatha Christie

Right now, I'm reading books to review elsewhere and lot of Agatha Christie -- Murder in the Vicarage, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Crooked House, and several others. 

(1) She's uneven. Murder at the Vicarage and Crooked House were both very good. Towards Zero was okay, with a nice twist, and then a rushed and somewhat unbelievable ending. Though I did enjoy it when the detective pushed a suspect overboard to see if he could swim. That was pretty funny. And Then There Were None was tedious, besides featuring some blatant racism. I'm trying to track whether the earlier work is better or the later work is, but so far I'm not seeing a pattern. I guess sometimes she had good ideas and sometimes she didn't? Maybe she had deadlines and had to put out substandard work on occasion.

(2) There's casual racism and casual sexism throughout the work, usually by characters we aren't supposed to think of as reliable narrators, but sometimes by those we are. I guess know this going into the books, if you're planning to read them?

(3) Miss Marple is a lot of fun. Kind of like Columbo, frankly, if you know that TV character. Everyone expects her to be dithery and inept, but she's extremely ept. Of all her reoccurring characters, Miss Marple is my favorite. Murder at the Vicarage is the first book she's in, and one of the best by Christie I've read so far. The other characters are Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence, and a few others. I've only read one with Inspector Battle in it, so far; and half of one with Tommy and Tuppence. I really disliked that one, The Secret Adversary; but it was one of Christie's first books. Maybe Tommy and Tuppence get less annoying later. 

(4) She reminds me of Angela Thirkell, a bit. Same class issues, same ability to create that between-the-wars culture which is so much fun to read about. (So far I've only read the books that were written from 1921 through the the 40s.) Dorothy Sayers is better, and less racist. Still, there are dozens left I haven't read at our library, so I'll probably keep reading. 

They're lightweight reading, which is something I need from time to time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Seen on Social Media

"Wokeness is the GOP substitute for higher wages."

Which, yeah. That's legit.

The GOP isn't going to fix anything, or God Forbid conserve anything. Instead, it's going to give its voters something to be angry about. Increased levels of hate and bigotry = votes for GOP candidates.

A sad commentary on contemporary politics.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Ice Day

 My university shut down again today, this time due to ice. 

There is indeed a lot of ice out there, so it makes sense.

I remember in my first year teaching at this university, when I was teaching six sections of comp and working nine or ten hours a day, I'd get to work at six a.m. Back then, this was before the university cancelled classes the night before. So I drove to work one morning over sheer fucking ice -- like two inches of ice on every road -- and got to work and sat shivering for about an hour, before a passing fellow instructor informed me that classes had been cancelled due to the ice.

So then I had to drive home again, still over ice, with two huge hills between me and the campus.

It was delightful.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

My Streak on Duolingo Is Now 1367 Days

...and not only did I read this comic when it showed up on my FB, I laughed afterwards.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Semester Commences

It is still extremely cold here, plus there will be an ice storm on Monday, but my online classes and the online portion of my F2F classes have begun submitting work.

As has been true for the past six or seven years, I am pleased at how literate and willing to work my students are. I allow them to revise work that's below an A if they want to try for a higher grade, and most of them jump at the chance. They're good at reading and -- mostly -- pretty good at writing.

That's not every student, of course. But it's so many more of them than it was when I first started teaching. Our public schools must be doing something right. 

Of course, at this point, I've taught a sizeable percentage of the English teachers in those schools. Maybe I'm just impressed because they're good in the areas I care most about, which is to say evaluating sources for credibility, writing coherent grammatical sentences, and building good paragraphs.

ETA: I'm also surprised at how technologically inept most of them are. The online generation has to be walked through so many aspects of everyday technology. We should be teaching that in school, not how to do taxes or write cursive.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Highs in the...40s? NO WAY!

Forecast calls for a high of 42 today. Maybe the ice on my road will melt.

I hope so, because I am nearly out of butter. Note to self: next time we have a snow emergency, buy milk, bread, and butter. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Still Effing Cold

 I'm waiting to hear if the university is going to be open tomorrow. I hope it is, mostly because my university laptop is refusing to connect to the internet. (I am writing this on my ancient personal laptop.)

Meanwhile, have some links!

Comic about dealing with life when everything is terrible

Why Americans are Getting Shorter

Leftists Who Turn Right

Snowday Gingerbread 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Interzone 297

 I have book reviews in this issue:

Reviews of

  • Fortune's Favor, Jo Graham
  • The Jinn-Bot of Shanitport, Samit Basu
  • Atoms Never Touch, micha cardenas
  • Getting by in Tligolian, Roppatucha Greenberg
  • These Fragile Graces, This Fugitive Heart, Izzy Wasserstein
  • Floating Hotel, Grace Curtis
  • Generation Ship, Michael Mammay
Lots of good fiction in there too!

Still Frozen

Record lows here today. Right now it's nine degrees.

It's certainly cold inside the house, though I have two space heaters running and the split unit and the gas furnace. Outside, snow everywhere, including on the road that leads out. 

Yesterday I saw the fox trot across the snowy yard, very beautiful in red, gold, and back against all that white.

Ice on the Inside of my Windows

Monday, January 15, 2024

More Snow

Il neige.

And it's ten degrees. 61 degrees inside the house.


So Cold

 It's five degrees outside right now, at midnight. 

That's -15 for you non-Americans.

Or too fucking cold, even for me.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Snowy Day

When I woke up this morning, it was 10 degrees outside, and 58 degrees inside. There was ice frozen on the insides of our windows. 

I kicked up the heat and added my space heater. Soon it was 64 inside. I drank coffee and wrote wearing my fingerless gloves and my thermal hat.

Around noon, it began to snow. Snowed all day, and it is still about 12 degrees outside. The state police are begging people to stay off the road.

Fine with me. I made black beans and then later oatmeal cookies, and also drank a lot of hot tea and milk.

The cats are quite displeased with me. Surely I can manage the weather better than this?

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Snow and Ice

Today is a high of 55, and it's sunny and clear out there.

But Friday we get ice and snow; and Sunday more snow, with a low of one degree; and Monday a low of negative six. 

I anticipate consuming a great deal of hot chocolate and potato soup.

Maybe I'll talk Dr. Skull into teaching me how to make French bread.

ETA: I forgot to say, I took the Kia Sportage back today and the Enterprise guy says they sell their cars off after a year. He's going to hook me up with their guy. It's very nearly within our price range, so I'm thinking about it.

Monday, January 08, 2024


 It is cold and rainy here and supposed to snow tomorrow, also on Friday, and also next Monday. Plus very low temps in between. 

We rented a Kia Sportage, which Dr. Skull has no trouble getting in and out of, and I like driving. The little dashboard computer gives me frequent advice, pointing out when I'm speeding, or too close to the car in front of me; and about every 30 minute it suggests I have been driving too long, and maybe I should take a break. Plus a back-up camera. Plus SO MUCH ROOM. We hauled a desk up to the kid that I'd been promising him he could have as soon as we figured out a way to get it up there. It's my old writing desk, but now I write with my feet up and my laptop actually in my lap.

Desk in the Kid's Apartment

The Mustang has a bad thermostat, which is why the check engine light was on and why it was running cold. Cost to repair: somewhere on the wrong side of $400. 

I opened a savings account with the money from my mother, and it's already earning interest. Plus this gives us time to look around before we buy the new car.

Friday, January 05, 2024


 This is the first snow of the year -- just enough to cover the ground, and it's already melting.

I think this might be the earliest we've ever gotten snow here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

What Car Should I Buy?

We got a payout from my mother's estate and I am going to use it to buy a new car. I haven't bought a car since 2003, when we bought a used Mitsubishi from Hertz. Our 2008 Mustang, which I inherited from my brother, still runs, but it has frequent problems -- right now the Check Engine light is on, for instance, so we're having to rent a car to get it looked at.

It seems I can buy a new Kia Soul for about $25,000. My main aim is finding a car Dr. Skull can get in and out of easily -- he has knee and back problems. But I'd also like one that will last about 20 years.

Anyone have any advice?

Monday, January 01, 2024

Happy New Year!

Here we go again.

Inspired by Nicole & Maggie's post: my top five posts in 2023. Top five = those the most people read, or at least clicked on.

Just Saying

Children's Books I have Known

Pride Month Continues (an anomaly, I think, and also its link is no longer active)

Post-Racial America (from 2009!)

American Health Care (also from 2009)

If we restrict ourselves to 2023, I'd add these two

Robots and Mean Teenagers (Link is also not active anymore)

The Kid Gets Published

If we eliminate posts connected to my appearing in the Pride Storybundle, we'd add these:

Ugh, Cars

Side Effect: Exercise

This is an improvement, since for literally years my top post has been that one about Dennis Prager getting a divorce, and yet continuing to tout himself as the moral expert on marriage. I think he's actually gotten several divorces at this point. Anyway, I suspect that one has fallen in the stats because people who follow Prager no longer read anything written by non-MAGA Americans.

Anyway, happy new year!