Saturday, June 29, 2024

What I'm Listening To

I have learned, like many another, that having audiobooks to listen to makes exercise much less tedious. Listening to audiobooks also helps me fall asleep, at least sometimes.

And my library's Hoopla has a lot of audiobooks available, so it's not even expensive. I also have an audible subscription, which gets me one book a month pretty cheaply. I've found the reader is a big factor in whether I can stand to listen to these books.

Here's what I've been listening to lately:

John Wiswell, Someone to Build a Nest In, read by Carmen Rose

I'd never read Wiswell before, but this was one of the books my Hoopla made available, so I gave it a listen. Then I liked it so much I read it as well, and added it to my Asimov's review. It's the story of a monster who falls in love with a princess, told from the point of view of the (pretty monstrous) monster. Lots of body horror. Carmen Rose does an amazing job, so if you can listen to this one, rather than reading it, I would.

Tana French, Faithful Place, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds

One of French's Dublin Murder Squad books, though not exactly. A murder detective whose entirely life has been shaped by having been dumped by the girl he loved when he was 17 years old, finds out she didn't dump him, she was murdered.  I'd read this before, and French is great if you can stand the big feels. Reynolds does an excellent job of reading it, but sadly he doesn't read French's other books. 

Richard Adams, Watership Down, Peter Capaldi

Watership Down in the epic novel about rabbits searching for a new home, or rather a utopian space. It's a great book. I've loved Capaldi since the days when he was doing In The Thick of It, and he reads this perfectly. 10/10 no notes.

Connie Willis, The Doomsday Book, read by Jenny Sterlin

I had obviously read this one before, but listening to books is a very different experience from reading them, and I enjoyed this one a lot. As you probably know, this is the story of two epidemics, one in 2090 or so, and one in 1347. That second one is the Black Death. The first time I read this book it broke me in half, so bear in mind that there are lots of deaths, including child deaths. There's also a bit of classicism, which I'm pretty sure is not intentional. Still, a ripping yarn, and Jenny Sterlin's reading is wonderful

Friday, June 28, 2024

The Debate

That was depressing as fuck.

The talk is that Biden had a cold, that usually he isn't that doddering. Okay, I guess. It was still painful to watch. 

Trump, obviously, did nothing but spout one lie after the next, which is pathetic in a different way. Also, the constant lies will make no difference, because Trump voters don't care, and uninformed voters aren't going to read fact checks.

That these are our choices is just depressing. Obviously I'll vote for Biden if the other choice is a con man whose governing principle is to hurt his enemies and fill his own pockets, but is this honestly the best we can do as a country?

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Mom for Liberty Throws a Tantrum

People in a hotel lobby were existing in public in a way this person did not approve of. So she had a screaming fit and was escorted off the hotel grounds by the police. 

Just your reminder that "liberty" means liberty for them, not for you.

Also, remember that no matter what they squeak about how they support gay people, they're coming for everyone in the LGBTQI community, not just trans people.

"Settled law," for today's "conservatives," just means "settled until we get our hands on it."

Meanwhile, what has Biden done for LGBTQI people? (Meanwhile who are the GOP pardoning? Oh, that's right -- murderers and treasonous turnips.)

Monday, June 24, 2024


When I was my kid's age, I couldn't afford health insurance. So I did without.

So long as my only healthcare needs were a cut thumb and bike wreck, that was fine. But when I got cancer, well.

My kid is able to have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. That health care covers pretty much all of his healthcare needs, and the co-pay is less than five dollars. He needed an ultrasound recently, and his Obamacare covered all but four dollars and nineteen cents. It covers 100% of his therapy. He's able to start graduate school because he doesn't have to worry about healthcare.

This is what Trump and the GOP want to take away from us, even though the cost is almost nothing.

See also marriage equality, student loan forgiveness, and the ability to access contraceptives, as well as all the work that has been done on climate change.

You need to ask yourself why the GOP wants to destroy all those things.

Also, I'm seeing a lot of people argue that voting for Biden is just like voting for Trump. All I can say to those people is sweet Jesus, have you been paying attention? I don't love Biden either. I'm still going to vote for him because yes, the lesser of two evils is still less evil.

Yes, I understand that people don't like the situation in the Middle East. Yes, Biden has failed to create a Utopia here in the US. Yes, rent is too high and wages are too low. But if you think Trump will be better, maybe wake the fuck up.

Also, just a reminder, a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump at this point.

WITH the Heat Index

 Just kill me now.

Sunday, June 23, 2024


Days like this, I'm extremely glad we pay for access to a gym. If I had to go out and exercise in the steaming swamp that is the Fort right now, I would stay inside and eat ice cream instead.

Mmm. Ice cream sounds delicious.

My favorite -- you can't get it in the Fort

Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Problem with Walking in My Neighborhood that everyone insists on chatting with me.


Climate Change is Now

 At least it is now officially summer:

See also this:

Dozens of bodies were discovered in Delhi during a two-day stretch this week when even sundown brought no relief from sweltering heat and humidity. Tourists died or went missing as the mercury surged in Greece. Hundreds of pilgrims perished before they could reach Islam’s holiest site, struck down by temperatures as high as 125 degrees.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Insomnia Again

Argh, I'm having insomnia again and nothing is working.

Things I have tried:

  • Exercise (more exercise than usual)
  • Limiting caffeine (I'm reduced to a single up of tea, always before noon)
  • Listening to audiobooks until I fall asleep (this used to work but no longer)
  • No screens after nine p.m. (useless)
  • Hot milk with herbal tea
  • A hot bath
  • Melatonin tablets (useless) (they did used to work, but no more)
I am trying to avoid sleep medications, since recent research is showing they are bad for you long term, but last night -- for example -- I lay in bed listening to a audiobook for two hours, then got up and drank the warm milk, and then lay down again to try for sleep without the audiobook, and then finally got up and did the dishes and laundry. Did not fall asleep until six a.m.


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Summer in Arkansas

In the 90's all this week and a high of 100 predicted for Monday. And still technically spring.

The coldest summer of our future has commenced.

Thirteen weeks until Fall.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

What I'm Reading Now

Josephine Tey, The Franchise Affair

I found this one in a used bookstore. I love Josephine Tey, and I thought I had read everything she had written, but I had missed this one somehow. It's not exactly one of her Inspector Grant novels, though he appears in it briefly -- it's about a 40-something lawyer who takes as a client a 40-something woman and her 80-something mother who have been accused of kidnapping and abusing a 15 year old girl, in an attempt to force her to be their maid. Written in in 1948, it's a charming look at small-town England just after the war. As usual with Tey, it's mostly a conservative point of view, but very readable nonetheless. Liberals are silly, mainly, that kind of thing, but also some religious stuff. I enjoyed this one very much, despite that. 

If you've never read Josephine Tey, start with Miss Pym Disposes, which is her best book. But this one is also very good. (I've read my copy of Miss Pym Disposes to tatters.) They're mystery novels, and there is usually a romance somewhere, and justice always prevails.

Richard Adams, Watership Down

I'm not actually reading this one, I'm listening to it while I exercise. I've read it several times, though. It's an epic novel about rabbits. One of them, based on Cassandra, according to Adams, can see the future, and usually isn't believed. But his brother Hazel believes him this time -- the rabbit, Fiver, sees doom coming to their warren. Hazel, Fiver, and a half dozen other rabbits flee the warren, and for the first half of the book trek across a small area of England. They end up at Watership Down, where they establish a new warren, and that's just the first half of the book.

If you haven't read this one, you should. I'm not kidding about the epic part -- it's structured very like an epic, probably intentionally, as Adams had a classical education and attended Oxford. He based many of the rabbits on people he fought with in WWII. Anyway, a great read, and I'm enjoying listening to it as well.

John Wiswell, Someone You Can Build a Nest In

I also listened to this one, and highly recommend "reading" this book that way -- the narrator is excellent. This is an odd, fascinating book about a monster who falls in love with a princess, more or less, told from the point of view of the monster.  It's the monster's point of view that makes this really work -- she thinks and acts like a monster, and yet we find ourselves on her side. There's some rough bits -- A bit of body horror early on, and some off-stage physical abuse of the princess, plus emotional abuse on-stage -- so be aware of that, but also a happy ending.

This is Wiswell's first novel. I'll be reading his further work.

Stephen King, You Like it Darker

A collection of short stories. King is better at novels than he is at short stories, but these are all readable, if not all excellent. More "literary" rather than "horror" in this collection. He touches on COVID in several stories, and there are some very weird ghosts in one. Also a gruesome death by alligator.

I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I got it from the library rather than shelling out $$$. If you liked King, you'll like this one. And if you don't like King, you might like this one anyway. You can skip the ghosts. 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Father's Day Weekend

The kids are visiting us for the weekend, but they only just realized it's Father's Day weekend today, so it's not for that.

I made them a lovely Dutch Baby for breakfast, and Dr. Skull is going to make a cheesecake for dinner.

Meanwhile it is so hot here. What the hell. It's not even technically summer yet.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How I Will Spend my Summer Without Teaching

I'm not teaching this summer, which is such a relief. I have 12 weeks in front of me with -- shit, what? Oh, okay. It's down to nine weeks now. What the absolute fuck, where did my three weeks go?

I drove to New Orleans for my father's memorial and then I drove home again and then my dog died, and then today I didn't do a gotdamn thing but drink tea and read SF novels.

Right, okay. What will I did with my almost nine weeks that remain?

I'm going to read more SF novels (big surprise) and write reviews for some of them, and I will also work on what might be (knock wood, touch silver, spit) a new novel. Or maybe just a novella. WE WILL SEE.

I will also continue exercising. And I'll visit my kid and the rest of my family up the mountain once a week or so, which is easier now that we have the Subaru. Oh, and I promised Dr. Skull a trip to visit Glen Campbell's grave. (Why? I do not know.)

Speaking of Dr. Skull, Dr. Skull wants to get a new dog. I am against that for the time being, though a pet search program keeps throwing up cute puppies for my perusal. I'm just not ready.

A black mouth cur that Petfinder says I should get

Saturday, June 08, 2024

R.I.P. Heywood Floyd, 2010-2024

My little dog started having seizures and trouble walking yesterday, and today he had a seizure that wouldn't stop. After running tests the emergency vet and I decided it was time.

It never gets any easier to let them go.

In Case You're Confused

The American College of Pediatricians is not a credible organization. And they are not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatricians, though they would like you to conflate the two.

See here:

And also here:

(Blogspot has suddenly stopped allowing me to embed links, I do not know why.)

This is what the Mediabias/Fact check site says about them:

Reasoning: Hate Group, Poor Sourcing, Pseudoscience, Failed Fact Checks
Bias Rating: FAR-RIGHT
Factual Reporting: LOW

Among other things, the American College of Pediatricians spread the lie that the vaccine for HPV causes infertility.

And the group was specifically founded by sixty doctors who wanted to oppose marriage equality. They exist to spread lies and bigotry about LGBTQ people. They're also a very tiny organization -- there are more than sixty of them now, but not much more. (700, in 2002, as opposed to over 70,000 in the AAP.) 

Anyway, if they're braying about trans kids now, it's (a) not a surprise and (2) lies and bullshit.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Down in New Orleans

Day One: We drove ten hours, through intermittent torrential downpours, reaching New Orleans in time to eat at the Kosher Cajun before it closed. The storms were blinding -- my windshield wipers couldn't keep up with them -- but brief. Driving through Memphis without being able to see more than a few feet ahead of the Subaru was a real treat. However, we survived. 

I had a lovely tongue sandwich at the Kosher Cajun, highly recommend. We're staying at a hotel about three minutes from a very small Trader Joe's, which we visited after dinner.

It is so hot here. SO HOT. The temperature is only 90 degrees, but the air is thick as soup. I did not miss the weather in New Orleans, city of my dreams.

Day Two: We had breakfast at the hotel -- Residence Inn does a nice free breakfast -- and then drove Uncle Charger to the French Quarter. Then Dr. Skull and I drove around visiting places either he or I wanted to visit  while we were in town. This included Trader Joe's and the giant Barnes & Noble. I finally burned through all my Barnes & Noble gift cards. We visited Zuppardo's (Zuppardos,com), which is the grocery store my mother always shopped at, and where my brother Mike worked as an adolescent. It has been rebuilt and is not the tiny crowded grocery of my childhood.

The Zupppardo's of my Childhood

Current Zuppardo's

In the evening we met my sole surviving brother and his wife for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. A big gusty thunderstorm hit as we were driving home. 0/10 do not recommend. Driving in New Orleans is a real treat, by the way. And I mean that with ever ounce of sarcasm in my bones.

Day Three: The ceremony was at three, so in the morning we went to a used bookstore, but it was closed, and then back to the Barnes & Noble instead, and also the Kosher Cajun one more time. Then we came back to the hotel to dress, and went on to the ceremony. Lots of my father's friend and co-workers showed up, none of whom I knew, but it was a nice ceremony. Dr. Skull told his favorite stories about my father, including the time he blew up part of a building testing an O-ring, and how he and my father would go buy ice together. Afterwards, we all went to a very loud and smoky bar and grill, the River Shack, which was one of the places my father liked to hang out. (They had Dixie on tap.)

We came back to the hotel and I fell asleep at 8:30.

Day Four: Since I had gone to bed so early, I woke at 4:00 in the morning. We ate the free breakfast at the hotel, and got on the road by 8:00. Aside from a torrential downpour while we were on the twin span crossing the spillway, and a very exciting roadkill (a giant alligator), our trip home was uneventful. We came back via I-49 because Dr. Skull wanted to visit Glen Campbell's grave ("Who?" the kid said), but in the end we were too tired and just came on into town.

the Twin Span

Upon arrival, we found the house had lost power during the big storm on Monday, but was otherwise okay. Now we are waiting for the AC to cool the house down to a bearable level.

We boarded the dog and the cats, but we can't pick them up until tomorrow. I am going to spend the evening reading novels and eating ice cream.