Losing John Lewis and C.T. Vivian in the same damn day was rough. I was not prepared to discover how much Lewis’ death, in particular, was going to fuck me up. Losing both of them in the same week where Grant Imahara died out of nowhere and Naya Rivera’s body was found after she drowned saving her child … which, like, I’m not really a Glee fan but that story is going to mess up anyone with children, right? That shit starts to border on unfair, or at least it would if it wasn’t already 2020 and literally everything in the world wasn’t fucked up as is. Oh, and the federal government is kidnapping people off the fucking streets in unmarked cars.
I’m trying to use the word literally less frequently but I feel like its presence in that previous paragraph is justified.
Point is, I’m not really all here today, and all I really have brain cycles for is rage and despair, and I’ve spent most of the day trying to ignore that and channel my nervous energy into fucking video games, which … could I at least channel it into, like, cleaning, or something to make me useful to my family in some way? No, apparently.
Go hug somebody. I don’t even care who; chances are they need it.
I– well, all of us, really– got a letter from my superintendent this morning outlining the district’s plan to reopen this fall, and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that their plan is basically “we reopen, and nothing changes, so try not to die.” Apparently he mentioned some vague sort of “we’ll try and create a virtual school, and you’ll have options for e-learning if you want them” thing at an event this morning, but there are no details, there is as of yet no staff for such a thing, and the letter makes no mention of it.
Everyone will be required to “have” a mask.
I was expecting a lot of different things, but “we’re going to do nothing” was not one of them, and I am frustrated and, frankly, frightened beyond my ability to describe it right now. Like, “take one of your emergency brain pills” frustrated.
So the best thing to do, obviously, is lash out at some bullshit that doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m mad about, and luckily I just decided I was done with this deeply stupid book here. Here’s my entire review: don’t read this fucking book, and don’t trust anyone who tells you this is a good book, and I am seriously looking askance at the two Actual Authors who recommended this to the skies and back, because you’re both out of your damn minds.
Need some background for that review? Okay. First, look at the title. The title of this book is Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere. That title is wordy as fuck and deeply obnoxious, and if you can’t literally get the front cover to your book done without being wordy as fuck and deeply obnoxious then your opinions on writing are probably not to be taken terribly seriously. Second, this author 1) has no relevant experience or expertise in psychology and 2) has never written or published a fucking novel.
Which … really, at that point we’re done. Your book is garbage. I don’t have to read your book to know it’s garbage. Unfortunately, I did, which was clearly my mistake, as I’ll never get that time back, and I should have been using it to look for a job.
Also, there’s no “brain science” in the book. None what-so-fucking-ever. There’s the occasional sentence where she says things like “brain science tells us …” but there are never any citations or, like, quotes from actual people who work in the field, or anything like that, and she also appears to think that “brain science” is a thing, which it’s not. There’s no one in the world where if you ask them their job they will tell you “I am a brain scientist.” The word is psychologist. I would also accept psychiatrist or neurologist or probably a couple of others. Hell, even an anthropologist would probably be useful for some of the claims that she makes, but there’s none of that either. It’s all fuckin’ hooey, and worse, it’s hooey that really only applies to literary fiction and doesn’t work well with genre at all. Don’t believe me? Let me introduce you to George R.R. Martin, who could probably tell you a few things about how his books violate every single one of the rules in this book– if you can coax him off of his gigantic money bed in his gold house to come talk to you in the first place.
The whole book is bullshit; know-nothing, arrogant, prescriptive bullshit, and it’s an easy candidate for the worst book I’ve had to read so far this year.
My neighborhood– please don’t use this information to stalk me– is full of cul-de-sacs. I live on one of them, not pictured in the above photo. Over the last several days since acquiring the bike I have managed to either learn or relearn riding a bike to the point where I could go down my driveway, circle my cul-de-sac a couple of times, and then return to my driveway without incident. We’re talking literal one-minute bike rides. But I could do it!
I take my improvements where I can get them.
Tonight, I resolved that I was going to Take a Bike Ride. I was going to put my helmet on my giant head and ride far enough away from my house that I couldn’t see it any longer.
It did not go well.
Now, it didn’t go as comically poorly as the diagram above seems to indicate– at no point was I off the road, and I certainly did not drive my Goddamned bike right through anyone’s houses, as the orange line seems to imply. There was no corner-cutting through lawns or anything like that. I don’t know why the line isn’t smoother, but it does more or less represent the route.
I learned something about my neighborhood tonight that, after nine years of living in this house, I was not aware of: I live at the top of a fucking hill. I swear to you, I didn’t know this. So I turned out of my cul-de-sac heading roughly eastward expecting more or less a level, pleasant ride, and a few moments later I was hurtling toward death at, the app tells me, a max speed of fifteen miles an hour.
I am not sure what counts as fast to someone who is used to riding a bike. I can tell you that when you have not been on one in thirty years, fifteen miles an hour is motherfucking terrifying. I was going fast enough that I didn’t need to pedal, and at one point on the way down the thought I’m going to die and I’m not even getting any exercise out of it floated through my head. I still don’t quite get how the gearing system works, so chances are I could have adjusted the gears and done … something, but hell if I knew what.
That said, I did not die, and I managed to slow myself down without flipping over the front of the bike and decided to turn off and turn around, figuring I’d been far enough that it counted as progress. And I did! I also learned that I don’t really know how to turn around and look behind me, so right now left turns are out of the question until I get a mirror or something like that. Luckily the one turn I had to make coming out of the turnaround was nice and clear in both directions so I didn’t have to negotiate slowing down too much or stopping before turning back toward home.
Which was uphill.
I realized very quickly that I was in trouble.
See that spot in the upper left of the image where it looks like a toddler scribbled on the screen for a moment? That’s where I had to stop and rest. That’s how far I made it, pedaling uphill on what was a mild enough grade that in nine years I had never noticed it before. I stopped the bike for a second, intending to catch my breath and then continue. Turns out the house on that corner has three kids! None over ten! They’re cute. One of them told me she liked my bike. I thanked her. Then I tried to get the bike moving again.
And I tried again.
And then I decided that, pride be damned, I was going to have to push the motherfucker up the damn hill, because unless I wanted to turn around and go back downhill again to build up some speed I wasn’t going to get my 45-pound bike and my 318-pound ass (yep) moving up that damn hill.
And as soon as I tried to get off the bike, my legs went to jelly and I fell. I’ve never experienced that before; my legs basically just decided to stop being legs. Lucky for me, I was getting off lawn-side (no sidewalks in my neighborhood) so I fell onto grass and wasn’t hurt, but it didn’t go well. And, of course, the kids were still there. They asked if I was ok. I said I was.
And then I tried to stand up, and my legs weren’t having that either, so I got to sit there for a minute or two until actually standing the fuck up was possible, and then I had to push the bike the rest of the way home. I managed to make it without further embarrassment (other than the other guy on a bike who rode past me and gave me a hell of a confused look) and staggered into my house and collapsed into a chair, so out of breath I couldn’t talk.
(Entertaining sidenote: the app I’m using asks you to rate how difficult you think any given ride was, and one of the guidelines it gives you for a “max effort” ride is that you can no longer remember your name. That’s not a joke. I can’t find it right now, but I will screenshot it next time. I wasn’t quite that bad, but I filed it as max effort anyway.)
It took about fifteen minutes for my heart rate to subside from what my watch tells me was a peak of 149 BPM to something approaching normal, and for at least part of that I was actually trying to move my legs and wasn’t able to. I’m damned glad I made it back; my wife still has a broken foot, remember, so if it had been much worse than it was I’m not sure what the merry fuck I would have been able to do about it.
And once I was recovered enough to describe to my wife what had happened, she says to me, I swear to God, “Oh, I’d have told you about the hill if you’d asked.”
Anybody want a bike?
This is the data I was given about the ride that almost killed me. I swear to you that despite how ridiculously nothing this looks, nothing in this post is hyperbole. This doesn’t include the walk back pushing that heavy-ass thing, though, because I ended the “recording” session once I decided I wasn’t getting back on the bike.
Y’all are lucky I have no shame at all or this place would be a lot less entertaining.
8:11 PM, Thursday June 11: 2,021,900 confirmed infections and 113,774 Americans dead.
Six years ago I watched a certain movie and had some opinions about it. I, as I am occasionally known to do, put those opinions on the interwebs for other humans to see. That post is still the number one Google result if you search for the words “Snowpiercer stupid,” and is, somehow, still my highest-traffic regular post on a day-to-day basis:
You may be aware that they have decided to make a television program out of this very silly movie, and that that television program is currently airing, which is responsible for the current surge in pageviews– the post never died; there has been one day since 2015 where it didn’t get any views at all– but I’m not used to it being back up to having three-figure days again.
So here’s the question: do I watch the show? I’m not actually interested in watching the show, but I’m willing to do it for science, if the Internet wants me to.
So, uh, let me know?
3:54 PM, Wednesday May 20: 1,539,633 confirmed cases and 92,712 American deaths.
We were listening to the radio today while taking my wife to the doctor to have her foot inspected (verdict: no weight-bearing for two weeks and a different boot and they’ll reassess at the follow-up; also, she can’t drive, so it’s good that I’m not going into school because I have to drive her back and forth to work now) and the radio DJ was talking about how it was Nurse’s Appreciation Day and how much he appreciated those nurses for all the nursing they’re doing. And then he pivoted to the fact that it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week, because let’s get all these assholes out of the way at once, and cracked a joke about how we’re all “chilling” because school isn’t in session.
And right about then was when I blacked out, and I’m told that I had to be restrained from calling the station right then and there and possibly having a negative impact on someone’s day. And right now at this exact moment I’m at home and not driving to somebody’s place of business, because it ain’t exactly a national secret where U93 broadcasts from. So, yeah, “Big Perm,” it’s good for both of us that my wife is a more civilized person than I am.
Any notion of “teacher appreciation” is always going to be a big joke in America anyway; there is no more anti-intellectual country anywhere on Earth short of a handful of dictatorships and theocracies, and certainly nowhere among the countries that are supposedly democracies. This country hates education and always has, and frankly at this point I’d rather be ignored than “appreciated.” Y’all can keep your damn coffee mugs. I have enough of them already.
I’m gonna go figure out how to teach math to some kids who aren’t in the same building as me and are worried about their families and friends keeping their jobs and lives intact; y’all let me know when the appreciatin’s over.
(This post was going to be about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before this Perm human got my jimmies all rustled; turns out that there’s good reasons why my kids might not be in the very best place to learn right now, believe it or not.)
5:33 PM, Wednesday May 6: 1,219,952 confirmed cases; 72,617 deaths.