Rant VIII: The Reckoning

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The detailed version of what happened today is that I design most of my tests to be online tests. This is something the district likes too, because it means data can be gathered and displayed. I like it because it gives the kids experience using computers, and it gives them instant feedback.

But none of that fucking matters if our internet crashes... AGAIN. This is a recurring problem, on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Add to that our Chromebooks have some very straightforward maintenance needs that are being neglected for budget reasons, and it drives me nuts. My district will not shut the fuck up about the need to use tech in the classroom, but they do nothing to actually support it.
 
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My dad plateaued. He stopped getting better. He is being sent home for hospice care.

He will likely go in an ugly manner. I don't really know if gathering everyone around is such a great idea.
The doctors figured out that Dad has good health insurance, so now they are going to continue his treatments. That is being a little sarcastic. I guess the real reason is like I mentioned that he was a fully functioning adult before his infection. Now he is in a nursing home getting rehabilitated so he can return home.
 
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I have tomorrow off. Requested it, even.
Because my wife’s grandpa died a month or so ago, and his other progeny want to make an EVENT of carrying his ashes Up North and scattering them at one of his favorite places...but all in one day’s worth of trip.

So in order to make the FIVE HOUR drive there, hang out, and then drive back all in one day, we have to meet up with everyone and then LEAVE at 5am. All 10 or so of us, all in one van (“for the camaraderie!”), and they want to do the drive without any stops. Oh, and our 9yr-old son will be with us, too.

I‘m bringing a 20,000mAh USB brick, I’m going to eat half a cup of salt before we go, and I’m bringing an empty 24oz creme soda bottle for when the kid just can’t hold it any more. It’s gonna be great.

—Patrick
 
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We’re only an hour and a half into the 10+hr trip, and one of the side windows on the van has been broken out (not by me, Kati, or the kid, though).

Yaaaaaayyyy...

—Patrick
 
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We’re only an hour and a half into the 10+hr trip, and one of the side windows on the van has been broken out (not by me, Kati, or the kid, though).

Yaaaaaayyyy...

—Patrick
You're already planning alternate means for your return, I hope?
 
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You're already planning alternate means for your return, I hope?
We’ve also been waved off the freeway because there’s a severe accident or awful road conditions ahead, had to take a 10mi detour.

EDIT: Don’t get me wrong, the treeline and brush covered with last night’s snow and all is absolutely gorgeous. But there are downsides.

—Patrick
 
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My wife is also writing things. She does not write about mutant armadillos, though. In fact her latest story is one more about the adventures of a more idealized version of herself. Says she can't stop, that the characters have stories that want to be told and that they'll get mad if she puts them off for too long.

You wrote a thing, too. Almost 2500 words long and I don't know how long it took, but by the looks of things it wanted OUT badly enough that you didn't have the luxury of going back and polishing the grammar before being dragged onward to the next paragraph. Now I don't consider myself a Writer (though I do consider myself talented with words), but I find myself wondering if the reason you are having so much trouble with Dill is because your brain has some other story that's getting tired of having its snooze button mashed because you're so focused on Marsha Dill, Dill, Dill. Not that there's anything wrong with Dill, just that someone else wants a turn. A spinoff character story from the Dillverse, maybe? A completely unrelated story about a guy/gal who literally catches fire every time (s)he gets embarrassed, and the difficulties that can cause. All the things that a $20 bill goes through/gets used for from that first day when it is birthed from an ATM. A guy who works at a coffee shop who goes out of his way to somehow brighten every customer's day, but who goes home every night to his mother's house where she heaps derision on him for not getting a real job and then drinks herself to sleep. Or you could write about a dog that just really, really wants to go to the beach, so he learns how to drive. The possibilities are literally endless. (heh)

I guess what I'm saying is...try some stuff. Write your dreams. Write other people's dreams. Heck, write porn if you find it inspiring. If past experience is any indication (Mine, my wife's, that of friends and other family, etc.) and you stumble across a story that wants to be told, you won't be able to stop it from coming out. And if you get stuck, or can't figure what to do/where to go next, then move on to something else. A different story, reorganizing your comics clothes, job hunting, laundry, sending a birthday card, pursuing a yoga career, helping someone move, whatever...the stories that most want to be told will be the loudest ones up front when you return to your keyboard, or maybe even just while you're brushing your teeth (keep a notebook handy wherever you go, I guess?).

There's even the possibility that you might find something else you enjoy MORE than writing. Painting, hiking, competitive eating, downhill skiing, community theater, origami, stop-motion animation, financial planning, playing the glass armonica, metalworking, or who knows what. You're not under any obligation to keep writing, after all, and if you discover that writing was actually just your tenth-most favorite thing, there is no shame in dumping it to take up some newly-discovered sixth-most favorite. You don't "owe" writing anything, you don't have a quota or a deadline, your livelihood doesn't depend on it, and if it becomes something you cut back to only once in a great while without suffering too much withdrawal, then that probably means you're coming out ahead.

To get back to my wife, again, she was obsessed for a while with recreating each of the towns from Heroes of Might and Magic III in painstaking detail in Minecraft. In Survival mode, no less (meaning she actually had to go mine the stuff she uses rather than just apparating it out of thin air). She put weeks, even months into building faithful reproductions (within the limits of Minecraft's voxels) such as this:
orig.jpg


mcrecreation.png


I know it's not obvious (the perspective in the actual game art is ... inconsistent at best), but the golden dome on top of the building on the left? Actual gold that she found and mined. She even made sure to use granite for the pillars on the leftmost building, just so they would stay pink. That tall, skinny castle? It has a working elevator inside of it, not to mention the time she spent scouting the location, preparing the land, building the roads that connect each of these towns...and she did all of this for free, in her spare time (what there was of it). Nobody commissioned it, it just happened because it would not be contained.

But then, two years ago, she just ... stopped. Burnt out, she said. But her last post talks about a love story she wrote. And she was always going on about the lore she imagined around the buildings she built.

And, some time later, she started writing. And she has not touched Minecraft even once* since that last post. But she sure has written a lot.

Anyway, what I guess I'm saying is, write stuff that is fulfilling. But if writing does not feel fulfilling, then maybe you should move on to something else. Skeet shooting. Ships in bottles. Home brewing. Whatever it takes. If it does turn out that writing really is that essential to your well-being, don't fret, it will let you know.

--Patrick
*Well, except for some "Mommy come play in my world" moments where she has hopped on because our son wants to show off whatever awesome new thing he's made/copied from YouTube. These usually end up being 20-30min max, though, since our son is young and therefore not really much of a "team player."
 
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I'm not necessarily fixated on Dill. If I could write something else, I'm fine with that. But aside from my memoir, I don't know anything else. I Iried the YA book and that was a disaster. But aside from those, I don't really have any other ideas begging to be explored. No one else wants a "turn." Dill doesn't even want a turn. Nothing does.
 
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I'm not necessarily fixated on Dill. If I could write something else, I'm fine with that. But aside from my memoir, I don't know anything else. I Iried the YA book and that was a disaster. But aside from those, I don't really have any other ideas begging to be explored. No one else wants a "turn." Dill doesn't even want a turn. Nothing does.
But you write all the time, just not stories. Let's recontextualize:



It’s been almost two years since I've slain anything substantial. I’ve said many times that I considered giving up – or already gave up – on dragon slaying. I don’t know what happened. Maybe writing this out will help me figure it out. So, let’s go on a journey into my fractured mind.

--

And I just don’t feel that way. Sure, it felt surreal holding the bleeding head of my first kill. That made it feel real. But it doesn’t feel like a success just like getting my knighthood from York Castle didn’t feel like an accomplishment because it took me 12 years to get a useless sword tap on each shoulder. One therapist held my first kill's skull up in front of me and straight up told me that this is an accomplishment. All I did was disagree.

--

I thought I could get my hunts mounted on palace walls. That’s always been my dream: to have my name shared alphabetically among my favorite dragon slayers, ideally in the outlander and/or fire-breathing sections. But because mine is a small shire largely with only small swamp dragons, it was an Arthurian task.

--
Of course, unspoken is that the dragon he really wants to slay ... is within.

Do that for the whole post and you have a fantasy story I've never seen before.
 
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I fell outside work today and bashed my eye socket, cut my lip, scraped my chin, skinned my knuckles, hurt my hand and skinned my knees. What in the actual fuck? I don’t really understand how I managed this. I just remember the dude picking me up off the ground.

A lady who was going to the same building kindly followed me inside and helped me to security and they called the paramedics. I had the choice of going to the hospital or not, and I chose not. They cleared me for immediate signs of concussion, but warned me that I’d be worse as the day went on.

My mouth has only just stopped bleeding and my eye is swollen shut.

And....this is how I looked meeting everyone at head office. Awesome.
 
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I fell outside work today and bashed my eye socket, cut my lip, scraped my chin, skinned my knuckles, hurt my hand and skinned my knees. What in the actual fuck? I don’t really understand how I managed this. I just remember the dude picking me up off the ground.

A lady who was going to the same building kindly followed me inside and helped me to security and they called the paramedics. I had the choice of going to the hospital or not, and I chose not. They cleared me for immediate signs of concussion, but warned me that I’d be worse as the day went on.

My mouth has only just stopped bleeding and my eye is swollen shut.

And....this is how I looked meeting everyone at head office. Awesome.
20190305_174021.jpg
 
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At first I thought you'd gotten two cartons of Winston cigarettes and was going to be a little upset.

--Patrick
 
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10 hours of rain. There are floods in all the province including my aunt home (she is ok and in my father's appartment). My brothers are for the moment trapped in other cities. And my umbrella broke getting out the bus.
 
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My interview in January seemed to go well. It was a position in my exact specialty and the committee seemed impressed. I knew it would take them a while to narrow the list of candidates so I just waited patiently. I teach online for them instead of face to face, so I couldn't just talk with the hiring chair and ask. Remember that committee members are trying to gauge your personality because they might be working with you for the rest of their careers. I didn't want to be pushy and was advised by my dissertation committee to just leave them alone. Okay, fair enough.

One of my friends works on campus. He heard that some job candidates were giving presentations. That was news to me, so he asked around. It turns out the committee already selected the final candidates and DIDN'T TELL ME. I'm not an external applicant who has never set foot on that campus. I'm already part of their goddamn faculty, worked there diligently for this past year, and was there when they needed to fill a specialized position, twice. Since I'm faculty, and they usually tell faculty when the job talks are, they make it a point to take my email off the department list for those particular messages (I still get the regular department updates).

I understand that the academic job market in humanities is abysmal. I know that prospects have been grim ever since the economy melted down in 2008. I realize that I'm competing with 200 other applicants for every assistant professorship and post-doc fellowship. I even get that many applicants have much more teaching experience and a longer publication record, and that they were laid off in 2008 so they're willing to take a huge pay cut in order to get back into academia. I know the deck is stacked against new PhDs like me. But they KNOW me. They're in the same Aggie network as me. The department head is even on a first-name basis with me. And they just did the academic equivalent of ghosting.

I suspect I'll get the boiler-plate "dear applicant" letter once their first choice accepts the job offer. Right now I'm well beyond irate with that university. And I can't protest because if I do, they'll know someone in the department told me and they'll instantly narrow it down to my friend who I had worked beside for years when we were grad students. I don't want to get him in trouble so right now all I can do is stew and look elsewhere. Boy am I steamed.
 
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My father passed last Thursday, and was buried Saturday.

It was a good funeral, the priest knew him, he had the Knights of Columbus honor guard, VFW 21 gun salute, and the Air Force presented my mother with a flag.

He has 5 adult grand daughters, who all have serious boyfriends and one is married. One of the boyfriends left a suit at dad's house last month. While driving back from spring break his girlfriend called her mother at our house and asked about the suit. So I blurted out, "Was that the one we sent to the funeral home?"

Then her mother went into a long joke about the suit being my dad's size and black, and by now they would have cut it up the back to put it on him. He says, "That was an $800 suit..."
 
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@PatrThom : I'm having trouble deciding what Thing you think Dave is doing. Is it wrongly identifying what's funny? But I think it's funny too. Is it being inappropriate and joking about stuff in the wrong place at the wrong time? That's more or less my thing more than Dave's.
 
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@PatrThom : I'm having trouble deciding what Thing you think Dave is doing. Is it wrongly identifying what's funny? But I think it's funny too. Is it being inappropriate and joking about stuff in the wrong place at the wrong time? That's more or less my thing more than Dave's.
The Thing thing I was calling out was not the “classic” Thing definition (the one that inspired Gas to create the rating in the first place), where it calls out how the speaker is focusing on something ancillary to a previous speaker’s primary intent. I was using it with the colloquial secondary meaning it has acquired over time, which is like saying “That’s so Xxx,” where Xxx is the name of the person being Thing’d. So in this case, it was the equivalent of me saying, “That was a really Dave thing to say, @Dave .”

—Patrick
 
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