OH GOOD A NEW WORDPRESS INTERFACE

EQjAirYI look forward to discovering how this is STILL worse than the one I started with later on today.

At any rate: having had another seriously low-productivity day yesterday, I have resolved to play no Fallout and write no blogs until Sunlight has at least 20000 words, and I really ought to shoot for at least 21-22K today.

So don’t tell anyone about this post.  It’s our secret.

Leave encouragement in comments.  Or, y’know, whatever.

In which this is really actually true

I’m, like, fifty followers away from the big 3K.  REPOST ABUNDANTLY.

I received a thank you note today– from a parent of one of my students, mind you– that started with the sentence “Thank you for being a cynical, sarcastic, grumpy asshole.”  And, like, it meant thank you, and not weird reverse-psychology I’m using thank you to mean I hate you nonsense.

What can I say; some of them get me.

Today was Field Day; it went just fine, as these things tend to do, except it had rather less Field than I might have liked due to torrential rains at the beginning of the day (when all of the outdoor stuff would have been set up) and at the end of the day as well.  In between, though, it was beautiful outside.  Unlike last year, as you’ve seen in the post below this one, I managed to remember to get a picture of the last bus as it pulled away from the building. So, yay: achievement unlocked.  I also found out today that there’s at least one other school wanting a phone interview.  And another actual interview Friday.  So double-yay.

Goals for this summer:

  • Get BA 8, currently untitled, written.  I’m about 3600 words in.
  • Get Skylights online.  This will require talking to my artist tomorrow.  And, uh, the revisions.  Damn revisions!
  • Finish the bathroom.  Soon.
  • Get my comic books categorized and, hopefully, sold.
  • Go through the four enormous crates of vintage 1980s toys that my mother unleashed on me last weekend and figure out what to do with them.  Yes, that’s a big enough task that it counts as a summer goal.
  • Oh, and, uh, get a new job.

I still technically have one more day at work; the teacher record day is tomorrow, but literally everything is done and if I wanted to I could check out of the building five minutes after walking into it tomorrow.  I’m not going to, but I could.

For right now, though?  Bed.  Early.  I didn’t sleep well at all last night– not, like, end-of-year related, I just couldn’t sleep– but I intend to make up for it tonight.

(Random late addition: the lack of an apostrophe in the title of this YouTube video is annoying me enough that I may actually change the video.  Something is wrong with me.)

What I’m re/reading in 2014: The Crazy Man Chronicles

As you might be aware, I read 201 books in 2013.  That’s a lot of books, and while I think I did respectably in keeping my average-pages-per-book number high, I’m kinda tired of reading short books right now.  I don’t plan on hitting half of the number of books read for the year in 2014 that I did in 2013.  What I do plan on doing is reading long shit.  And series.  Lots and lots of series fiction.  Here’s some stuff on the list for this year:

2014-01-12 10.21.41First plan:  read the entire Wheel of Time series.  The final volume finally came out in paperback, so this is actually possible now.  Note that I’ve only read about half of these; I did those all at a gulp and then realized just how much Jordan still planned to write and stopped, and then Jordan died, and Brandon Sanderson finally finished the series.  I’m going to start these pretty soon, actually.

2014-01-12 10.33.32Speaking of Brandon Sanderson, now that he’s done with Robert Jordan’s twenty-book megaseries, he’s got time to go back and work on his own.  The second volume of The Stormlight Archive comes out in… March, I think?  So I’ve got until then to reread the first book.

2014-01-12 10.34.23The third volume of Robert Durling’s magnificent translation of The Divine Comedy finally came out in paperback in December, which means that I can finally finish reading it.  This isn’t as intimidating as it looks; there’s a lot of endnotes and backmatter and such so these aren’t as big reads as they seem to be initially.  On the other hand…

2014-01-12 10.35.44Michael Burlingame’s Abraham Lincoln: A Life cost my mother something like a hundred bucks when she bought it for me for Christmas a few years ago, and I haven’t read it yet– mostly because I can’t figure out how to hold the big sumbitch to read it.  I will be fixing that this year if I have to invest in a lap desk to do it.

Speaking of books with bible-thin pages…

2014-01-12 10.23.34Yeah, I know, fuck Ayn Rand.  But I’ve got a bunch of her books in this neat Centennial Edition on a shelf together, and I got through everything but Atlas Shrugged before deciding I was done reading books by dumb crazy people, and it’s been sitting on the shelf mocking me ever since.  Over a thousand pages, maybe six-point font.  I’m coming for you, goddammit.

And after that, a palate cleanser:

2014-01-12 10.31.43Disney has decided now that they own the Star Wars license that none of the books that are set in the future of the movies matter any more.  That’s… rather upsetting to those of us who have been reading them forever.  This is the New Jedi Order series.  That’s not all of them— there are a couple of never-made-it-to-print ebooks and I own the very last volume in hardcover because I was too impatient to wait for paperback.  I can read a Star Wars book in a day, though, so this isn’t the time investment it looks like.

2014-01-12 10.19.46Kevin J. Anderson’s Saga of Seven Suns is the best science fiction maxi-series that you’ve never heard of; he keeps ratcheting up the tension and making you think that there’s no way the human race is going to survive the latest bit of terror he’s thrown at it and then he throws a monkey wrench into his entire series.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Great action and drama and the plot just keeps twisting and turning throughout the entire series.    Plus they make a pleasing orange block when shelved together.  I haven’t reread this series; I think I’ll do that this year.

Oh, and this is my current unread shelf, which has gotten entirely out of control and is probably only going to get worse since I’m planning on doing so many rereads this year:

2014-01-12 10.37.13That Mencken collection in the middle, in particular, scares the hell out of me– it doesn’t look like much, but again with the bible-thin pages on those two books.  It’ll take a while.

I almost put George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire on the reread list, but fuckit– A Dance with Dragons pissed me off so much that… well, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna not buy the next volume when it comes out, but I’ll scowl fiercely at it when I do.  Take that, George R. R. Martin!  Along with my money!

That reread can wait until the next book comes out, which will probably be sometime in the 2030s.

Whee!

Stuff what I wanna do in 2014

I don’t do resolutions. Resolutions are promises; promises get broken. That doesn’t say that I don’t have projects and goals; sometimes I get to them, sometimes I don’t. Last year I did a post like this at the previous incarnation of this blog over at Xanga; I’ve got that post archived somewhere, I think, but I remember the two big ones were to write more and to cook more often. Both of those goals were definitely achieved; I write just about every damn day here and I’m a much better cook than I was at the beginning of the year.

So what’s on deck for 2014?

Keep writing. This ought not to be a problem; getting back into regular blogging again was one of the best things about 2013; I’m just flat-out happier when I’m writing a lot. As always, I want to bend more toward fiction, but I always want to write more fiction. That’s not new.

Still a writing goal, but a bit more specific:

Self-publish Skylights officially. This book is already written although it could probably use one more editing pass. Technically it’s available on Lulu– I put it there so I could have them print one author’s copy and buy it for myself– but I want it on Amazon. Plans are in the works to commission a local artist friend to do the cover if I get the teacher creativity grant I applied for earlier this year. I may suck it up and do that anyway. Even if I don’t get the grant, I want this book available on Amazon by the end of the year.

Finish the bathroom renovation in a timely fashion. The boy’s home sick with me right now, which has slowed us down a bit, but I still think we can get the tub done by the end of break. The fear is that once that’s done the rest of the stuff will just sit in the damn living room for months because of the amount of work to be done and the lack of several contiguous days off of work. I’m going to DC over Spring Break with my kids, so it’s not like I can even back it up to that. MLK weekend is gonna be real busy around here.

Read big books. Spending last year trying to read 200 books led to me focusing on shorter fiction. I miss nonfiction a lot right now, and I’ve got a lot of stuff built up that’s gonna take me a while– for example, a 2600-page no-that-is-not-a-typo biography of Abraham Lincoln that is so big I can’t figure out how to read it in a physical sense– ie, how to hold the book while I read it. I’m reading it this year. I’m about 60% through Gone with the Wind right now, which is over a thousand. I also want to read through the Wheel of Time books; there are something like twelve or thirteen of them and they’re all close to or over a thousand pages each. I read about half the series before realizing how much Jordan had left to write and then bailed– and then Jordan died, and Brandon Sanderson took over, but now that they’re finally all written I can actually finish reading them.

Other reading goals: 1) Read every Stephen King book, in order (I’ve already started this, but The Stand is next, which is– again– a million pages long, so I put it off; and 2) I’m 1/3 of the way through The List and I want to be much closer to finishing that by the end of the year. That oughtta keep me busy.

(Have I talked about The List on here? I don’t remember. I’ll fill y’all in later if you want to know.)

Make it to Bloomington for a weekend sometime this summer. Also, Louisville, where I have some friends who I haven’t seen in forever. I haven’t been to Bloomington since 2005; it’s one of my favorite cities and it’s crazy that it’s been that long since I’ve been there. In addition, I’d like to go somewhere– and I’ll leave that generic– that I’ve never been to before. The boy’s old enough now that we can travel with him. Just come up with a place and go. (NOTE: This is the least likely of all goals thus far to actually happen. Overcoming my own inertia is insanely challenging.)

Buy a decent telescope, finally. Use it.

Learn piano, or at least learn a few songs I’m comfortable with. This is more achievable than it sounds because we actually own a piano; my wife plays. I failed spectacularly at learning ukulele this year, but I have some reason to believe that achieving at least moderate competence on piano will be easier.

Be a better teacher during the second half of the school year than I was during the first. Blah blah blah teaching sucks because reasons. Stop whining; do better anyway.

Watch less Sesame Street. Because gaaaah.

I’ll likely add to this as the day goes on. Feel free to check back ceaselessly if you like.

In which I am ignorant: also, blogwanking

world-map-tattoo

As of today I’m halfway through Winter Break.  Thus far I’m not– at least as far as I know– making myself or anyone else crazy, which is a good thing, because I’m bad at vacations.  On the other hand, other than the big renovation project, you may have noticed that I’m kiiiinda starting to run low on viable interesting blog topics since all I’m doing with my life lately is lazing about my house with a book in my hand and occasionally whacking something with a hammer or a saw.  I went to work yesterday; it was the first time I’d left the house for longer than two minutes since Christmas.

So, uh, let’s talk about… geography?  Sure.

I am, as I’ve already discussed this week, a data nerd.  I’m a math teacher in the real world, remember, and apparently I come by that shit honestly.  One of the unexpected fun bonuses of running a blog is that it provides me with a never-ending sea of data to play with:  how many hits did I get today?  Followers?  Likes?  What’s the ratio of unique visitors to page views today?  Have I set any records lately? I posted a comment on that site, it brought me over a dozen visitors!

Stuff, in other words, that is entirely meaningless in any real-world fashion but is fun for me to play with in my head. While I wouldn’t mind more detail, WordPress does a decent job of giving me my site statistics in a nicely visual, manipulable way and I spend more time than I probably should each day staring at my stats.

Way more time, if I’m being honest.  Way, way more time.

I said I was a nerd; shuddup.

That said, looky here:

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.21.33 AMAnybody with a WordPress blog reading this has seen this map already; it’s how WordPress shows you where your traffic is coming from.  I’m fascinated by this, and days where I get a new country (six hits from Guernsey today!  Finally picked up Thailand yesterday!) never fail to give me a little thrill in my jibbly parts.  WordPress is kinda weird about how they determine what is a country or not.  For example, I have no hits from China, which does not surprise me given China’s policy on censoring the internet.  I do, however, have a number of hits from Taiwan and Hong Kong, which are both part of China, so apparently WordPress is distinguishing the mainland from former territories, or something; I’m not sure.   Similarly, to use today’s example, from looking at Wikipedia I get the impression that no one from Guernsey would assert that Guernsey is its own country– yet there it is in my “countries” list.

Some interesting (to me) facts about my traffic:

  • The biggest countries are entirely unsurprising: the United States, followed by the other three English-speaking democracies:  the UK, Canada, and Australia.  Fourth and fifth place are Norway and Switzerland.
  • I have no traffic whatsoever from anywhere in Central America.  Not one damn country.
  • Most of Europe is represented except for some bits of Eastern Europe, mostly former Soviet republics and, annoyingly, Finland.  I don’t know why not having a hit from Finland annoys me except for the fact that Sweden and Norway are so well represented.  I know Finland was Soviet-dominated to a degree that Norway and Sweden never were, and all of the rest of the European countries I’m missing are former Soviet Union or at least Soviet bloc countries; that might have something to do with it but I’m not sure what.
  • Way more African countries are represented than I might have expected:  Sudan, for instance, which is probably the single most surprising country I’ve gotten traffic from.  Ethiopia, also.
  • Macedonia shows up as “Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic.”  Its official name according to the UN is “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”  I’m sure that there’s some history behind that that I’m currently ignorant of (mental note: research) but it seems rrrreeeallly weird.  That said I may start a movement to rename the US as The Former British and French and Spanish Colony and Before That Indigenous Peoples-Occupied Land of the United States of America.  Sounds more fun that way.
  • I really want someone from Greenland to visit my blog, because Greenland is so damn big.  🙂

One thing that all this has brought to mind is that my geography isn’t what it used to be.  I had a teacher in seventh grade who insisted that every kid who passed his class memorize the globe.  Which I did, happily.  The problem is that that means my geography froze in about 1988– and the Soviet Union didn’t fall apart until 1991.  My Eastern Europe and Asia geography is therefore not nearly as good as I want it to be.

Don’t get me wrong:  the classical stereotype of Americans ignorant about geography is that they “can’t find XXX on a map.”  So long as we’re talking about countries, at least, there’s no place on Earth I can’t find on a map within a few seconds, and I suspect I’d do pretty damn well with capitals and major cities even if I hadn’t heard of them beforehand; I know enough about what languages sound like to be able to pin most places down to a region quickly and after that it won’t take long.  What I’m talking about is handing me a blank map and asking me to fill it in.  I’m not as good at that as I want to be, and I’ve been reminded of it enough lately (Slovenia!  Latvia!  Which ones are those, again?) that I need to fix it.

That’ll give me something to do over the next week or so while I’m not pounding on things, right?