#Readaroundtheworld: March update

You want me to nerd out about my little reading project, right? Sure you do. We’re roughly 1/4 of the way through 2021 already somehow, and I’ve read books from 15 US states and 17 countries so far, putting me on track to successfully read books from all 50 states and 68 different countries over the course of the year. Now, realistically, this first three months has been pursuing low-hanging fruit, and I’ve already read multiple books from several different states as well as the UK, and I have at least one other book by a Nigerian on my shelf waiting for me, so as the year goes on it’s going to get more and more difficult to find books that “count” for the series. I’m sure I’ll be able to get the US done one way or another, but the fact is books from Canada and Russia and Australia and the UK weren’t exactly hard to find, and I’m at the point already where I’m picking a country and Googling “Authors from XXX” to find books. There’s several easy ones left (and I have several books on my unread shelf that will fill in some spaces) but these first few months were definitely going to be the fastest ones.

I have been keeping track of the square mileage this has covered, because of course I am, and thus far, excluding the water, 21,418,356 square miles are filled in, which is 37.24% of the world’s surface. This will also be increasing much more slowly, as I’ve got Australia, Canada, Brazil and Russia done already. I’ll be filling in Antarctica and China next month, which are the biggest two chunks left, and after that it’s all smaller countries. Russia was 11.5% of the world’s surface all by itself, so I’m not going to be getting any more big jumps like that.

(How do I plan to fill in Antarctica’s 5.483 million square miles when no one lives there? I’ve decided Ernest Shackleton counts. My game, my rules.)

This has been a fun project so far, although for the most part my international “discovery” authors haven’t really set my world on fire yet, and a lot of the books I’ve really enjoyed this year from authors outside the US have been people I’m already familiar with. There’s also been a touch of strategic rereading going on; I filled in Italy by picking up The Name of the Rose for the first time in forever, and I’ll probably reread A Confederacy of Dunces at some point this year to take care of Louisiana. I might go back to Dumas to get France filled in. But for the most part it’s going to be authors I’m not familiar with, since that’s sort of the point of the entire exercise.

Remember, if you look at the top of the sidebar on the right there, you can follow along with me as I’m doing this if you’re so inclined. I should be done with Requiem Moon in a couple of days, and my next book after that will be another Rachel Caine, so I figured this was a good time to do an update.

In which that’s enough, thanks

It’s not necessary to point out to me that there are parts of the country that have it far, far worse than northern Indiana does right now, and I’ve already done the “go to a hotel for a night because it’s freezing outside and the power is out” thing this year, so believe me, I get it. And the snow is drifty and powdery, and that’s the deepest part of the driveway, and a foot away there might have been 6″ of snow and a foot away from that it might have been back up to 15″. I figure the average depth of the driveway was around a foot of snow or so, maybe a bit more. The last time I had to clear the driveway there was only six or seven inches of the stuff but it was incredibly dense and wet, and that was a far more exhausting job than this was.

It sucked anyway.

We had a snow day today, such as it is; I found out halfway through 3rd hour that apparently on “snow days” I’m not expected to actually do Meets with my students. I shrugged and did the rest of them anyway. Tomorrow is Wednesday, which is supposed to be asynchronous (ie, no Meets) so that we can attend meetings and go to trainings; there have been no trainings remotely relevant to Math teachers for about two months and I cancelled the 8th grade team meeting because we’ve really only had two days of school since the last one. Combine that with the fact that I got caught up on my grading yesterday and my day is rather startlingly open, which I would normally regard as a good thing but I am definitely casting a wary glance at anyway at the moment.

This happened today, too, right outside my office window and conveniently in between classes:

I got another video of him that was closer, but this also lets you see some of the crows that were flying around (and making enough noise that they were the reason I looked around the window in the first place;) there were at least a dozen of them that I could see, and the hawk gave not one thin damn what they were doing. I wasn’t able to get a good look at what he was eating; it occurs to me that there are probably remains under the tree but I’m not going out there to look right now. I *think* this is the second time I’ve spotted this dude in my yard and I still haven’t been able to get a clear look at him– the first time he was chilling in a bush while I was taking the garbage out but he flew away before I could get a good picture. If he comes back a third time, I’m naming him.

(It occurs to me that I don’t really know where all the toads go during wintertime, so he might be eating a Deathwish. Best bet given that it was broad daylight is probably a ground squirrel or a chipmunk, but who the hell knows.)

Stay warm, y’all.

A very brief Congressional explainer

I’ve seen a fair number of people who are confused about what the hell the House is doing right now. To be clear, I am very very far from being an expert, and it’s possible that I’m going to get some details incorrect in this, but I think I’ve got the basic gist, and if anybody sees any outright errors, please put them in comments and I’ll amend the post.

My current understanding is that Pelosi has brought the House back into session today and has already asked for unanimous consent to bring a bill to the floor calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That unanimous consent has been denied, and therefore there will be a vote by the House on the bill tomorrow. Pence will be given 24 hours to do the right thing and then impeachment proceedings will begin.

I’ve seen a lot of people asking why they have to wait so long, and why they can’t vote on the bill today. That is, in fact, exactly what they asked for unanimous consent on. You cannot introduce a bill and vote on it on the same day; that’s been a rule for several years now, and it’s a rule that makes good sense– remember, a lot of the bills passed can be hundreds of pages long and complicated, so it makes sense to give people enough time to read the final version of the bill before they vote on it. Now, of course, you don’t need a full day to read a two-page resolution, but the rule still stands. The House can break their own rules with unanimous consent— in other words, if no House member disagrees with breaking the rule, a rule can be broken. But since they didn’t get that unanimous consent– the Republicans blocked it– they have to go to a full vote, and therefore have to wait until tomorrow, when the resolution will most assuredly pass.

Now, in theory, and at least as far as I know, they could also formally introduce the impeachment article or articles (more than one Congressperson has announced that they’re working on them, and I’m not sure who wrote the final text) today, and then again, in theory and as far as I know, they could vote on them or at least get the process started on Tuesday. They’re waiting an extra day to give Pence his 24 hours basically as a strategic measure, which … well, you can decide on your own whether that’s a good idea or not, given that Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the Senate back into session before the 19th. The resolution on Pence is something the House can do on its own. Impeachment is not. The only way to get that done any faster is if, oh, say, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski were to agree to caucus with the Democrats for a while, giving them the majority immediately and making Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. Otherwise, the Dem majority doesn’t actually kick in until Kamala Harris is Vice-President.

(EDIT: It does look like the impeachment articles have been formally introduced.)

(Don’t ask me what happens if Pence does invoke the 25th. I don’t even know if there are rules for that, or whether Pence is for-real President or acting President or what if the Beast is removed via that method. I have no idea who casts tie breaking votes in the Senate under those circumstances, but it definitely wouldn’t be Harris before the 20th, so it probably doesn’t actually matter.)

(I’m also not sure exactly how the 14th Amendment applies to all of this– I know the Senate and the House can expel their own members, and they’ve used this power in the past, but I have no idea how the law works regarding declaring that someone cannot run for office again. I’ll look into it.)

Anyway, hopefully this is helpful, and again– I’m not an expert, so if you see something I’m wrong about, let me know.

On optimism

I am fairly certain that I have described each of the last four years as the worst year of my life. Looking back on it now, 2020 does certainly seem to have won the battle royal– losing my mom is going to do a pretty good job of catapulting the year over the rest of them, even before the global pandemic enters the chat– but if I want to be a bit more specific, April 2019 to April 2020 is probably right about where the break points are. Maybe July 2020, if I want to include losing my cat, who I’d had for 22 years.

All I really want out of 2021 is for it to be better than the last four years. I don’t need it to be great. I don’t even need good. I just need better. My 40s in general have been an utter horror show– recall that I turned 40 in 2016– and I’m more than ready to be done with that.

There have been some vague signs that maybe things are starting to turn. I am, despite the pandemic, happier as a teacher this year than I have been in a very long time. Financially, I’m in the best shape of my life, both personally and jointly with my wife. The vaccine isn’t in ready supply yet, and I haven’t gotten my shots yet, but it exists. My family isn’t experiencing any acute health crises right now; my father-in-law isn’t in great shape, but he’s holding up, and we’re not hugely concerned about anyone else at the moment. And I’ll be an uncle in a few months.

Now all I need is for a couple of elections in a state I’ve never set foot in to go my way today, and to make it through the next fifteen days without a nuclear war starting or some other sort of nightmare scenario being unleashed on the world. I (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) have gotten very, very gun-shy about anything that feels like good news over the last four years, and I don’t trust anything resembling optimism any longer. I feel like if it seems like things are turning around a little bit that’s just so that when they all go to hell again it will hurt worse.

Hell, I just want to make it through tomorrow without riots. I would like it if the worst people in America manage to make it through the day without killing anyone.

…at this point, I took about a 20-minute break from writing this, because the despair started kicking in again. There are at least a handful of reasons for actual optimism about this upcoming year. There are reasons to set goals for this year, and not just assume that there’s no chance I will achieve any of them.

I haven’t released a new book in forever. Hell, I haven’t written more than a handful of pages of fiction since Click became available to my Patreon subscribers– and that was mostly a rewrite and re-edit, not an actual new book. I’d like to say I want to get another book out this year, but it’s entirely possible that I’m just done with that. I’d like to be more creative in general this year, to make things, and I’m already looking at the whole idea of creativity and just exhausted by it.

I need a reason to be hopeful that doesn’t wash away a day or an hour or a few minutes after I happen upon it.

I need this year to be better.

In case you thought this year would be different

Yesterday
Today

So far 2021 has featured an ice storm and a power outage that is about to reach its 24th hour. We have booked a hotel for tonight and I’m writing this on my phone at my dad’s house.

Happy Same Fucking Year!