A short Skyrim story

I have spent a good portion of the last two days playing Skyrim. Why? I’m on Spring Break, and I do what I want. Something something self care something, damn it.

Anyway, my character is an archer and a thief, because no matter what build you try to have in Skyrim you always end up as an archer and a thief, and apparently at some point I stole something from a certain minor character’s home. I was just attacked in broad daylight in a whole other town by a handful of thugs, all of whom were quickly dispatched via arrows to the face. Because that is how I roll.

Upon searching said thugs, I found a letter from this dude telling them that he wanted them to beat me bloody, but if I died in the process, meh.

Now, actually killing NPCs in this game is possible but can frequently be more trouble than it’s worth, as murder is one of those crimes where the guards just sort of magically know you’ve done it even if you were the only other person in the room where it happened. But sometimes you need to make exceptions, right? And this dude had sent three thugs after me, so something something self defense something, right?

Well, when I stopped by his house again, he wasn’t home, and I wasn’t about to traipse all over the damn town looking for him. Now, if you’re not familiar with this game, be aware that you can pick up damn near any object you can see. Baskets. Food. Plates. Books. Silverware. That pair of boots on the floor in the corner. If you can see it, more likely than not you can pick it up and make off with it. It actually takes a while when you start playing to curb that automatic video game urge to loot everything, because you really don’t need all those wooden plates and flagons. They just take up room in your inventory and make it harder to carry stuff you want.

But you don’t have to carry stuff far to do something fun with it.

So I took every single object in this man’s house, went outside, and dumped it all on the ground in front of his place. I thought about just selling it but there was a lot of stuff and it would have required at least two trips to my fence– you can only sell stolen goods in certain places– and frankly I thought just throwing all his dishes and baskets and eating utensils and all of his food out in the snow outside his place was funny enough.

He has a farm outside of town, too. He comes after me again, I’ll clear that out next.

Your move, Belyn Hlaalu.

On translations

Let’s put a quick trigger warning for sexual assault here; it’s an unavoidable plot point of a book I’ll be discussing several paragraphs into the piece, and it won’t be dwelled upon.


I’m on my third book in a row that I’m reading in translation, and my fourth in a row that wasn’t written in especially modern English, since the Ernest Shackleton book was published in 1909. I haven’t loved any of the three that I’ve finished, but I’m not far enough into the fourth one to really have an opinion of it yet– maybe 40 pages deep on a 600-page novel. And the bit that I’m having trouble wrapping my head around is that I’m not sure how to discern between a book that I didn’t enjoy and a translation I didn’t enjoy. I can think of one particular series where the first book was translated by one person was great and the second was translated by someone else and it was so bad that I couldn’t get even a third of the way through it; that I can blame on the translator. But when it’s the only book I’ve read by a given person, or sometimes the only book by that person available in English, it’s a lot harder to tease that apart and it may actually not be a difference worth bothering to tease apart in the first place.

It’s the most recent book that’s really got me thinking about this, honestly– and if you’re wondering why I’m not specifically naming the book, it’s because this is pretty clearly running into my Don’t Shit on Books Without a Good Reason rule, and my Goodreads is right there anyway– because this book was very clearly deliberately written in a certain way, and I’m not sure it survived translation into English very well.

(Let me reiterate the trigger warning)

The book is about a woman whose father sexually abused her for several years when she was a child, and she is, as a result, estranged from her family, most of whom don’t believe her. She is very much not over her trauma, and in fact dwells upon it more or less constantly. The book is told entirely from her perspective, and, well, she’s not in an especially mentally healthy place; the entire book is about disputes over inheritance, and her father passes away partway through the narrative. Now, I think what’s going on here is that the author is trying to mimic in text what is going on in this person’s head, and as a result the entire text is very very repetitive, constantly circling back to the same events and the same conversations, and also with insanely long sentences that can sometimes take up a page or more. The text is never pauses for breath, never slows down, and constantly loops back to retread the same material, sometimes phrased differently and sometimes repeating the exact same language several times in a (paragraph-length) sentence.

I made fun of this on Twitter while I was reading it, and the fact is this isn’t that far off from what’s going on:

So, like, I can see what the author is trying to do here, and I even appreciate the technique, but the unfortunate result is that, in English and to me at least, the book is really damn difficult to read. Imagine a book where every sentence was like that Tweet, and each sentence in the book was similar to the Tweet in a way that was very like the Tweet, and not like things that are not like that Tweet, that’s what you’re trying to imagine right now, you’re imagining a book where every sentence is like that Tweet, because the sentences in this book are all like that Tweet and you’re imagining them.

I am not kidding. Like, I’ll post examples if I have to.

And the thing is, I didn’t dislike the book, I just didn’t enjoy it at all, if that’s something that makes any sense. I mean, I finished it instead of putting it down, and I don’t think I regret buying and reading it, and it made a big splash in its country of origin when it came out so it even remains a good choice that way. But I wish I could read it in its original language to see behind the scenes, so to speak, on how the translator did her job, because this book must have been a nightmare to translate.

I need to be able to read all of Earth’s languages, is what I’m getting at here. Is that the Moderna shot, maybe?

I hate it here

My son has a peanut allergy, along with a handful of other other allergies, and while we’ve never had any sort of medical emergency related to his allergies we have always kept EpiPens on hand, both in the house and at school. He’s going back to school next week so we needed another one.

They wanted four hundred and fifty dollars for a pair of EpiPens, and the ones they had on hand had expiration dates in December.

Four hundred and fifty fucking dollars for something that, if you don’t have it on hand when you need it, you’re very likely to die. $100 more than the last time we ordered them, and the last time we ordered them they were also obscenely expensive.

Go ahead. Ask if we have insurance.

After

Just as a reminder, this is what the roof looked like yesterday, this time heavily cropped:

This is what the internet said our new roof was going to look like:

And this is what our new roof looks like, although it’s gotten a bit overcast outside, unfortunately:

To my eyes, the roof-in-actuality looks a touch lighter than the sample does, but not in a way that’s displeasing; I’m pretty happy with it, and it’s done already, and I was figuring it would be at least a two-day job. We got some light rain for a little while, which didn’t appear to bother anyone, and while I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about the job at least looks well done from ground-level. We’ve talked about springing for a third-party inspection to see what someone who knows roofing says about it, but the guys who did the work were conscientious as hell about nearly every aspect of the job that I might be able to fairly evaluate (my sole complaint: a couple of plants in the back yard have either been stepped on or were covered with tarp for a while, but they look like they’ll recover) right down to having several guys going over the lawn with what turned out to basically be giant magnets on wheels to get every last nail that might have fallen off the roof. I’ve been around the house twice and I can’t find a single scrap of roofing material anywhere. I figure if they’re that fanatical about cleaning up after themselves there’s at least a decent chance that the work itself is good. I can hope, at least.

This is what it looked like when they were unloading the actual shingles, by the way:

I don’t know what the hell I thought they were bringing the shingles over on, but I wasn’t expecting a giant-ass crane to lift the pallets up to the roof to be unloaded up there. It was pretty cool to watch, honestly.

Also, this:

Similarly, the new water softener is in “this appears to work and not be leaking, so I’m good” territory, although I can more carefully inspect new piping that I can actually see than roof work that I can’t, and it all looks very clean and nicely done, so I’m happy. We will see what life with soft water is like now.

If anybody’s local and wants to know who we used (well, okay, you can see the name of the water folks right there in the picture) let me know.

Before

Pictured: the mess of pipes that had not one but two different water softener people swearing at the level of redundancy and poor decision-making required to have installed it in the first place. To the right is the ancient previous water softener, which has not been active since we moved into the house. My understanding is that several of these pipes are going to go away tomorrow to be prefaced with something more streamlined and sensible.

Also tomorrow: the roof gets ripped off of the house. Here’s what the roof currently looks like:

I mean, okay, that’s more a picture of a storm on its way than the roof, but who takes pictures of their roof? Nobody. I figure they’ll at least get to the part where that’s torn off tomorrow; I don’t have a firm idea of how long this entire process is supposed to take, but I assume sometime in the next few days I’m going to have a new roof and new eaves and all that fun stuff.

The roofers are supposed to be here by 7:30 in the morning and the softener guys are here before 10, so I gotta get up early to get all water-using tasks out of the way before they arrive, and also to keep the roofers from taking up the entire driveway, since I’d like the water guys to not have to cart pipes from halfway across the world before taking them into the basement. It’s going to be a long, expensive day tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll have some neat pictures to share with you by tomorrow night.