Monday, January 09, 2017

The Wages of Disorganization are Woe

After a couple of frustrating weeks, I've finally convinced university IT to give me access to the drive where all the documents are stored for the class I'm teaching in (checks watch) eight days. 

There are over three hundred documents and not ONE of them is an accurate schedule.  There are activities and presentations and lab files - most of which I'm supposed to post for the students - but nowhere does it say what the hell I'm supposed to do on which day.  Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but this is a course with eight sections where everyone takes the same test.

The course coordinator is out of town for the next seven days.

WHYYYYY.  I have regrets already and I didn't even start.  I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing other than show up the first day and start talking.  I don't know if I'm supposed to print stuff out, who preps the labs... pretty much anything. 

This is going to be epically something.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Hello, I Am Still Alive; Also, More Short Book Reviews

Still figuring out all the things.  Health!  Work!  Children!  What am I even doing with my life!  A lengthy and bitter small-town dispute with a large company!  Arguing with Mountain U's IT department!  Trying to get the material for the class I'm teaching in two weeks! The woe of local elections!  Fraud on my bank account!  Etc.  It is boring.

I am looking for more reading material, preferably by women, for the new year.  So, if you have something, please leave me a comment!



Recent reads:

English Country House Murders: If this is your thing, truly excellent.  A fantastic selection of non-violent murder mysteries by an assortment of authors; inspired me to look some of them up.

Unquiet Land (Sharon Shinn): Fourth in a series.  Okay.  The first one had interesting drama; this one is more of the people wandering around and talking variety. Villians are always foreign, but a nice diversity of national origins in the books themselves.  Female protagonist.  Recommend as a library book.

Dragons series (Patricia Wrede, re-read): Excellent as always, though my favorite is the first.  Most protagonists are female and they are all independent and funny.  Now I want to read Sorcery & Cecilia again.

All of Agatha Christie that my library has, re-read: Wow.  Stranger than I remembered, especially the spy-flavored ones (a... secret compound in the desert run by a strange millionare? sure...) and, of course, racist and anti-Semitic in the most casual of ways, but enjoyable for their soothing (although all-white) predictability.

The Siren (Tiffany Reisz): Y'all, this book was Not My Thing.  So meta! (A writer who writes about S&M/erotica has written a book about writer who is into S&M/bondage and who lives with a young man and who is writing a book about a writer who is into S&M/bondage and lives with a young man.)  So full of angst about people who are into S&M!  So pleased with itself for being edgy! Nope.

The Gourmet cookie book : inspired me to make several kinds of interesting cookies, and modify a recipe for benne wafers to use tahini instead. Library book, worth borrowing if you like cookies.

All of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books, re-read: I still really love these, even if the author is a dude.  There are plenty of women who are not background, and it's (IMO) a well-done urban fantasy.  Faintly reminiscent of Charlie Stross (one of the few other men I'll still read) but less disturbing and apocalyptic.  Main character is a British-Nigerian male police officer who's a wizard.  Recommend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Short Jeremiad on Integrity

At the end of each term, Mountain U has a fancy(-ish) dinner: lox and tenderloin and seventeen sides and eighteen desserts.  Dr. S and I took the children 'out' to the college cafeteria that night (for a grand total of $24, by the way).  While walking up, we ran into a visiting faculty member and his daughter.  I asked if his spouse was meeting him there and he said no, he was planning to buy one dinner for himself and take her a box dinner home.  (Without paying.)

I was speechless.  They go to Mass every week, and profess to be Catholics, of the rabid anti-choice variety.  Doesn't Catholicism have some things to say about personal integrity and sinning in secret and the moral damage it does you?  Of course it's tempting to take a shortcut, but personally, my religion is not compatible with stealing.

A few weeks ago, after picking Tatoe up from preschool, I backed into another car in the parking lot, leaving a small dent and a scrape.  You can bet your bottom dollar that, as I looked in the rearview mirror, I was thinking "Maybe I can drive away and nobody will ever know."  But I didn't, I left a note, because I thought it was the right thing to do.  (I'm not looking for praise; believe you me, my desire to do evil was in full force.) You can call it religion, or supporting a social contract, or whatever you please, but doing the same thing whether anyone's looking is integrity.



Sunday, December 11, 2016

More V. Brief Updates


  • My classes are over and a good thing because I was starting to lose patience with READ THE FUCKING DIRECTIONS. Break! Reset! Redo in six weeks! 
  • Bio next semester promises to be.... at least different.
  • Lab has two sections worth of wait list for three sections of class and my students are a little freaked out and.... sorry, kids, I can't fix it! 
  • I got my second Very Expensive Shot last week and (whispers) it maaaaybe have helped my ear? Maybe! 
  • The hearing damage is probably permanent though. 
  • Hurrah.
  • I have a million things to do despite my largely unemployed state.  How does this even happen?
  • Sweetpea will be TWO very soon.  
  • I will have less boring things to say one day. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Brief Update, And Mostly Useless Recipe

Ear status: better than it was, but not great.  I don't want to die any more!  But I could really go for some nice narcotics.  (Yes, I have other drugs; no, nothing is as good as narcotics.  Except maybe FIXING MY !@#$ EAR.)

Recipe: Because I live in the middle of nowhere, we are amply supplied with nature, mountains, fresh eggs, livestock, and local vegetables.  We are not amply supplied with stores.  It is not possible to buy fake-butter for baking without driving for hours. Hence: my version, made from what I can get locally or order from the internet (ALL HAIL).

Fake Butter-Flavored Earth Balance Baking Sticks Shortening (non-hydrogenated, vegan)

110 g cold water
2 T pea protein 
2 T soy lecithin

2-3 t salt

500 g unrefined coconut oil (such as Lou-Ana, Kroger brand, or whatever is handy - the kind that melts at 72 F, not 90 F)
350 g palm shortening
150 g canola oil
Optional: 1/2 dram Lor-ann artifical butter flavor or the flavoring of your choice


Mix the water with the protein and lecithin and let sit at least an hour until the lecithin is fully dissolved. Add the salt.

Melt the solid oils in the microwave or on the stove until they are at least 90% liquid.  Mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer until fully blended.  Add butter flavor if desired (it contains no dairy). While beating, pour in the water mixture slowly.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  This shortening is soft at room temperature, mostly solid in the refrigerator, and melts a lot like butter.  Good for cookies, where pure coconut oil gives structural failure and pure palm oil gives a strange waxy taste.

Notes:
Any neutral-flavored liquid oil can sub for canola. I don't recommend olive oil; it gives a very strong flavor.
You could probably use soy or rice protein.  I haven't tried either.
Many co-op/organic type stores will sell soy lecithin by the ounce if you don't want a whole pound.  You can put the extra in bread dough a tablespoon or two at a time.  Sunflower or egg lecithin would also work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WOMP WOMP WOMP

You know what sends one's ear-related nerves and muscles back into a spiral of pain and WOE?  A fucking ear infection.  An antibiotic-resistant ear infection.

But on the BRIGHT side I have now reached my out of pocket maximum until June 30th.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Yes, Well, Plus State of Self

Here. And a sincere FUCK YOU VERY MUCH to all (edit: that is, the subset of) the white dudes and straight white Christian ladies who are convinced everything will be fine through the next four years.  People of color, religious minorities, immigrants, queer people... even some straight white Christian friends in town with black children?  We're all terrified. (Along with anyone who has sense.)

Now that we've gotten that over with.

I am in... less pain!  I have not achieved No Pain since June.  However, I have a lot of drugs now and a very expensive round of physical therapy.  It's getting better.  I feel like one day I might be Mostly Better.  Huzzah.

Today I did my first round of Terrifying Antibody Thing.  It was enlivened by a brief round of intense itching.  Friends, itching is not good when you have been injected with antibodies. However, it mostly went away.  My kind neighbor watched Sweetpea for two and a half hours while I sat about knitting, trying to not go into anaphylactic shock. Good times for all.

Next semester I have been roped into teaching something I don't really want to teach.  For Reasons.  (If I say no now, it's no forever; it pays fairly well for fairly little effort; it's actually the Science Thing I know and like the best; there is the possibility for more interesting work in the future; I know and like the person who offered me the job and therefore I have a reasonable expectation it will be okay.)  I'm a bit afraid I'm going to end up teaching forever because I'm lazy.  Yes, yes, I know: I don't have to do it if I don't want to.  But if the choices are This, Nothing, or Move, then This wins.  Is this better than nothing?  Sure, fine. 

My assortment of part-time babysitters is working out pretty well.  The kids love them, Sweetpea runs up and demands "Lap! Read book!", and everyone is in one piece when I get home.

I continue to apply for Other Jobs. (They never write, they never call.) 

I am taking an (online) class in databases from Mountain State University - it's surprisingly good, taught by someone with a deep and abiding love of the database- and predictably, writing code is the only part of it I'm actually good at.

Between my students and the election, I have a terrible headache, so I'm taking to my bed and trying again tomorrow....