An experiment

So.  Uh.  The first day of school was today, and Open House and the first teacher day were yesterday, and Aretha fucking Franklin died today, and all of those things are sort of rattling around in my head and clamoring for my attention and demanding to be blogged about, and those are probably coming, don’t get me wrong, but instead?  This:

Every so often I get asked about whether I’ve got my books available on audio, and I have to say no.  And that’s always sort of stuck in my craw, and a couple of times I’ve tried to get auditions at Audible and not really gotten anywhere– I got a few submissions for Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 when I tried it the first time, and I think I was probably being a bit too picky about the voice, and at any rate right now I have no one knocking down my door to record my books for me.

But I’ve got this professional-quality microphone right here on my desk, not being used often enough for the money I spent for it, and so screw it, I recorded one of the stories from Balremesh and other stories myself, and I don’t know a thing about audio or audiobooks so maybe you give this a listen and let me know if it sucks or not?  Be as brutal as you like; I’ve got no ego about it.  If I suck, I’d like to be stopped from doing it again.  🙂

(One thing, tho: there is going to be a volume difference between the introduction and the actual story.  I didn’t necessarily put it there on purpose, but once I realized it was there I left it in because I wasn’t sure if people would prefer one recording level over another and I figured that might be useful data.  So if you have a preference, or if one is way too loud or way too quiet, let me know.)

ALSO:  If you were one of my Patrons, you’d have had access to this for a couple of weeks now!  Wanna join the coolest group of Patrons on the planet?  You can, for just a buck a month!

A slightly unfair early review of my new Chromebook

Chromebook-15_gallery_03Eh.  It’s fine.

Okay, I can probably come up with more to say than that– since I was specifically asked in comments yesterday to provide my thoughts on the new toy, and since hell if I know what else I might blog about tonight otherwise.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time this year messing around with, learning, and teaching Google tools (along with a lot of other stuff) and it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to talk myself into buying a Chromebook so that I can see what Google’s tools look like on hardware Google crafted especially for them.  Plus I got paid $200 for the training I was at over the last couple of days, so I figure that paid for the computer.  Yes: I bought a laptop that cost $200.  The point of Chromebooks is that they’re supposed to be cheap, and while my easily-available options ranged up to $750 and I actually looked pretty hard at one in the $450 range, I did actually end up buying the second-least-expensive one I could.  It’s an Acer Chromebook 15, and not the one that’s a two-in-one and can be folded into a tablet and that comes with a nicer screen.  The tablet mode is utterly useless to me and I don’t need a high-def screen for something that will be used purely to handle non-computing-intensive, non-video-related tasks.  The one I bought supposedly has a touchscreen; I have not touched it and it’s entirely possible that I never will.  I don’t know why a laptop would have a touchscreen and I don’t want one.

However: in general, I’m pretty pleased with it despite the lack of enthusiasm in the first paragraph.  The monitor is huge, the laptop is reasonably light, and most importantly after eight hours of basically constant use today the battery was still at 70%, which impressed me, particularly since working on documents that other people are editing at the same time has been murdering the battery on my Macbook Pro.  The keyboard isn’t all that much different in responsiveness and feel than my Macbook (which surprised me; I’m picky about keyboards) and in general the build quality feels pretty nice for something I only dropped $200 for.  I would expect it to be built from cardboard at that price.  I have some concerns about the power supply– the plug that actually goes into the laptop feels kinda dodgy– but I noticed no other obvious issues in a day of pounding on the thing.  It could definitely be a bit faster, but again: $200.  If you’re deeply or exclusively tied into the Google ecosystem, you could do worse than this little machine to navigate through your day.

If I hate it in a week, I’ll make sure to let y’all know.

Same as it ever was

UnknownMeeting today was surprisingly productive, honestly.  I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that, but it was nice to go to an all-day teacher meeting and, other than introductions in the morning running a trifle longer than they needed to be, not feel like my time was being wasted at any point.  I think I’m going to like this job.

Also, the whole day was a constant whipsaw between “holy shit, nothing ever changes around here” and the odd feeling that by being gone two years I had missed out on everything changing.  At the same time.  Which was deeply weird.

Also, my day started at eight, and I’m tired as hell.  Morning coffee is going to go back to being a high priority for me, I think, after a couple of years of it not being especially essential.  Also returning to my daily lifestyle: my laptop bag, which as of today contains not only the Macbook Pro and iPad Pro I already owned but also a Chromebook.  Because I need to be a nerd across multiple operating systems, dammit!  But Google certification for my Clark Kent identity is in my near future, and I’ll be spending a lot of time screwing around with Chromebooks this year, so I figured I ought to pick up a relatively inexpensive one.  So: new hotness.  I will be The Master of The Googlez by the end of the month.

And then I got home and no dog greeted me at the door and everything was sad again.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before I stop noticing she’s gone.

It is Sunday and I am not at work

IMG_7562We went to the zoo today.  I haven’t been to the zoo in two damn years, and I love our zoo.  I am probably going to have a sunburn on the top of my bald-ass head tomorrow and I feel good about it.

They have two peacocks; they just let them wander around.

A brief note about the dog, if you’ll indulge me again a bit: you may recall that while I was finishing up that piece yesterday the doorbell rang and I didn’t answer the door.  That wasn’t an invention for the piece; it actually happened.  My wife and son were out of the house for a little while and they got home just a few minutes later.

There was a vase of fresh flowers on our doorstep, delivered to us on behalf of our vet’s office.  The dog had been gone for maybe three hours.  Guys, if you live anywhere near me, and you have pets, you could do a lot worse than letting Clayview Animal Clinic take care of them.

Tomorrow should be an exciting day: I actually get to find out what my job is!  I’m not teaching this year, as you’re probably aware if you’ve been paying attention, and while I know the broad outlines of the new position it’s not necessarily immediately clear what I’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis.  For example: the first day of school?  I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be doing right now on the first day of school, or really even the first couple of weeks.  I mean, I’m on the administrative team in a school; there’s gonna be stuff to do if I decide I wanna do things (and I do,) but none of those things will be my job.  The next couple of days I’m in training for my specific position and I’ll be much clearer on what my day-to-day job is going to look like by the time it’s over.

So yeah.  I’m excited.

What’s your week looking like?

Snarf, 2004-2018



For reasons that aren’t really clear to me– I live my life online, and I write about goddamned everything— I don’t tend to write about it when my pets pass on.  When my wife and I got married in 2008, she had a cat and two dogs and I had two cats– our five pets were actually against county ordinances for the first several years we were married, until one of my cats died and we were down to a legal two cats and two dogs.  My author description on most of my books describes me as living with “an assortment of pets.”  Since I started this blog, we’ve lost Hector, one of our dogs, and Kashmir, one of our cats, who I know I wrote about a couple of times.  I did not mark either of their deaths with a post, and I don’t know why.

We had to let Snarf go this morning.  My cat (she is twenty years old, has lived with my wife for half of her life, and is still manifestly my cat) is now our only pet.  Snarf was nearly fifteen years old, a ripe old age for any dog but particularly so for a German Shepherd, a larger breed that most of the time doesn’t make it past twelve or thirteen.  She’d been on a slow decline for at least a couple of years now; I’d had a conversation with my mother as recently as last weekend about how much longer we were going to let things go.  If you know German Shepherds, you know they tend to have issues with their hips, and over the last couple of years it had been getting harder and harder for her to move around.  In addition, she’d gone stone cold deaf.  But she was still her, and like I told my mom when she asked, how do you get up in the morning and decide okay, today’s the day I kill my dog?  Today, and not tomorrow?  How the hell do you decide that, until it’s already past the time when you should have decided?

I dropped my son off at day care yesterday morning and spent most of the rest of the day in front of my PS4.  Around noon I realized that Snarf wasn’t in the room with me.  If I was home, Snarf was always in the same room with me, to the point where lately I’d been trying not to move around all that often because she’d force herself up and follow me around, even if I was just going to the bathroom or getting something from another room.

And I’d been home for three hours, and I hadn’t seen her yet. I actually thought right then that I was about to find my dog dead on the floor in my bedroom.  But no; she was alive, just a few steps slower than she’d been even the night before.  I don’t know what changed, but overnight she’d gotten worse.  Much worse.  She stayed in the bedroom almost all day.

She didn’t eat dinner last night, and she didn’t eat her breakfast this morning, and that was after my wife woke me up crying because she couldn’t get the dog to get up and go outside.  She’d made it to our bedside, where she slept every night, and that was as far as she wanted to go.

That’s how you know, I guess.

Our vet has been taking care of Snarf since she was a puppy– she’s actually known the dog for longer than I have– and she was nice enough to come in on her day off to take care of us.  And for the third time, I had to explain to my son that one of his pets was going to die– only this time, it was a complete surprise.  Kenny knew that she was getting old, of course, but she wasn’t sick in a way that a nearly-seven-year-old was going to really notice.  As far as he can remember, she’s never not been an older dog, and it was even harder than usual to explain why what was about to happen had to happen.

I’ve had, depending on how you count, somewhere between four and seven dogs that I could have called my dog, and two that I was actually personally responsible for.  Snarf was probably the smartest dog I ever had, and she was absolutely the best-trained of all of them.  She was loyal and friendly and scary as hell when she wanted to be and she was happy and she had fourteen good years with us and some months that maybe weren’t so good.

And as I’m writing this, the doorbell rings, and it’s not greeted with a chorus of dog barks, and that’s the moment when I lose it and start crying again.  I’m not answering the door.  Whoever is out there should have called first.  There’s supposed to be a dog there, telling them to stay away, until the moment I let them in the house, when they became safe and a friend.

She was a good dog.  I’ll miss her a lot.  Bye, babygirl.