I got home from work at about 2:30 after a nearly three-hour “lunch meeting” on the last day before Winter Break officially kicked in, and I’ve spent most of the time since then in my recliner with a book in my hand. (Which has finally gotten interesting; I was on the verge of abandoning a Tana French novel, the very concept of which hurts my heart.)
I am trying to decide if I want this to be a Winter Break of Great Accomplishment or a Winter Break of I Sat Around And Read Books And Played Video Games. Right now it could go either way. And both would be a perfectly valid way to spend the next two weeks.
Also, I keep looking at that picture of myself I posted yesterday and reflecting on how much I’ve fallen apart physically since 2004. I need to get out of this mood or I’ll end up making New Year’s Resolutions, and those are always to be avoided by sensible people.
I’m doing the thing where I’m trying to make something I said on Twitter a bit less ephemeral by putting it here: I want a change in the rules. If white people are going to keep calling the police on black people for fucking existing in public, well, you go on ahead with your white self and keep doing that. But once the cops have investigated, when it turns out the black person was walking his dog, or taking his damn kids to the park, or buying groceries, or having a barbecue, or whatever goddamned normal-ass thing that black people are allowed to do unless white people are nearby, once the cops have investigated and determined that, yeah, that check for $1000 from this dude’s employer is really his check, and maybe y’all shoulda figured out that your average check cashing fraudster isn’t likely to volunteer two forms of ID and his fingerprint and just cashed the damn thing?
Once the cops figure that out, that accused black person gets five minutes in which he or she cannot be arrested or prosecuted for anything they do, up to and including stealing and detonating a nuclear weapon, if there happens to be one close enough. And the white people don’t get to run away. They gotta stay there while the five-minute rampage happens and if that five-minute rampage involves a white ass getting beat then maybe you shoulda thought of that before you called the cops, you dumb racist cracker motherfucker.
A story of what may actually be the last time I tried to cash a check: I am a high school student, and I have helped out an old lady down the street from me by mowing her lawn for her. A very old lady, who has rewarded me by writing me a check for, supposedly, $25. The only problem is that $25 check is so illegible that I’m the person she handed it to and I can’t decipher my own name, nor can I really honestly figure out how the scrawl in the little box says $25.00, and there is no way any human could possibly look at the part that counts, where you write out the amount in prose, and see “twenty-five dollars and 00/100.” She’s very old and palsied and this check looks like a toddler scribbled on it. There are no recognizable words. I need y’all to realize that I’m not exaggerating here.
I briefly think about not taking the check anywhere at all and just not worrying about it, and then take it to her bank, because there’s no way in hell my bank is touching the thing. And the teller not only agrees to cash it, but she asks me what the amount is supposed to be, and then prepares to withdraw that amount, based on nothing more than my say-so.
Now, okay, this was 24 years ago at minimum, and shit’s supposed to be more secure now. But there wasn’t even the vaguest suggestion of suspicion on her part. Because: white boy.
And then it turned out the check was NSF, and I told her just to throw it away, because … nah. The whole thing was skeevy and even in high school $25 wasn’t enough money that I was gonna go to too much trouble to get it. It’s possible my dad ended up covering it; I don’t remember, but I didn’t end up ever cashing the check.
I have been doing make-up standardized tests all week, and by all week I mean basically every minute of my day other than lunch or advisory. On the one hand, this has been kind of wonderful, because it pins me in my room and people can’t pull me out of my office to make me do stuff, and it exempts me from things like hallway duty, which can be obnoxious. On the other hand, I have literally spent 24 solid hours out of the last three days in a damn near silent room with somewhere between eight and thirteen sixth graders all taking a test as I “monitor” them, and I am so bored I might die.
I mean, given my job’s definition of “exciting,” don’t take me whining about this too seriously, because there is a big difference between boring and stressful and given the choice I will leap joyfully into boring’s arms every time. But …. man. I gotta do this again tomorrow? Really? I’m playing music or summat during the test, because I can’t take the quiet any longer. It’s fuckin’ unnatural.
Today was pretty much a Day of Dreadful Meetings from start to finish, mostly of either the I Can’t Talk About It or I Don’t Wanna Talk About It variety, and the bits that weren’t Dreadful Meetings were mostly Unwise Acts Leading to Expulsions. I am pretty sure that my building put more kids up for expulsion today alone than most schools do in a semester, if not a year.
So it was kinda a rough day, and yesterday was a rough day, and Monday and Tuesday weren’t exactly great, and fuck it tomorrow’s payday and then I’ll have survived my first five-day week in a while so bring it on Friday, I ain’t skurred.
Hopefully at some point in the next couple of days I’ll find something worth writing about. Because it ain’t been happening much this week.
If we were having coffee, you’d either be in my house or witness to just about the first time I’ve left my house since getting home from my dentist appointment on Wednesday. This, if you’re me, constitutes a certain type of pure bliss, and it has been a lovely, wonderful long weekend, one where I have mostly not been wearing pants and yesterday I did not bother to shower until just before bed.
Let’s talk geek shit, then, because at the moment it’s what I’ve got. Again, I haven’t left the house in a few days.
ITEM THE FIRST! I abandoned a book this morning, R.E. Stearns’ Barbary Station, when it became clear that despite starting off with an absolutely scandalous amount of potential the writing was never going to click for me. This book is about a duo of lesbian engineers who steal a colony ship and present it to a gang of space pirates, hoping that the gift will get them into the gang, because the galactic economy has gone to shit and “find a job with a pirate crew” is, under the circumstances, a sound plan. They then discover that the pirates living on the station are sort of trapped there, because the AI running the place has gone rogue and has decided Kill All Humans is the right way to deal with things.
I mean, come on. I can’t resist a single thing about that premise. This was bought the second I knew it existed.
One of them is a hacker, and hacking is presented as this drug-induced, hallucinatory metaphor-space, and the idea is fascinating. In fact, damn near all of the ideas in the book are fascinating. Everything about it is fascinating. What it isn’t is good, unfortunately. The writing is clumsy at best and the book is at least one solid editing pass and a new draft away from being a good read. I don’t normally like to slag on books I didn’t like here, especially if they didn’t piss me off in an entertaining way, but part of me kind of hopes that someone will read the premise and decide I suck at deciding if things are good and buy the book anyway. I need R. E. Stearns to sit down with a really good editor for her next book, and then to reissue this one. Major disappointment.
(I’m not alone in this assessment. The book currently has the worst overall star average of the nearly 600 books I’ve reviewed on Goodreads– only 3.19/5. It’s tied with a Chuck Wendig book that was the victim of a prolonged and stupid review bombing. That’s bad.)
Also, the font the book is written in is borderline unreadable. I thought I’d get used to it but it was still pushing me out of getting lost in the book before I bailed. With a better-written story, it might not have mattered, but with a poorly-written one, it was just One More Thing.
That was unpleasant, so let’s talk about ITEM THE SECOND! which is Red Dead Redemption 2. I actually took that picture by pointing my camera at my TV, because I got to the top of that mountain and looked off over the edge and thought Jesus, when I started playing video games, I was playing Asteroids, and now this. Because you can go anywhere you can see in that picture.
I will have a lot more to say about this game later, believe me, but for right now I just want to bask in how outstandingly beautiful the game is, and how it got me to spend a couple of hours this afternoon not bothering to advance the story at all but just exploring and hunting, which is kind of a ridiculous way to spend your Sunday before going back to work. There are things I don’t like– the control scheme it starts you with is terrible, and once you fix the terrible control scheme you’re still left with something that will lead to you occasionally firing a gun in a crowded tavern by accident or punching your horse. Both of those activities are kinda frowned upon.
I’ve done more geekery this weekend, but the one other thing I wanna talk about is going to get its own post, I think. So … wanna go hunt moose with me? Because I kinda want to bag a moose today.