In which I plan

I always feel like I need some sort of master plan any time I have a break in class lasting longer than a weekend. I have never actually been any good at relaxing as a thing unto itself; the good news is that I do consider a number of my leisure activities as doing something, so if I come out of the next four days having read three books that’s actually a Thanksgiving well-spent. We are not especially observing the holiday; there’s going to be ham and au gratin potatoes for the three of us tomorrow, and there will be additional food distributed to our (socially distanced, mask-wearing) dads this weekend, but nobody’s risking anything. I already feel like I’ve dodged enough bullets just with the covid that’s passed through my classroom; we’re not about to tempt fate by having even just family over.

So, yeah. I’m going to try to get something done over the next four days, if only so that I have an answer to “What did you do over your break?” next week, but right now other than a lot of video games I’m not sure what the hell that’s going to look like.


I need to have a word with you, Internet. I have joked several times on Twitter that anyone who wanted to hack into my student loans was welcome to, so long as they paid them.

When I said that, I meant with your own money, and I randomly glanced at my bank account earlier today to discover, rather unpleasantly, that I was overdrawn. Somehow my student loans had processed twice, which was … a problem. A quick balance transfer kept me from getting hit with any overdraft fees, but further investigation revealed that a third payment was pending and just hadn’t shown up on my bank account yet. I was able to straighten everything out with no more damage than an hour of my time, a fee from my bank for reversing the two charges, and I’ve changed all the relevant passwords, but … yeah, this one’s a mystery.

Seriously, though. It was supposed to be your money.

In which Twitter goes subcutaneous

I am exceptionally annoyed that I genuinely can’t think of anything that I accomplished this year beyond the raw fact that at least so far I’ve survived the motherfucker. I replied to this on Twitter and said that all I could really think of were some minor social media metrics– the blog is going to get more hits than last year, and I’ve written here more than last year, and I’ve built my TikTok account from zero to nearly 5K in the last few months, but … I feel like calling those accomplishments is giving them more credit than they deserve.

Like, I read a bunch? And as of right now I’m caught up on my grading? That’s what I’ve got to brag on.

Survival’s going to have to be enough this year, I think. I’m putting off trying to achieve anything until at least February.

(Also, it’s a sign of just how tired people are of this year that they’re starting to try and trigger the end-of-year reminiscence and award-season bullshit in November.)

In which this isn’t fair

It is an unbelievably perfect demonstration of how fucking perverse all of existence is right now that, literally less than ten minutes after telling my wife that I was getting (hah!) stir-crazy and wanted to go out and impulse-buy something, I went outside and checked the mail and found a brand-new Goddamned Best Buy card waiting for me. The card currently carries no balance at all; I typically use it only for large purchases (really, the only reason I ever enter a Best Buy nowadays) and the last thing I bought was my desktop, which is a 2017 model. I could use a new laptop, as the battery on the old one is starting to go, or I could make the smarter choice and just replace the damn battery. Similarly, for the first time since my initial upgrade I’ve cast an eye at the new Apple Watch, but there’s just no good reason to do that either. In either case it would be spending money just to spend money, and I’m trying to be smarter about that crap nowadays.

(I do expect to have to shell out the money for the laptop battery pretty soon, which will be a couple hundred bucks. But the thing is … six? seven? years old and there’s no speed issues at all, and if I bought a new one it would be north of two grand. The only problem is the battery, and since I don’t go anywhere I can keep it plugged in most of the time. I even still have my work laptop at home in case of emergencies.)

(Checks to see if BB has PS5s available)

(They do not)


In general, the election has failed to improve my mood. Other than the presidency, which is all over but the shouting at this point, I went from “it looks like I’ve lost every other race I care about” the other day to “I have lost every other race I care about” today. The School Board race was especially heinous; not only did the plagiarizer not lose her seat to the crank, but the other district seat up for reelection, another person who voted to return, also won, and the teachers lost their best advocate on the Board in favor of an imperious ass who I am not at all looking forward to having to deal with, ever. My personal interactions with her when she was with the district were never good, plenty of people have much worse stories than I do, and her husband was fired for incompetence.

And yet, because this is South Bend and we hate education here, she actually got the most votes of any of the At-Large candidates. So. Dandy.

But yeah: I’ve been waiting for that moment when it feels like the weight falls off my shoulders, and apparently Biden at least theoretically clinching the Presidency hasn’t done it yet. In theory the rest of the networks (particularly the AP) getting the fuck in line and making the call might help, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to relax until the fucker is hauled out of the White House by his hairpiece, preferably to be tossed directly into jail to die alone in a deep pit. Apparently the AP is waiting for Biden’s margin to exceed half a point before they call Pennsylvania; I’m not sure what the holdup is otherwise. Either way, I thought I was going to feel better about all this by now.

RIP, Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine passed away last night. I have twenty-three books by her in the house, with one preordered (what I assume will be the final book in the excellent Stillhouse Lake series) and three more freshly ordered and on the way, as I decided to get off my ass about finishing the Great Library books. That’s without having read anything from what’s probably her best-known work, the fifteen-book Morganville Vampires series. And once those incoming four are all in the house I might have half of her books; the total is approaching sixty, many of them bestsellers.

She is, by any measure, one of my favorite authors– I probably have more books by Stephen King and I might have more books by Seanan McGuire, who is similarly prolific– but that’s it.(*) Rachel had already survived a battle with breast cancer earlier in her life and was diagnosed … last year? Earlier this year? Fairly recently, one way or another, with an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma that finally took her away from us last night. She’d been open on her various social media feeds about the cancer and the toll it was taking but was writing until very close to the end; recent tweets from her still refer to the forthcoming Stillhouse book as the “newest” in the series and not the “last.” Hell, for all I know she’s written three more of them and they’re just waiting to be published. She was fast enough; it wouldn’t really be a surprise. Various surgeries and chemotherapy didn’t work, and I suspect by the end she was going through something very similarly to what my mom had to endure for the last months of her life, where the wounds from ostensibly lifesaving surgery simply wouldn’t close up and heal. Her assistant more or less officially took over her Twitter feed on Friday, letting us all know that it wouldn’t be long, and the official notice that she was gone came this morning.

I never met Rachel; she was reasonably active on the con circuit so if she hadn’t gotten sick it probably would have happened eventually, but you can’t read eight thousand pages of someone’s work and not feel like you know them on at least some level. I think we would have gotten along pretty well, and one way or another, she will be missed.

Fuck cancer.

(*) It is literally hours later, and because this is exactly the type of nerd I am I eventually found myself unable to not determine this for sure. Total number of Seanan McGuire books: eighteen. First count of Stephen King books: at least 38, but his are spread throughout the house and are in a bunch of different types of editions and there are a few titles that we have more than one copy of because before marrying me my wife occasionally bought books on her own. I would not be surprised to discover that I missed as many as half a dozen, but that would probably be cancelled out by the ones we have duplicates of, so let’s say “around 40,” call it a day, and hope that my brain doesn’t demand further clarification at 4:00 in the morning.

Assess the new look

I have had two problems with my lifestyle lately. One, I’m spending way too much time sitting in front of the computer– which remains vastly preferable to the alternative, but still an issue. Two, I am bald and for some reason bald this year has been cold in a way that it simply hasn’t in previous years.

Enter the skullcap, which fits nicely (more of a problem than you might believe; it’s nearly impossible to find hats that fit) and which I intend to wear around the house and outdoors on these sorts of days, and the fact that I am back in glasses, sort of, which will sit by the computer and be worn nowhere else, as they are blue light blockers and are supposed to cut down on eyestrain. I have close friends who will be mildly berated if they don’t work.

(This is not true. I have been describing myself as reasonably financially comfortable for a few years now, and my definition of “comfortable” is “can spend $20 pretty much whenever I like.” These glasses were $20. I won’t even bother returning them if I decide they don’t work.)

I sort of like the look of the skullcap (feel free to yell at me if you disagree) but I’m not in love with the Harry Potter style of the glasses. Then again, this picture will be the only time anyone who isn’t married to or genetically related to me sees them, so I don’t much care what they look like. I’ve gotta say, it’s weird having glasses back on my face again.

(Figures eyes are already hurty enough for the day, takes them off, figuring it won’t get worse)

(Questions own logic)

(Does it anyway)


Blah blah blah blah election panic-cakes. Amy Coney Barrett’s successful nomination makes it all the more critical that we take the Senate and then pack the hell out of the Supreme Court, hopefully impeaching Brett Kavanaugh along the way. My position all along has been that Coney’s nomination was legitimate– there wasn’t a “no election years!” rule when Merrick Garland was nominated and there isn’t one now– but that she should nonetheless be opposed with, well, every arrow in our quiver, Ms. Pelosi, and with every procedural trick and lowdown dirty bit of nonsense our parliamentarians can come up with.

Welp.

There are a number of dark and depressing paths my brain could wander down at the moment; I’m doing my best to cling to what little optimism I can find. If the election is won by a large enough margin we don’t have to worry about the electoral college or the Supreme Court stealing it, and if the presidency is won by that large of a margin it should take the Senate with it. We’ll worry about that first, then move on to the other stuff.

The degree to which the last two Supreme Court nominees are poster children for overpromoted white mediocrity is pretty impressive, by the way. I actually brought up Coney Barrett last time around as an example of a nominee they could have picked who wasn’t a drunken, belligerent rapist and would still be a stenographer for whatever the Republicans wanted, but I still feel like there still has to be someone out there who has maybe been a judge for longer than I spent in high school, or, like, actually been a lawyer, maybe. But whatever. It’s fine, she’s white, that’s good enough for them, yeah? Sure.