Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Snarky Book Reviews

Daughter of the Blood (Bishop): starts off with a bang!  Ritual rape and first-page violence.  A record for how few pages I read (three) before giving up. NOPE.

Truthwitch: Heroine couldn't decide if she was intelligent or impulsive.  Also mandatory falling in love with hero figure. Bored, DNF.

Mairelon the Magician/ The Magician's Ward (Wrede): A little dude-heavy on the first one, but the second is fantastic and has a saucy mother.  I'd forgotten how much I liked them! (Reread.)  How to do 'set in Victorian England' and still have ladies do stuff.  A favorite line: "Lady Wendall has always had a reputation for... originality, even before the curried snails in aspic."

Disenchanted & co: Great premise, mediocre execution.  Heroine is inconsistent until the last few chapters.  Also there is random porn inserted (hah) here and there and a literal deus ex machina, which I always find irritating.

Grand Sophy (Heyer): My favorite Heyer of all, probably because Sophy doesn't give a fuck for social conventions.  The 'crush you in my arms' ending could, as  always, go.

Library at Mount Char: Well written but too violent and disturbing for me.  First 40 pages feature violence, reanimation, violent abuse, maggots, and two messy, violent, graphic deaths.  DNF.

Secrets of Drearcliffe Grange School: Very strange and a bit self-consciously precious, but enjoyably strange.  Recommend.

Wireless (Stross): Tried to re-read while feverish.  Do not do this; you will have nightmares of tentacled horrors abducting you to  strange alien planets.  With termites.  (Great book otherwise but above-average disturbing.)

Frostfire (Viehl): Terribly boring.  DNF.


What have you been reading?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bad Bad Timing

Tomorrow is the last day I'm supposed to teach.

Today Bug, my mother, Dr. S and I have all come down with plague, fever and vomiting.

Everything is terrible.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Changes

(Wittering about my job, or lack thereof.)

Two falls ago, the Other University here had a sudden need for someone to teach four lab sections, for boring reasons (which I know, but will not bore you with).  Starting in four weeks.  Despite knowing I could only teach for one semester and then I was having a baby, I took the job.*

The second semester, they hired an ABD grad student** to take over.

One fall ago, the department chair*** gave all but one section back to Mr. ABD, after pulling some dodgy underhanded shenanigans  Mr. ABD doesn't have a PhD from his third-rate grad program.****  I not only do have a PhD, from a fancy school literally everyone in this country has heard of, but I am stuck here in town indefinitely.  But fine. I told myself it was totally understandable and okay and that I wasn't annoyed.

This spring, the department chair gave all but one section to Mr. ABD again.  I told him^ I wanted more; he didn't feel like it, for whatever reason (I annoyed him by being pregnant^^; Mr. ABD had to 'support his family'; whatever).  I told myself again that the sections were his to dispose of, whatever, etc., and started applying for other jobs.

Two weeks ago, the department chair announced his departure for greener pastures and I realized, you know what?  I was really fucking annoyed.  I'm better qualified, I have more experience, and I'm stuck here.  So yeah!  PoPiss me off!   EXCELLENT PLAN!  Because it's so easy to find part-time biochem PhDs floating around here.^^^

(The department now needs to find a visiting instructor in Uncommon Specialty- it is April! - AND they will have at least five sections of various things, each semester, left over.  Mr. ABD studied Uncommon Specialty!  They should hire him, give me back my !@#% sections, and we'd all be happy.  Also, he should fucking finish.)

(I have no idea what is actually going to happen.)

* Adjuncting = a one semester contract = I don't owe you anything.
** With MAJOR issues with his grad program, and who, a full year later, has still not received a PhD.
*** Who is a jerk.
**** Think... New Mexico State. For chemistry.  That's right! You've never heard of their chemistry program! 
^ Of course it's a dude.
^^ IT'S NOT LIKE IT WAS ON PURPOSE ANYWAYS.
^^^ I am literally the only one at loose ends for 20 miles in any direction.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Consciousness Raised; Literary Experience Ruined

Lately, and I do NOT know what is wrong with me, I can't turn off the snarky Inner Feminist Critic when I'm reading.  For one, I've been reading hardly anything written by men.  Books full of dudes doing dude things... don't we have enough real life full of that?

But even when the novels are written by women.... I don't get why the dudes are front and center so much of the time.  As I lamented recently to Dr. S: if there are talking dragons, why are there no women doing things?  If the whole story is about a mythical elf/goblin empire*, why are none of the people in power female?

Why do we keep re-inventing a bigoted, misogynistic history?  Is it that hard to examine social structure in enough detail to subvert it?  Can there at least be female characters who DO things?  (I'm sure it never occurs to some authors, but I don't understand HOW.) Great example: Seanan McGuire.  Without ever being preachy or narratively intruding about it... there are women! There are queer people and people of color!  It's all part of the story and there are still male protagonists!

Related: definitely taking book recommendations that won't make me grit my teeth every ten pages.


*Thank you, Bunny; I did really enjoy it aside from the lack of female characters.  And the future bride is pretty kickass.  I only wish she HAD kicked someone's ass.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FMB: Lonely for rational people

I'm not talking about rationalists, who can be real asses, but a basic level of reason-based interaction with the world.

Epsom salts are NOT absorbed through the skin.  Think about it for a minute!  When you sweat does it get absorbed back in?  If you sit in the tub does your body absorb water into the bloodstream?  Of course not.

GMOs are not inherently bad or dangerous.  Natural is not inherently good.  Extracts that kill things in cell culture are not automatically good cancer treatments.  Essential oils don't do anything except smell nice.

The water is tested yearly and they send us the report.  Three cases of cancer on one street are not a cluster, and probably not due to arsenic.  Almost nothing has a 100% penetrance on cancer causing.* In fact, almost nothing has 100% penetrance on anything, aside from some nasty genetic diseases.

Basic logic is a thing.  Proof by counterexample.  Reasoning from principles.  The difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Whyyyy are people so bad at basic logic?

(This post is brought to you by a record number of people I wanted to shake this week.)

* High dose radiation but less than the lethal dose, possibly.   Maybe drinking some really bad chemicals.  Asbestos? 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Reasonable Motivations

Dr. S- "We thought Job Candidate was just jerking us around because they were trying to get a better job elsewhere and they didn't really want to teach here.  But it turns out they just wanted more money."

Me: "Well that's MUCH better."

Monday, April 04, 2016

Why I Hate Cooking Dinner (Recipe: Really Good Moroccan Chicken)

Put  the children down for nap/quiet time/mama needs a break.

Realize that your meal plan says chicken and the chicken is frozen solid.  Dump chicken in pot of hot water for an hour. Then brown  chicken in 1 T  oops, glug glug, 1/4 c of olive oil.

Peel some mangy sweet potatoes you found in a drawer.  Look at them, then peel another. Chop into giant inch thick slices because you are in a hurry.

Realize that you have zero onions.  Gnash teeth.  The baby wakes up and starts crying.  Throw a cup or two of broth into the chicken pot along with two cinnamon sticks, some cardamom pods because who has time to grind them, and pepper.  Squash a couple tablespoons of coriander seeds and some fenugreek in a mortar, and throw it on top of the chicken along with a few tablespoons of mediocre pre-diced garlic because who has time to dice garlic. Leave simmering (covered) on low on the stove.  Hope the house doesn't burn down.

Toss your two screaming children in a minivan; pick up a third child (surly) and a carpool child (also surly).  Deposit carpool child, then take your three arguing, whining children to the grocery at 3:30 PM on a Friday.  Regret everything.  While you are there, remember that you have 24 hours to produce baked beans for 100.  Buy some chocolate.

Go home an hour later and frantically dice up an onion or two.  Saute until browned and slightly burnt; try not to set off the fire alarm or take off a finger. Feed the baby half the raisins you'd intended to use as she pounds on a stool and shouts 'Moah!' Take the chicken out of the pot, getting garlic bits everywhere.  Swear.   Throw in the onions, sweet potato, raisins, olives, chopped apricots, some more garlic probably, two drained cans of garbanzo, an inch of ginger root peeled and finely diced, and whatever else you feel like.  Stir; stick the chicken back on top and bake in a covered dish in a 325 F oven until the sweet potatoes are tender. Take out and cut up and debone chicken. (Put chicken back in.)

Serve to the accompaniment of whining children who will refuse to eat it even though they like every single ingredient.  Vow to never cook them dinner ever again.  Pour a glass of wine and count the minutes to bedtime.  Lather, rinse and repeat.

Ingredients:

1 chicken preferably brined
An onion
Garlic
Some olives (8 oz - mine were the $1.79 marinated pack from TJ's)
Golden raisins (4 oz)
Apricots (whatever size they come in- 8 oz?)
Sweet potatoes (5 medium)
Chicken broth
2 cans garbanzo beans
Coriander, cinnamon sticks, fenugreek, green and black cardamom
Ginger root
Dash of despair and salt tears