Unread Shelf: April 30, 2020

I am going to get this cleared in May, dammit.

In which I turn a good decision into a bad one

I was recently able to pay off a frankly horrifying amount of credit card debt. I have finally, at 43, rectified the errors of my twenties, more or less. In the process of doing that, I deliberately slightly overpaid a couple of the cards, since I wasn’t exactly sure when the big check would go through and so I went ahead and made my monthly payment and then the big lump sum.

Then COVID-19 hit, and I don’t know if you’ve tried to get in touch with a credit card company by phone lately, but apparently one of the side effects of this disease is you call your credit card company, because I waited an hour, on two separate occasions, to try to talk to a human before giving up and hanging up. Turns out that the only way you can get them to send you a check when you overpay an account is by talking to them in person– there is no way to request it online. The other option is to wait four or five months without touching the card, at which point they send you your money to zero out the balance.

Well, I eventually gave up on getting ahold of anyone, and decided that if there was ever an excuse to blow some money, “I literally have a negative balance on my credit card” was about as good as that excuse was going to get.

Under ordinary circumstances, that money gets turned into books posthaste. But that would have been a lot of new books, and my damn unread shelf is already a catastrophe. So what else can I get? Hmm.

Enter Wyrmwood. And these fucking beauties:

You might remember my C2E2 trip at the end of February, where I came home with a similar set of obsidian dice in a bloodwood dice vault. These are made of opalite, and if I hadn’t specifically thought to myself “let’s see if they have any dice made of obsidian” after deciding that spending $400 on Damascus steel dice was obscene even for the looser “buying anniversary souvenirs at a con, with money I have saved specifically for this purpose” standard I was using for my funds, I might have come home with these instead. The vault is made of cherry, which is surprisingly light, but the dice themselves are a bit heavier than the obsidian ones.

And, oh, God, is opalite pretty when you hold it up to light. Please focus on the dice, and not my ruined fingers:

You can sort of see the orange tinges among the blue in the top picture, but looking at light through them is just amazing, and these are stunning in daylight. Which, sadly, we don’t have any of right now, but trust me.

The truly ridiculous thing is that this set and the vault didn’t exhaust my extra funds, so I have several more (much less expensive, but still cool) metal sets coming this weekend. It’s a sickness, I know. I mean, at least I’m not on heroin, right?

(Have I pledged to their Kickstarter for a set of turquoise dice? Am I considering adding to that pledge for something else? Maybe.)

2:54 PM, Thursday (I think?) April 30: 1,054,261 confirmed cases and 61,717 Americans dead. My wife commented yesterday that she thinks I’m spending too much time monitoring the ARCGIS site I get this information from, but I think sublimating my anxiety over the whole thing into the data-nerd parts of my personality is … well, might be a healthy response? Reasonably? Relatively? Hell, I dunno.

(EDIT: Holy crap, does setting a featured image look terrible in this theme.)

Friday music video break

what the hell do you mean its wednesday SHUT UP

Truth is, I’m posting this video mostly because I’m listening to this song right now and the line fuckshit is finished today is really resonating with me for some reason. I mean, it’s not, fuckshit is just the way life is now, but I appreciate optimism when I encounter it.

I’ve spent most of the day with a book in front of me; I did all of my office hours and responded to my email and all that but apparently today’s lesson clicked with the 25% of my students who looked at it, since grades were pretty good on the assignment. For the first time this week, tomorrow’s video is stolen from elsewhere on the internet, though, because I have to DM tonight and I don’t really feel the need to record my own video when I just did one on this yesterday. Maybe for the handful of them who didn’t get it hearing it from a different source will click, I dunno.

Also speaking of reading:

This book is the second in a series and occupied most of my morning in between those emails and video conferences. Luckily for me, morning office hours were sparsely attended, so I sat there and read while waiting for students to log in. You may recall that its predecessor Foundryside was, uh, a book I rather enjoyed, and the sequel is absolutely up to the standard of the first if not better– this is in the top 2 or 3 for the year so far. It’s fast-paced and complicated and heartbreaking and a masterclass in how to write a fascinating magic system. You should go pick both of them up.

Plus, God, that cover.

6:15 PM, Wednesday April 29: 1,036,652 confirmed cases, and 60,475 American deaths.

A thing that just happened

A trifle too long for Twitter, so a second short blog post on the day it is!

The boy is working on some language arts homework, and he’s occasionally coming to ask me some questions (I’m in the office) when he hits something he can’t immediately figure out. The theme for this particular assignment appears to be words with double letters and opposites, so we’re trying to find words that have both. I try to give him indirect answers so that he has to figure the words out himself, and his vocabulary is generally pretty good. For example, the first time the initial word was alike and he needed to come up with different.

So he comes back into the office a bit later and this time the task is to find a word that is something to wear. So, dress. I tell him it’s something that is usually worn by girls.


Suddenly I have a headache.

“People don’t wear boobs, dude. That’s a body part. They’re attached.”

He thinks about it for a second, and then, while rubbing his chest, asks what the things that “cover the boobs” are.

“That’s a bra. Three letters. No repeats.”

He thinks for another minute or two and comes up with the word dress, and I send him away.

The end.

In which I announce a goal …

… one which I’m never, EVER gonna pull off.

My unread shelf has been out of control for months (pictured: not my unread shelf) and I have noticed I’ve begun stress-buying things lately; witness my investment in AirPods yesterday and the obscene amount of money I’ve poured into dice in the last week. I have, even considering how fast I read and the fact that I’m not currently leaving the house, far more unread books than I really should have right now.

In the interests of keeping my bank account solvent and my shelves from collapsing, to say nothing of the health of the people working in Amazon’s warehouses, I have decided I’m going to do my damnedest to not order any more books until I have cleared my unread shelf. I do have one currently in transit that I pre-ordered months ago (Daniel M. Ford’s Cheap Heat, out this week and ordered by me in December) but I’m not ordering anything new until my resolve breaks or I clear the shelf. I think it will be the second time in my adult life I have managed to do such a thing.

How long until I break this resolution, do you think?

12:00 PM, Tuesday, April 28: 990,135 confirmed cases and 56,475 Americans dead.