In which this is happening

Before I get into this: it is definitely darker in here. Turns out the reason is obvious; the corner of the room is gonna be darker than the middle. So I need a touch more light in here, one way or another.

I made an appointment yesterday; I’m having LASIK surgery on July 13th.

Am I fucking terrified? Why, yes, why would you ask? That said, intellectually I’m pretty certain it’s going to be fine; everyone who has told me they had the procedure has had either no regrets at all or, at the worst, some complaints about floaters and night driving. I expect that in ten to fifteen years I’ll probably be back in reading glasses and that’s okay so long as I can do things like see in the shower in the meantime; I dropped the soap today (shut up) and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to find it again because I was blind as a fucking bat. That sort of thing happens all the time but now that I’m scheduled to have something done about it I resent the hell out of it.

I did find one site dedicated to The Evils Of LASIK that was absolutely screaming This Was Written by Conspiracy Theorists; I don’t know if that’s a web theme or what but even the layout of the page was loudly hollering that I should disregard everything they had to say.

It’ll be fine. I expect an epic blog post out of it, but it’ll be fine.

In other news, I’ve been writing all morning, but not on a story– I’ve been putting together a D&D session for my wife and son this weekend. It’s a basic dungeon crawl that I’m basically tossing in as an add-on to a session from their Essentials kit; I’m thinking about posting it to Patreon when I’m done if that’s something you might be interested in. We’ll see how the session goes.

2:49 PM, Friday June 26: 2,444,483 confirmed cases and about to set the third “most cases in a single day” record in three days, and 124,732 Americans dead.


Okay, I can’t find a way to get the video to embed, so you’re going to have to click on a link, but I’m pretty sure that this moment should have destroyed the world.  Or at least the Internet.  What I can’t figure out is whether it should have destroyed the Internet from sheer awesome or sheer horror.

And at least half of these guys, despite the enthusiasm of the article, appear to be deeply uncomfortable with whatever the hell it is they’re doing.

Please.  You owe it to your children to click on this.

Russian police choir sings “Get Lucky” before Sochi opening ceremony

Speaking of spiders…

This lovely darling was discovered yesterday on the door at OtherJob; he is slightly larger than a quarter and furry. The furry spiders, as you all well know, are the scarier ones. I saw him first and pointed him out to the other person I was working with, who I believe is a high school senior. He is not, unfortunately, the most masculine high school senior I’ve ever met; his reaction was not quite Scooby-Doo windmilling his legs before jumping into Shaggy’s arms, but was close enough. I proceeded to continue horrifying him by rescuing the spider with a plastic putter and, fighting off the urge to chase the kid around the golf course, deposited him safely in a nearby bush.

“He’s gonna come back,” the kid said. “Remember the katydid?”

(I never told you the katydid story because it’s sad. Short, not-sad version: we couldn’t convince a katydid that it was safer outside the clubhouse than inside it.)

“I doubt it,” I said, thinking of the wide expanse of concrete the spider would have to cross in more-or-less broad daylight. “We won’t see him again.”

Fast forward about three hours, when there is a blood-curdling scream from somewhere around course three. I rush outside to discover a female customer in her mid-forties or so jumping up and down, wailing, and waving her arms frantically in front of her face.

Her husband described the spider that had webbed down directly in front of her face as “about the size of a quarter” and said “yup, that’s it” when I showed him the picture I’d taken. His wife was not pleased when I used the word “hilarious” to describe the situation.

Well, no, ma’am, your spine-tingling horror isn’t funny. It’s just that I could have killed that spider a few hours ago and saved you the trouble. I coulda said that. I chose not to.

I’m hoping there are no insect stories today.

Don’t read this if you respect me


…I fully expect this to be my most popular post of all time, by the way.

Alongside this whole “don’t yell at kids” thing I’ve been doing lately I’ve been trying in general to become a gentler person.  At some point in the last few weeks I decided (possibly at the spirited urging of some internet people) that I wasn’t going to be automatically killing spiders any longer.  Seeing a spider no longer means trying to kill a spider.  They eat other bugs.  This is good, right?  We like spiders; we should keep them around.

There’s been a spider living in my bathroom for the last week or so.  Just a little house spider type of dude, one of the almost-transparent kinds, not like the black monstrosity I killed in the tub not too long ago (and, I think, blogged about, but I’m not gonna go looking right now.)  He’s been hanging out in the upper corners of the bathroom, so even if I were inclined to kill him, he’d be hard to reach and I’d have to stand on something– no real point, right?  So for several days every time I’ve gone into the bathroom I’ve spent a few seconds looking around to see if I could spot him.  The other day– Wednesday morning, maybe?– he happened to scuttle into the laundry room before I closed the door, and I’ve not seen him in the bathroom since.  Which, weirdly, was sorta sad.  I’d started thinking of him as a bit of a pet.  For all I know, the dog ate him.

My wife went down into our (more-or-less unfinished) basement tonight to go through some stuff and called me down; it rained like hell all day today and we had some water on the floor in the utility room and, as it turned out, some more– inexplicably in the middle of the damn room– in the main area down there.  I discovered the wet area in the main room by accident– by stepping in it, wearing socks.  Which led me to take my socks off and cuff my jeans a bit, as my jeans are generally a bit too long when I’m not wearing shoes.  Several times as we were poking around looking for wet spots (shut up, you’re gross) I walked through cobwebs.  They don’t freak me out like they do some people but they’re still kinda skeevy, y’know?  Nobody likes walking through cobwebs.

Being bald and walking through cobwebs is more unpleasant than usual, by the way.  Trust me.

Anyway, I’m brushing myself off every three seconds and my feet are cold and my pants and socks are wet and WHY THE HELL DOES EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE LEAK ALL THE SUDDEN JESUS CHRIST and suddenly it occurs to me that I have to use the bathroom.  There is no bathroom in the basement.  And, believe me, ordinary “have to use the bathroom” types of experiences get rather radically worse quickly when you have to use the bathroom while barefoot on a cold tile floor and wet.

“Gotta go,” I told my wife, and headed upstairs.

Where I entered the bathroom and, well, went.  This was, shall we say, a multiple event, necessitating a seated position, and because I’m like that I grabbed a book on the way into the bathroom.  (There’s a post coming about John Green, by the way.)  So I’m seated and reading my book and taking care of business… and my fucking pet spider drops onto the top of my head, scuttles off, lands on the book, and then drops into my underwear.

I will allow you to imagine the sequence of events that followed, as my skill as an author cannot do justice to what actually occurred.

I kill spiders on sight again, by the way.

On intimidation

20130812-192122.jpgAnd suddenly, now, with just barely over a week left until school starts, I’m stressed out.

The worst teacher I ever had– by such a margin that the title is not even in question– was my freshman honors Algebra teacher. I got a D in his class during the third quarter; I don’t remember the grades in the other three, because the D was so shocking– it was not only the only D I got in my entire academic career, I’m almost certain that there weren’t even any Cs to keep it company.

After every test, he would change the seats. He’d arrange everyone by grade, with no attention paid to any other aspect of seat arrangement– such as, say, whether you could see the board or not. The lower your grade got, the closer you were to the front of the room. The very worst grade in the class was reserved for the front row, right by his desk.

He let you retake tests for a better grade. The retake test would be from a different textbook, though, and if you were retaking Chapter Four’s test, you’d better hope that Chapter Four from that other textbook covered the same material or something you could handle, because if not, too bad– he averaged the two grades together, meaning it was entirely possible to pull your grade down for the retake. Weirdly, most of the kids in his class hadn’t figured out how he was coming up with these new tests; I think most of them just thought either he was really hard or they were stupid. No, he was stupid. And lazy, and destructive.

One of my finer moments in my freshman year– and, honestly, there weren’t many; most of my freshman year memories are painful in some way or another– was figuring his game out halfway through a test retake that I was utterly bombing and, instead of turning the thing in at the end of the hour he’d given us after school, ripping the thing to shreds and throwing it away instead. Minor rebellions, obviously, but it felt good: I figured out your game, John, and you can go fuck yourself.

I hated that fucker. Now, twenty-two or so years later, I’m teaching his class– my honors 8th graders are taking freshman-level Algebra. I have the textbook right in front of me. Now, mind you, I know this shit. I made it through the year and I have repeatedly demonstrated over the course of the intervening years (if nothing else, by passing the PRAXIS; I was in the ninth decile somewhere) that I can handle this material.

But man, am I suddenly sweating teaching it.

Flipping through the book has been intermittently terrifying in the way that flipping through math textbooks is always terrifying; looking over what I’ll be covering in the first six weeks revealed a couple of vocabulary words that I didn’t immediately remember the definitions of but produced an “Oh, that” type of reaction when I found the definitions. Most of it really isn’t so far from the math I’m teaching. But I don’t want to be adequate about this. I want to already be the best Math teacher these kids have ever had, and by the end of taking their second Math class with me I want to be even better.

Terror! Whee!

One other thing that’s hammering on me, here, is the teacher I had for sophomore year math– Geometry, in other words. At the time, he was the best Math teacher I’d ever had, and one of the best teachers, period. Then I had him again for Calculus senior year. And it wasn’t the same. I don’t know what changed, really; if I just had really bad senioritis and I wasn’t prepared to take his class as seriously as it deserved (I was also taking Physics, which was kicking my ass just as hard as Calculus was, but I was excelling in Physics despite the workload) or if he didn’t feel as confident about the material, or if he was trying to Hold Us to a Higher Standard and it just wasn’t working out, or what. But it wasn’t the same. If I’d only had him for Calculus, I’d have forgotten his name by now, and honestly my goodwill toward his class would have worn out a hell of a lot sooner. I only made it as far as I did because I’d liked him so much sophomore year.

These kids loved me when they had me in sixth grade. (Something like 30 of the 33 kids were in my class that year; this isn’t an exaggeration.) Now they’ve got me two years later, for what should be a much harder class. This isn’t exactly a shaky analogy I’m constructing here.

Not only do I have to do better than one of the worst teachers I ever had, at the material he was supposed to teach me, which is intimidating enough, I have to outdo one of the best teachers I ever had, by being better than he was the second time around.

I ain’t saying I’ve bitten off more than I can chew; I don’t think I have. But damn, does my mouth feel full right now.