Thursday, September 27, 2012

New books I am drooling over this fall

What's coming up this fall that makes me want to curl up in a ball and read all day?  So many things!  But these two sort of eclipse anything else.
  • Cold Days by Jim Butcher: Oh, Harry.  He was kind of dead in the last one, but now that he's not dead anymore, things get even worse.  Making a deal with a fae is not a good idea, but, honestly?  Harry didn't have any other choice if he wanted to save people he loved.  He tried his best to wiggle out of it, but, well, the fae can be pretty determined.  I don't know if he'll manage to wriggle out of this one in this book or a future one, but I am signed up with bated breath to watch how he tries.
  • Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold: I have grown to appreciate Ivan somewhat more in my mellow old age, but he still drives me a bit crazy.  I have no idea what kind of company he'll be on a novel-length outing, but he did all right in his part in A Civil Campaign.  And, honestly?  Who wouldn't want to see the big lout finally really fall in love and maybe actually settle down just like his mother always wanted.  (Kicking and screaming and whining the whole heroic way, I've no doubt, and I can't wait to find out.)
Others that look interesting:
  • The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson: He can pull off series work, spin offs, stand-alones, and other people's series.  And it has a cool cover that makes me think of Guy Gavriel Kay for some reason.
  • The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks: I am being SO GOOD and not starting series that aren't finished yet.  It huuuuuuuuurts.
  • Son by Lois Lowry: How does she get away with writing about these subjects?  Whoa.  This is another book set in the same world as The Giver, and the setup is even more brutal, so bring along your tissues.
  • The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams: His War of the Flowers was awesome, and I've no doubt that this will be engaging (and happily theologically incorrect), as well, but it's a series, so it's on the backburner for now.
Anything freshly out or on its way in the next few months that you're looking forward to reading?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Discussion not fighting

"The cable-news model is that you want to create a fight," she says. "Because people will yell! And there will be exclamation points and things will be in ALL CAPS and people will watch! Having been the left-wing person booked to fight with the right-wing person in that Punch and Judy show, I'm not interested in re-creating that. If I've booked you, I feel like you've got something worth listening to. With conservative guests, that means you can't just be a random hack who's here to fight with me because I am who I am. You've got to bring something to it where even without sparks flying and even with it being civil, you're going to illuminate something that I can't." - Rachel Maddows

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why I'll probably never be that teacher

To be that teacher,
  • I would probably need to get a PhD.  Not because it would make me a better teacher, but because schools like that, and they prefer to hire people with doctorates.
  • I would need to be able to teach at least a couple of adjunct classes a semester every semester for several years to gain experience.  Better yet, I would need to be able to devote myself to adjunct teaching full time for several years.  Most places like experience, even if they don't know what kind of teacher you are. You need experience to make them even care to look into what kind of teacher you are.
  • I would need to pursue publication seriously.  Not that publication is a sign that your writing is necessarily better than others, but having a publication record is important to schools, especially ones that want to be seen as serious schools.
Even if I could do all of these things, it would still not guarantee me a chance to try to be that teacher.  However, if I can't do these things, the chance of me ever getting to try to be that teacher is basically 0.  And the truth is that I can't really do these things.  Story of my life recently.  I don't have the time, money, energy, lowered standards, or stubborn willpower needed.  I am broken and hurting and not sleeping well and not at my mental best. It's all I can do to hold down a full time job with benefits to help me pay for all the medical treatments and medications. 

I have been thinking about dreams again lately.  I have wanted to teach since I was in high school, and I have taught, so that dream has come true.  If I'm honest, I'll also admit that what I wanted to do was teach full time.  If I pursue this desire, I will have to sacrifice many other things for the possibility that I may be able to do what I want and think I am gifted at. 

A problem is that I want to help people in my church and community now.  If I choose to live in the future in my dream, I sacrifice the good I can do now.  And that feels selfish to me right now.  Other people who are slaving and sacrificing for their dreams maybe don't feel that way, and I think that's fine for them.  More power to 'em.  But I don't think I can plan ahead like this anymore.  I think I want to help concretely now.  I want to be that teacher, too, but maybe some wants are more important than others.  Maybe those things are what I should be wanting more.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I want to be that teacher

I have fulfilled my dream of teaching college writing by teaching a couple of online composition classes, and I still want to be that teacher.  I think I would be good at being that teacher.  You know, the one who
  • knows all about the major and minors and department and catalog and makes sure her advisees are on track.  
  • is dedicated to helping students understand and learn and apply.  
  • teaches students to love learning and words and communication.
  • students love and come to for help because they can tell the teacher loves them and wants to help them succeed.  
  • learns from her students and takes delight in learning all sorts of things.  
  • loves her job and constantly finds ways to love it anew.  
  • is involved in the school and helps out on committees and in the community.  
  • has office hours and is available outside them.  
  • has an office you want to stay in, so you can look around.  
  • teaches students about how to try to be a decent human being.  
I want to be that teacher.  And I don't think I ever will be.  And it hurts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Regret vs. Common Sense vs. Expectations vs. Peace

And then there's this simple question from the doctor:

"You've been in pain from this for 5-and-a-half years, and this is the first time a doctor is seeing it? "

Well, yes.  Funny how that happened.  I fell and landed on my back and then saw doctors for that and then had physical therapy.  At physical therapy, they improved my back, and my hip started hurting.  The PT folks said to come back if the hip didn't improve on its own.  When it still hurt a few years later and I had a better job, I went to PT for it without seeing a doctor.  It makes sense.  But five and a half years?  Is my sense of pain and my way of dealing with it so screwed up that I would let this thing happen to me when I would not let it happen to another?

The regrets start again. 

What if
I had gone
right when it
started hurting
or at least earlier
than 5 years? 
Could I have prevented something?  Lessened
some damage?  Did my lack
cause this more serious hurt?
Could this regret have been prevented?

Common sense intrudes. 

And when
would you have found
time for this?  And money? 
And energy?  You did not
have these things.  Let go.  Learn.  Move on. 
Stop hurting yourself more
over the hurt you may
or may not
have done yourself. 
Be at peace.
Live now. 

I try to convince myself not to expect the worst.

Maybe it's not torn cartilage or arthritis.  Maybe it is something to do with the natural structure and inflammation, and it can be fixed.  Maybe the flying pigs can fix it after they stop this sick feeling in my stomach which may be more related to allergies than stressing out about imaginary potential hip surgery it will be hard for me to afford.  Or not so imaginary tests involving needles in my hip and how debilitated I was from needles in my wrist.

Be at peace, dagnabbit.  Why won't you listen? 

Worrying won't help.  God is with you.  
You'll be fine no matter what happens.

Clutch towel. Don't panic.

Breathe in.  Breathe out. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20, and I want to punch it in the face

Once upon a time, I fell on the ice on a sidewalk.  It was next to a part of a building that was for rent, and the owners didn't want to pay to have the parking lot lights on.  It was a cartoon fall, one second walking cautiously, the next hitting my back and head on the sidewalk and looking up at my feet in a, "How did those get up there?" sort of way.  From the ground I could see that the whole untreated sidewalk was a single sheet of ice.  (Isn't that always how it works.) 

Emergency room, nothing broken, physical therapy, trouble getting the bones and muscles to realign correctly.  Pain increasing in the hip.  No money for more PT.  No time.  No energy.   

I decided not to sue.  I was in pain from several injuries, working full time, attending school part time, fighting with the Federal Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, increasingly bad insomnia from the pain and nerve activity, and the resulting really poor judgment. 

Today the doctor said scary words like cartilage tear and flattening and overhang and arthritis and tests and injecting dye into the hip.  Now that I'm contemplating an MRI (not very well covered by my insurance) and (please God no) possibly surgery and recovery (also not well-covered) and my third story apartment and the huge layoff my company will be having next month, I want to go back and force myself to sue the building owners for negligence.  Now that I have a better job and have graduated from school and given up on OWCP, I could probably handle it.  Back then, I just couldn't, even though I should have.  I simply didn't have the energy or time to do the thing I should have.

Retrospect sucks.  Like a bog.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Please don't be That Guy if you're going to sit near me

Ah, the beginning of the school year.  A time when new students come to campus and learn all sorts of things.  A time when I observe as said new students provide me with examples of things you should never say when you are a new student on campus at your first club meeting if you want to, you know, make friends. 

This year's gem happened when a new student kept getting shushed for talking during shows in the anime club.  It's understandable that he was miffed; they hadn't gone over the rules yet.  (I kept telling myself that; it helped.)  Then, when the admin council explained that one of our rules is to respect each other by not talking during shows, this new student said loudly, "Wow!  I've never been in a club before that had rules against having fun!  That's so weird that you have a rule against having fun!"

Yeah, so if you are new to a club, don't be That Guy who loudly criticizes the traditions and rules of the club the first day without even bothering to find out why they exist/are in place.  This is assuming that you are actually interested in making a good impression/generating goodwill/potentially making friends or even just staying invisible.  If that's not your agenda, well, go ahead, I guess.  Knock yourself out.  Just don't sit behind me.  Thanks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why marathoning a show is not always a good idea

I watched most of the first season of the Big Bang Theory over the course of a couple of weeks.  I enjoyed the show, but I noticed something kind of odd.  In this marathon--and back when I marathoned Firefly--I began to suspect that episodic shows with multiple writers (most of them for weekly television series, I would imagine) tend to seem kind of scattered.  I didn't comb through scientifically, but there seems to be a pattern where certain episodes play up certain facets of certain characters, and I wonder if the episodes that play up the same thing are by the same writers.  I don't know if some writers just like certain characters or feel that certain sides of those characters don't get enough screen time, but the overall combination can seem oddly uneven when watched en masse.

I hesitate to say that this makes the whole seem artificial because by nature these things are artificial: they're TV shows about fictional people, but maybe this is why shows are still often played weekly: people don't nit-pick about this sort of thing when there's a whole week of life in between brief viewings of these fictional lives.

While Firefly was definitely more obvious in this regard, it's only fair to point out that it was also shorter in terms of episodes, so maybe the episodes that would have helped even things out never got made.

Are there any shows where you've noticed this disparity between character continuity in different episodes?  Do you care?