It’s December in Calgary and I just went running in shorts and a tank top.

It’s like 50 degrees out there.


I’ve actually kind of enjoyed running in the 30-40 degree range; I don’t get nearly as hot (running is like the only time I produce actual body heat) and so I feel like I can run longer and easier, at least most of the time. When it’s in the 20s it’s a little rougher because my legs start off being really cold and thus feel really heavy and slow, but I can still do it.

I haven’t run in anything below 19 degrees yet, but I’m sure I will at some point.

But yeah, it is unseasonably warm here and it’s weirding me out. It legit feels like September.

Book Review: King Lear (Shakespeare)

Have I read this before: Nope

Review: So this is the first time since high school that I’ve read something of Shakespeare’s that I’d never read before. That is, all the other Shakespeare that I’ve read on my list is stuff that I’ve read at least once before (in high school). I also knew nothing about the play before reading it, so this was kind of my test to see if I could figure out what exactly was going on without having read it before and/or having some sort of idea of what the play was about. Does that make me sound stupid? Probably. But (and I’ve mentioned this in a previous review I think) I think plays – especially Shakespearean plays – lose a lot in translation if they’re just read without acting them out or at least having different people “play” different roles. Is that just me? Like, when I read Julius Caesar a few weeks ago, I understood what was going on, I understood the dialogue and the actions, but it wasn’t super engaging, especially in comparison to when we read it aloud in high school and we had different people reading different parts. I had the same issue with Lear, but I was able to get the gist of it. It definitely wasn’t my favorite Shakespeare…but again, the reason for that might be because I just read it and didn’t get to see it acted or read by multiple people as different parts. Stupid, I know.

Rating: 4/10

Are you there, god? It’s-a me, Mario

So ever since I searched for “Mahler Hammer” for a blog in, like, July (this one), I get Mahler-related recommendations on YouTube every once and a while. And every once and a while, I watch them.

Today I watched this one:

Okay, two things:

1. What a freaking beautiful performance of a beautiful piece of music

2. I absolutely love musicians and conductors who get the hell into it. This conductor (Christian Vasquez) is so enthusiastic and so into it and it just makes it all so much better slfjslfghalfhakghdakfh

I don’t know. It just makes me so happy to see people feel music. It makes me feel the music even more.

ALSO, 2:59 is Frisson Central, holy hell.

Alright, I’m done.

G’Bye, Fall 2020!

So this nightmare of a semester is finally over.


Teaching online is…not enjoyable. I miss actually getting to see and interact with my students. I feel so disconnected from them and I feel like I’ve been absolute crap at my job this semester, even though I’m really trying to do the best I can given the garbage circumstances.

It’s so demotivating, and now is not the time to become demotivated. It’s also SUPER FREAKING FRUSTRATING that the first “real” (non-spring/summer) semester of my tenure-track position has been marred by online nonsense, and it’s even more SUPER FREAKING FRUSTRATING that my first actual course coordinating assignment (next semester’s STAT 213) will be during an online semester rather than a “normal” one. I feel like no matter what I do, I won’t get to show my true ability to coordinate effectively, especially since everyone is new to online teaching and there are so many things that can go wrong.

But the main thing? I miss my students. I miss actually teaching them in person and feeling like I’m making a difference in their learning. I’m definitely not getting that vibe this semester and it’s destroying my soul.


So very demotivating.

And just for clarification, I’m not blaming the U of C for any of this. They (at least the Math/Stats Department) did the smart thing by making all the courses online this semester and next, especially with how Alberta’s crashing and burning COVID-wise right now. It just…sucks.

Ignore my nonsense

Aren’t those days fun where you just spend your whole time thinking about how mediocre of a human being you are and that you’ll never be the best at anything so why even try and why even give a shit about anything and why even live at all when the world would be better off without you consuming its resources?

Aren’t those days FUN?

I hate myself.

Hey Alberta: Get it together, man

So remember a few months ago when Alberta was still doing quite well pandemic-wise? New daily cases were in the 100-200 range, hospitals weren’t overwhelmed, and people were generally still following the “don’t be a moron” way of life as far as dealing with COVID?

Yeah, no, that’s not happening anymore.

New daily cases jumped into the 300s; nothing was done. New daily cases jumped into the 500s; nothing was done. Now they’re regularly above 1,000, closer to 2,000 (in fact, Alberta holds the daily new case record for Canada). And guess what? Very little is being done.

We are the only province without a province-wide mask mandate.

Only recently have those in charge shifted from “educate people about COVID safety” to “enforce the rules with fines” – something I thinks should have happened from the start of all this.

People are gathering in big groups indoors and out.
There are anti-mask rallies being held in Calgary.
Space in hospitals is running out rapidly.

It’s quite frightening.

Is it a coincidence that the most conservative province is having the biggest issue with COVID right now? No, I don’t think so. Kenney is more concerned about “tHe EcOnOmY hUrTiNg” than saving peoples’ lives. Guess what? It’s not people going into grocery stores/small businesses/etc. that’s causing the main source of spread. It’s morons gathering indoors without masks. Surely that can be better monitored without damaging the economy.

It’s so damn frustrating. Those of us who are being cautious and following the rules are continuously getting screwed over by the idiots. Not to mention, I don’t know, all the people dying or having long-term effects from the virus.

Is this what it feels like in the States?

NaNoWriMo 2020 Complete!


Here’s our good old word cloud.

Now to do something I’ve never done after NaNoWriMo: keep writing!*

In the past, I’ve always said to myself, “okay, so December is your break; once the new year rolls around, you will continue writing on your NaNo project until it’s done.”

That’s never happened, because once December has gone by, I’ve lost my little “groove” that I get into in November.


This year, I’m going to try to do 500 words a day starting…NOW!

I think 500 is a perfectly manageable amount but is also enough to start seeing some actual progress on the story, ‘cause it’s definitely not finished.

It’s a stupid story, yes, but the idea won’t leave me alone (which is why I chose to “redo” it this year), so let’s just roll with that. Yay?

*Okay, I guess I re-worked Prime a few times, but that was…like…five years after writing it? And it’s still not done? And it’s the dumbest story ever so screw it?

Bought Bits

So the year’s not quite over yet and I’m sure I’ll be making one or two more nonsense purchases before the end of next month because pandemic panic shopping is a thing and I hate that I’m that type of person though I’m trying to be better, BUT I think I can safely list my top three purchases of the year. They are as follows:

1. The treadmill
Definitely the most expensive thing I’ve bought in a while (apart from the new rocking chair), but totally worth it. It already made my life better on those days during the summer where I would have been walking in torrential downpours or on those days in the past few months where it’s been -15 with snow. I can still get my walk without having to dread horrible weather. This will also make me less dependent on Anytime Fitness once it opens back up, though I still might have to go there for early morning treadmilling if I ever need to do so. I suspect treadmilling at 4 AM would be too loud for my husband and the downstairs neighbors.

2. The Kindle
OH MY GOD this thing has made those 4-hour indoor treadmill walks so much more bearable. And it’s gotten me back into reading, which is fantastic. I’ve read around 17 books since I’ve gotten it, which is more than I’ve read in like the past five years (tragic). Also, like I mentioned in a previous blog, there are Kindle versions of a good amount of books on my list that I haven’t been able to find in libraries. So that’s a plus, too!

3. The Wacom tablet
This is definitely a work purchase rather than a personal purchase, but it has made online lecturing so much easier than it would have been if I had to do everything on my laptop. Yes, my laptop can fold over and act like a tablet to write on, but recording my 50-minute lectures for the winter semester made the laptop really hot; I can’t imagine how bad it would have gotten for the 2-hour lectures (back to back, so I guess four hours total) in the summer. Plus, it’s super smooth and snazzy and I could use him for digital art if I ever got into that sort of thing.



So I just ordered a physical copy of I, Claudius because I can’t get that damn book out of my head. And yes, even though I already have a Kindle version of it, I got a physical copy too. I did the same with A Prayer for Owen Meany a bit earlier in the year.

I have a thing when it comes to owning physical copies of books, especially fiction. Over the years, I’ve pared down my books (again, especially fiction) to only include those books that I really, really like. It seems like a lot of people I know just have a lot of books, but I’m pretty selective about what books I actually choose to own. I don’t know why. It might be because I’ll only re-read a book if I’ve really, really enjoyed it, and so I don’t feel the need to own books that I’d never read more than once.

Like…I have The Caine Mutiny, The Great Gatsby, a collection of Jules Verne’s stories, Lolita…all those books that I would willingly read again. And that’s it for fiction. For non-fiction I’m a bit more lenient, but I’m still rather particular about it.

I don’t know. Is anyone else like this?

Do re mi fa so OH GOD NO

Y’ALL I keep forgetting to introduce you to my new succulent buddy, Captain Planet.

His name was originally Captain Spiny, but in one of my many COVID dreams, I’d named him Captain Planet and I had the actual Captain Planet bust through the ceiling of the condo and tell me that his name was copyrighted and how DARE I name a plant after him ANYWAY, ‘cause WHAT DO PLANTS HAVE TO DO WITH THE PLANET SLDFJSAFDKFJFJFJFJFJF

So I decided to change his name in real life.

But yeah, he’s my new buddy. I got him from Safeway because he looked super sad and lonely in his little planter. He needed love.

Have a music blog, ‘cause it’s been a while.

(Has it? I actually haven’t checked.)

Here are a few badass songs that I’ve found in the past little while. Enjoy!

Amazing Grace by Pentatonix:

I was worried they’d make it too pop-ish, but they do an amazing job with it. I really like this cover.

Here is Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:

The orchestra gives this song so much more depth, oh my god I love it.

Sheppard’s Animals:

Love the energy.

Teddy Geiger’s Sharkbait:

The bassline in this song is killer.


I miss my mom.

I miss Moscow.

I miss my office.

I miss campus.

I miss teaching in person.

I miss Market Mall.

I miss Anytime Fitness (even though I went there like five times a year, haha)

I miss public transit.

I miss long weekend walks with my husband.

I miss Westbrook Mall and the walk up there.

I miss disliking crowds of people because people annoy me rather than because I’m afraid they’ll infect me.

I miss the comfort of knowing I could travel to and from the US without any huge issues.

I miss pre-COVID normality.

I’m sure everyone else is feeling similar sentiments, but it’s US Thanksgiving today and I’m bitter about the fact that I won’t get to see my mom in a month like I normally do each year so you get to hear my whining.

Sorry not sorry.

I’m sorry WHAT

I’m assuming the reason that this article is so hilarious is because it’s 4 AM and sleep is for LOSERS, but I could be wrong.

But anyway, apparently a city in Sweden has this Christmas tradition where they construct this giant straw goat (or, since 1986, two goats). They also have a tradition where the goats get destroyed somehow (usually by arson).

“The display has become notable for being a recurring target for vandalism by arson, and has been destroyed many times since the first goat was erected in 1966. Because the fire station is close to the location of the goat, most of the time the fire can be extinguished before the wooden skeleton is severely damaged. If the goat is burned down before 13 December, the feast day of Saint Lucia, the goat is rebuilt. The skeleton is then treated and repaired, and the goat reconstructed over it, using straw which the Goat Committee has pre-ordered.”

“Goat Committee” is a phrase I didn’t know I needed to have in my life until today.

Anyway, the Wiki article has a table listing, for every year, security measures implemented to protect the goat(s), when the goat(s) was (were) destroyed, and how it (they) were destroyed. And there’s a lot more destroyed goats than ones that survived.

And some of these entries read like plot points around which a novel could be written.


Did the goats survive in the year you were born?

WOAH it’s another survey. Shocked?

1. How has covid affected you?
Well, I haven’t gotten it and no one I’m super close to has gotten it either, so that’s good. But I haven’t been able to see my mom because the damn border’s been closed since March, my job is now online which I absolutely hate, my husband and I haven’t gotten to do any of our long summer walks because we’ve been terrified of public places/public transit, my own walks have been limited due to the same reasons, and I really miss going to malls. Not even shopping…just going in them. But on the positive side, I did really get into running this summer, which I probably wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity to do (at least to the same extent) if things were “normal.”

2. What is a comfort show of yours?
I’ve re-watched Riverdale a few times, not gonna lie. Horrible teen dramas are my jam.

3. Are you open about your past or do you not let anyone in?
My past is on this blog. My past is this blog. So if anyone cares enough to discover my past, it’s out there for ya.

4. Favourite fast food joint?
Of the chain restaurants, it’s McDonald’s. No shame. Their fries are the best. Of “local” restaurants, Cougar Country. Or Mongolian BBQ, if that counts as fast food.

5. Do you think we were put on this earth for a reason?
Nope. Unless you count fulfilling our part in a deterministic universe. But I don’t.

6. What is something you have done this year you’re proud of?
Gotten back into running.

7. Do u ever feel like surveys are usually the same questions?
Haha, yeah.

8. What were you doing 10 years ago?
Ten years ago today was November 24, 2010. I was in my second year of grad school at UBC and hating it. I was also a few months into my new walking habit, though, so that was good.

9. Do you call out Karens when they’re harassing a cashier?
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been witness to someone being abusive to a cashier. But if I saw it, it’d like to think I’d say something, especially in today’s “put a mask on, you selfish asshole” world.

10. Animal crossing, yay or nay?
Never played it.

11. Why do you like to do surveys?
They’re fun.

12. Did you ever have a MySpace ?
Hahaha. That’s how this blog got started, yes.

13. Do you think breaks are toxic in a relationship?
Depends on the people. Depends on the relationship.

14. Do you have a YouTube channel? If no, would you create one? If yes what’s your content?
I have two YouTube channels. One is for teaching-related stuff, like supplementary lecture content or (more recently) recorded lectures. The other is my “personal” YouTube channel. It’s mostly stupid short videos that only I would care about, but I do have a Vine compilation vid on there that’s gotten like 15,000 views.

15. Are you a math person?
Not naturally, no. But that’s why I teach it – because I understand what it’s like to not be a math person, I understand the anxiety that causes, and I like to think I teach in a way that makes math understandable for people who get math anxiety.

16. What’s the worst thing someone has said to you?
Let’s not go there today.

17. Have you ever befriended someone because you felt bad?
In fourth (?) grade, a new kid came to our elementary school. Our class had like 23 people so we were all pretty set in our friendships, and this new kid was a little awkward. I remember one day he dropped a whole bunch of books and papers and no one went to help him, so I did. We didn’t really become friends (and eventually he got assimilated and people started hanging with him), but that kind of counts, right?

18. Would you ever date someone online?
I kind of dated Nate through OK Cupid before we met in person, so…yes?

19. Have you been ghosted before? Would you ghost someone?
Yes. No.

20. When do you think things will be normal again?
I think there will be a “relative” normal in the next few years, but if we ever do go back to pre-pandemic normal, I don’t think that will happen for quite some time.

21. Do you watch anime?

22. Biggest goal you wanna reach before 2020 is over?
Not get COVID?

23. How old did/do you turn this year?

24. Do you like tiktok?
Eh. It’s no Vine.

25. Do you ever miss vine?
I do! Vines were great.

26. How are you doing, seriously?
Absolutely terribly, thanks for asking.

27. Is there someone you want to talk to but you know you can’t?

28. Do you make jokes to cope with your problems?
My life is a joke.

29. Have you ever had someone call you their best friend but you didn’t even consider them a close friend?
I don’t think so.

30. Have you ever dealt with a pathological liar?

31. Long or short surveys?

32. If ur in school, are you doing it on zoom or in class?
I’m teaching, does that count? All the math/stats department classes are being done remotely this semester.

33. Would you ever have a pet rat?
Meh. Give me cats or give me death.

34. Favourite memory with your best friend?
Playing Rock Band for hours when we lived together. So much fun.

35. Favourite type of content to watch on YouTube?
Depends on what I’m doing. If I’m drawing, I like to watch longer videos, like documentaries or Achievement Hunter stuff. If I’m grading or writing up notes, I like to watch makeup reviews. I also like to just browse through and watch random music videos.

36. Are you allergic to anything serious?

37. Dream job?
The one I’ve got now (with the addition of tenure).

38. Do you think dreams mean anything?
On a certain level, yes.

39. Fav clothing brand?
Whatever the hell fits. Most of my clothes come from Walmart, though, so whatever the Walmart brand is up here. George and g21.

40. Do you miss anyone?
I miss my mom. I hate that it will be at least half a year (probably longer) before I’ll be able to see her again.



Alabama: Do you like the movie Forrest Gump?
I do. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, though.

Alaska: Would you rather deal with 30 days of day or 30 days of night?
30 days of day. Get that darkness nonsense out of here, I’ll sleep when I’m DEAD
(I could actually sleep in any degree of sunlight, though, so that wouldn’t be an issue.)

Arizona: Can you handle heat well?
Not particularly, but I think I do better with it than with cold. At least it rarely gets super hot up here in Calgary.

Arkansas: What are your opinions on Bill Clinton?
Personal/relationship issues, but a good president overall.

California: Who is your favorite actor? Favorite actress?
My current favorite actor is Adam Arkin, because I’m still coming down off the high that was the short-lived run of Chicago Hope on YesTV up here and I absolutely love him in that. I don’t have a favorite actress.

Colorado: Do you smoke weed? What are your opinions on its legalization?
I don’t, and I think medical marijuana should be legalized. Don’t really care about recreational weed.
Also, FUN FACT: when I was a kid, my friends and I thought “smoking weed” meant literally smoking weeds, like the kind you’d find in your yard. So sometimes on the playground we’d go pick some weeds and roll them up and pretend to smoke them to be cool. D.A.R.E. clearly did nothing for us.

Connecticut: Have you ever had a school shooting at your school?
Nope. We were on lockdown once in junior high, but that was right after 9/11 and I think it was just to be super cautious about some sketchy dude wandering around the school parking lot. At U of C they found a bunch of guns stashed behind a ceiling tile, but no shootings or anything ever happened.

Delaware: Are you usually the first to do something, or are you more of a follower?
A bit of both.

Florida: Have you ever been to Disney World?
Nope. Disneyland was a frequent stop of mine when I went to visit my grandma and grandpa in California, though.

Georgia: Would you consider yourself a southern belle?

Hawaii: What would be paradise for you?
Being able to walk (and run) as much as I wanted to every day. Being able to continue to teach stats/math. Cats everywhere.

Idaho: What is your favorite way to eat a potato?
(Of course it’s a potato question)
Either French fries or mashed potatoes.

Illinois: Did you vote for President Obama (or would you have)?
I did. Twice!

Indiana: Do you like corn?
Eh. Corn on the cob is good. Cornbread is good. That’s about it.

Iowa: Are roses your favorite flower?
I don’t have a favorite flower.

Kansas: Do you like the Tin Man, Scarecrow or Cowardly Lion better?
I always liked the Tin Man. I’m like that kid in “A Christmas Story.”

Kentucky: Have you ever been to a horse race?
Nope. No desire to, either.

Louisiana: Have you ever celebrated Mardi Gras?
Not in any serious way, no.

Maine: Do you like lobster?
Crab is infinitely better. Lobster is chewy and weird-tasting.

Maryland: Have you ever been to Washington DC?
Yup! I went when I was in…9th grade? 10th grade? I don’t remember it very well, though, because I got some serious heat stroke while there.

Massachusetts: Are you smart enough to go to Harvard?
No idea. Never applied. Probably not.

Michigan: Have you ever swam in a lake?
Yup. Lake Coeur d’Alene. So…probably shouldn’t have done that. Heavy Metal City.

Minnesota: Have you seen Drop Dead Gorgeous?

Mississippi: Do you follow college football?
Only the Vandals, and only loosely.

Missouri: Have you ever convinced someone to show you their private parts?
Probably. I WAS in marching band.

Montana: What is the greatest treasure you have ever found?
I found a $50 bill by a bus stop once?

Nebraska: Do you eat beef?
(Is Nebraska known for its beef?)
(Did the survey maker get to Nebraska and go “oh shit, we already used the corn question, what the hell else is in Nebraska? Cows? Probably cows.)
I don’t eat much meat in general, but beef is good.

Nevada: Are you good at card games?
Not particularly.

New Hampshire: What are your views on gay marriage?
Who freaking CARES, let a person get married to the person they love!

New Jersey: Do you watch The Jersey Shore?

New Mexico: Would you consider yourself a hippie?
Not really.

New York: Have you ever been to New York City? Would you like to?
I’ve never been there. I’d like to go, but I’d also be absolutely terrified there, I think.

North Carolina: Are the Panthers your favorite football team?
Of the…three NFL teams I can name without Googling “NFL teams” or asking Nate or asking my mom, the Panthers are not one of them. So…no.

North Dakota: Have you seen Fargo?

Ohio: Did you watch The Drew Carey Show?
I watched it occasionally with my dad when it was on. Cleveland rocks!

Oklahoma: What is your favorite musical?
The Music Man. That counts, right?

Oregon: Did you ever play the Oregon Trail game?
Hahaha, yes indeed. My sole mission every time I played was to acquire as much bacon as possible.

Pennsylvania: Do you watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia?

Rhode Island: Who is the smallest person you know?
My friend Jade from high school. Or Nicole from elementary school.

South Carolina: Do you think Aziz Ansari is funny?
I only vaguely know who that is.

South Dakota: Who is more interesting: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln?
Teddy was pretty badass, but Jefferson seemed to be a very interesting person from the little I know about him.

Tennessee: Who is your favorite country singer?
I don’t listen to enough country music to have a favorite country singer.

Texas: Do you like barbecue or Tex-Mex better?

Utah: Do you know anyone who is Mormon?
Yup! I know a few people who are Mormon, actually.

Vermont: Do you get the full autumnal colors in the fall where you live?


Washington: Do you like grunge?

West Virginia: Do you like the mountains?
West Virginia is not a valid state.

Wisconsin: What’s your favorite kind of cheese?
Colby-Jack. No contest.

Wyoming: Do you love westerns?
Not particularly.

Walkie Talkie

Hey NERDS, so up until this point, I’ve walked 4,585.06 miles. At this same time in 2017 (my record walking year), I’d walked 4,573.77 miles. So that means (unless I royally screw up) I’m on pace to beat 2017’s distance of 5,100 miles.


(I live for this crap, sorry.)


Calgary, u ok?

This is why I can never find my way anywhere. This is why I walk the same five routes all the time. Because the universe is ready to destroy me with this nonsense if I ever stray off the righteous path.

(The “righteous path” being the Bow River Pathway).

Edit: Nate, I know you were waiting for a hilarious blog on this sign. Instead you get mediocrity. It’s just like everything else I do, isn’t it???





Want some funky socks/hosiery/rave clothes? Check out Leg Avenue!

I’ve gotten socks from them before, but never directly from their site (usually through Sock Dreams). But they’ve got a lot of other stuff too.


Rainbow fringe arm warmers

Rainbow net arm warmers

Neon fishnets

Wet look thigh highs

Cropped satin gloves

Book Review: Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)

Have I read this before: Yes! We read it in 8th grade. We actually read it as a play – we volunteered to read certain characters (I was Caesar because of course I was) and we read the whole thing aloud. I loved when we did that with plays. It made them so much more enjoyable. We did it with The Crucible in 9th grade (I was Parris) as well as some other plays that I can’t remember.


Review: Shakespeare is lost on junior high-schoolers, yo. Except for those junior high-schoolers that are really into Shakespeare. I don’t think I appreciated everything that was going on in the play back when I was 14 because of the language, but I definitely got a lot more out of it re-reading it now. I certainly didn’t pick up the extremes of Brutus’ moral dilemma in high school, but that was probably because my character was dead within the Third Act and so I just sat there not getting to read any lines, haha. Junior High Claudia, you were an idiot.

Favorite part: Probably the moral dilemma of Brutus! Because I missed that when I was younger.

Rating: 5/10

How Many Lists Could a Lister List if a Lister Could List Lists?

  • Unpopular opinion/preference: I prefer pants that do not have pockets. Pockets are bulky and they bunch up. Plus I never utilize them.
  • Another unpopular opinion: I freaking love cardio. It seems like a lot of people really dislike it, but I’ve always enjoyed it and definitely prefer it to weight training.
  • I got put on a (very subjective) “Best Professors at the University of Calgary” list.
  • The snark in this is fantastic.
  • This song (and its music video) is a mind trip.
  • Did you guys have a lot of Klutz books when you were kids? I did. My mom always got me Klutz books for Christmas and the like. ANYWAY, this was one of my favorite ones. I’m almost tempted to get another copy and see how much of it is still accurate (it was written in 1994).
  • This is the absolute cutest little thing ever.


Let’s Play “What’s In My Drawer?”

So my “work at home desk” is the dining room table, meaning that I’m on the completely opposite side of our main room. I’m also right next to one of my little drawer towers. The drawers are semi-transparent, meaning I can see all the stuff in them. They’ve been driving me crazy for the past few months because all the stuff in them have been very disorganized, so tonight I decided to take everything out and re-organize it all.

Thus, you get pictures of some of my random crap, ‘cause I’m too antsy and panicky and sad to blog about anything else today.

A space pen! I’ve had this for a long, long time. Like, at least two decades, I think. And it still writes!

My “I voted” sticker from the 2012 election. I wish I’d gotten a sticker for the 2020 election, but I did an electronic download of my ballot due to all the post office nonsense, so I didn’t get a sticker mailed to me.

A bunch of Euros! These are from…I don’t know. I think some of them probably came from my dad, since he sometimes brings me currency from all the coolio places he goes. Maybe they were from when we went to Sweden/Finland/England back in 2003 (?), but I remember using Kroner and pounds instead of Euros…I think…I can’t remember.

The manual thingy that came with my bundle of Half-Life CDs from way back when. Remember PC games that came on CDs instead of Steam?

A card from the tattoo/piercing shop where Aaron and I got our piercings back in 2008. That was a fun little road trip.

I was super into The Guggenheim Grotto back in 2007. I bought a physical copy of this CD because the texture of the CD case was awesome. Look at how pretty that is!

My graduation tassels from my psych degree and my philosophy degree. I didn’t get one for my math degree (2012) because I didn’t go to graduation and didn’t go pick up my graduation crap. I was having a bad end of the semester and was inundated with papers to grade from STAT 251, so yeah. Would’ve been nice to have one, though.


Romans, yo

So I’m super interested in the Julio-Claudian dynasty now.

Thanks, Robert Graves.

I want to read more about it but I also want to keep going with my fiction list and I’ve never been one to be reading more than one book at a time (I don’t know why, I just don’t do that), so I don’t know what to do.
Also, I, Claudius has a sequel (Claudius the God) but it’s not on my “200 Books” list, so ldskghdlfjferfafslffl when am I going to read it?

Life is hard.

Edit: apparently there’s a BBC television adaptation of the two books?? I neeeeeed!

It’s tiiiiiiiiiiime

Time for the annual NaNoWriMo excerpt!

Yeah, I know. I’m not excited, either.

Like I said, I hate this freaking story but it won’t get out of my head, so I’m writing it. Again. Sorta.

So to spare everyone too much pain from scrolling past a long rambling excerpt, I’ll just give you a short one. And a short one that only needs a (relatively) short preamble so that you know what the hell’s going on.

(As if you care.)

So this story takes place in a world where (some) people have the ability to see ghosts, and a portion of those people work for the Bureau of Death, Dying, and Deceased, which regulates ghosts and ghost-human interaction as much as possible.

The main character, Nick, works at the Bureau as a ghost realtor. His job is to relocate ghosts that are haunting houses in living-zoned areas to literal “ghost towns,” which are towns that have been converted for ghosts only. Basically, he gives a ghost a deed to an empty house in the ghost town so they can “haunt” it legally and without bothering the living.

People at the Bureau are ranked by “Witness Level,” which is essentially how many different types of ghosts they can see. Witness Level is roughly correlated with age; the older you are, the more ghosts you can see, generally. The main conflict of the story revolves around Nick’s Witness Level increasing dramatically when he is relatively young and how he reacts to it. But that’s not super relevant here. The relevant stuff here is that as Witness Level increases, ghost realtors start having to deal with bigger, more volatile ghosts, so they typically work with a partner. This is the scene that introduces Nick’s partner, Ben. While Nick is quite sympathetic to ghosts, Ben is…not.

Oh, and the “destabilizer” is basically like a ghost Taser. Realtors carry them but are only supposed to use them if they feel their lives are in danger.

Yeah. Stupid, right? Anyway, here’s the excerpt: 

Ben thundered into Nick’s office later that afternoon. He led by his voice, which had such a carrying boom to it that it hurled itself into the office well before Ben himself made his appearance in the doorway.

“Nick!” came the voice, followed by the heavy thud of Ben’s boots, then by the large, wide man wedging himself through the doorway. “I’ve got somethin’ fer ya.”

Benjamin Price was the size of a refrigerator and marginally more intelligent than one. He was never without a cowboy hat and at least one article of clothing made from alligator. Sometimes it was the hat itself, but more often than not it was his boots, belt, or vest. You could smell Texas in his accent and tobacco on his breath. He was the color of Wonder Bread except after exerting himself, in which case the white would give way to such an alarming shade of bright red that one almost ventured to ask him if he’d forgotten to take a breath in the past three minutes.

He was this particular shade of red as he burst through Nick’s office door, puffing but pretending not to, with a small box clutched in one of his meaty fists. When Ben said, “I’ve got somethin’ fer ya” to someone, he usually either meant he had a stern word or a lousy piece of advice, which is why Nick was surprised when the enormous man plunked the box down upon Nick’s desk and panted, “A present.”

Despite working with Ben for the past five years, Nick still got a kick of just how out of breath his co-worker got just from hauling his massive self around the office. He waited with a patient smile until Ben’s breathing finally calmed, then glanced down at the box. “A present for what?”

Ben parked his behind on the corner of Nick’s desk. It creaked unsettlingly beneath his weight. “I heard you moved up a Witness Level. Figured you’d need somethin’ to help you with the tougher ghosts that you’ll be dealin’ with now.”

Nick had to laugh. “Tougher ghosts? I’m a Level 4 now, Ben. Blue Types. Caspers. The worst thing they could do to me is accidentally bump into me in a hallway.”

“Never hurts to be prepared.” He tilted his head toward the box. “Open ‘er.”

Nick knew what it was before he even laid a hand on the present, but he humored Ben and pretended not to have a clue until the box was opened and the protective plastic cover was removed from the gadget within.

“A destabilizer?” He held it between the very tips of his forefinger and thumb as it if was trying to bite him. “Really?”

“Fer the ghosts.” Obviously.

“Thanks, but I already have one.”

“Not like this one, ya don’t.” In his enthusiasm, Ben leaned forward, causing the desk to give another pained creak. “You’ve just got the company issue, and that model’s three years old now. This new one is better. It’s safer ‘cause it’s got a two-factor shooting system. It won’t go off in yer pocket by accident. And it’s more powerful. Higher voltage. Makes fer scramblin’ up those ghosts a lot longer so ya got more time to get reinforcements.”

As always, Ben made it sound like an encounter with a ghost was a fight for one’s life where only an army could defend you if you entered at a disadvantage. If only his enthusiasm for relocating ghosts was as high as it was for destabilizing them. He’d be a better realtor than Nick.

Nick opened his mouth to speak, but Ben stopped him with a roll of his eyes. “I know what yer gonna say. ‘I’ve never used one. I don’t like destabilizing ghosts. Blah, blah, blah, ghosts can feel the voltage.’ I know what yer gonna say. But on one of yer jobs one day, yer gonna be blindsided by some big-ass ghost who won’t respond to yer touchy-feely way of relocating it and yer gonna wish you had one of these more modern destabilizers to deal with it.”

Nick gave him a forced smile. “Well, when that day comes, as I writhe in agony on the floor with twenty broken bones, my only thought will be, ‘that Ben was sure right.’” He was still holding the destabilizer; he moved to put it back in its box.

“Hey, wait,” Ben stopped him. “At least humor me by switching it out with yer old one. Ya still got yer old one, right?”

Nick sighed as he opened his lower right desk drawer. “Only because I’m required to.” As much as he hated to admit it, the new destabilizer did look like quite the impressive piece of equipment compared to the older model that he produced from the drawer. Even in its yellow holster, Nick could see that the company-issued weapon was made of an inferior metal as compared to the new one and, as he made the switch, realized just how much heavier it was compared to the sleek, streamlined version that Ben had presented him with.

“There ya are,” Ben said with satisfaction as Nick worked the new destabilizer in his old holster. “Yer a regular sharp-shooter now.”

“I’m still not going to use it.”

“You will,” Ben said with a frightening level of confidence. “Some day you will. Just remember to aim at their heads. I read an article that says a destabilizer fired at the head will discombobulate them for a full twenty minutes longer than a shot anywhere else on them.”

“Christ, Ben.”

“‘Christ, Ben,’” he mocked. He then reached over and gave Nick a playful punch in the shoulder that nearly sent him reeling to the floor before he hoisted himself from the desk and headed out the door. “Yer welcome for the gun,” his voice boomed from the hallway.

Nick spent a moment massaging his shoulder where Ben’s fist had crashed into it, then picked up the destabilizer. He held it in his hand for a moment, then opened his bottom right desk drawer and tucked the weapon deep beneath a pile of folders. Upon closing the drawer, he promptly forgot about it.

Book Review: I, Claudius (Graves)

Have I read this before: Nope! First time.

Review: Man, I was not expecting to like this book, but I got into it, yo. My knowledge of Roman emperors is (was?) close to 0%, especially with respect to timelines, families and relationships, and who did what. So I started this book thinking “haha, I’m not going to be able to place any of this in any sort of historical context, I’m not really interested in the time period, and I’m probably not going to get much enjoyment out of this.” But the way it’s written is so engaging and does such a good job of creating a clear timeline and a clear setup of the relationships amongst a lot of important historical characters that I’m now finding myself wanting to read more about that period of Roman history. The book is written as a fictional autobiography of Claudius and basically covers the period between Julius Caesar’s assassination and Caligula’s assassination, at which point Claudius becomes emperor. It’s a mixture of his telling of the history of many of his family members and relations and his personal experiences from childhood onward. He’s written as a very intelligent and sympathetic character. Great book. Read it.

Favorite part: There were a few lines/sections that were pretty great.

[Claudius had a stutter among other things, and people assumed he was stupid (he wasn’t; he was quiet but very observant and intelligent). This is Claudius’ grandmother, Livia, explaining to Augustus why Claudius speaking clearly through a declamation didn’t mean he wasn’t an idiot]
“The surprise that you had behind that curtain was no greater and no less than the surprise we once had when the Indian Ambassador took the silk cloth off the gold cage…and we saw the bird Parrot for the first time with his emerald feathers and ruby necklet and heard him say, “Hail Caesar, Father of the Country!” It was not the remarkableness of the phrase…but that a *bird* spoke it astonished us. And nobody but a fool would praise Parrot for his wit in coming out with the appropriate words, for he did not know the meaning of any one of them. The credit goes to the man who trained the bird, by incredible patients, to repeat the phrase…So with Claudius, though it is hardly complimentary to Parrot, an undeniably handsome bird, to compare my grandson to him: what you heard was without the least doubt a speech that he (Claudius) had happened to learn by heart.

[Caligula, now emperor, has told Claudius that he (Caligula) and his sister are gods.]
I grovelled on the floor again and retired, backwards. Ganymede stopped me in the corridor and asked for the news. I said: “He’s just become a God and a very important one, he says. His face shines.”
“That’s bad news for us mortals,” said Ganymede. “But I saw it coming. Thanks for the tip. I’ll pass it on to the other fellows. Does Drusilla know? No? Then I’ll tell her.”
“Tell her she’s a goddess, too,” I said, “in case she hasn’t noticed it.”

[Talking about more Caligula doing Caligula stuff.]
Another chance remark that I made at supper about this time had an unexpected effect on Caligula. Someone mentioned epilepsy and I said that Carthaginian records showed Hannibal to have been an epileptic, and that Alexander and Julius Caesar were both subject to this mysterious disease, which seemed to be an almost inevitable accompaniment of superlative military genius. Caligula pricked up his ears at this, and a few days later he gave a very good imitation of an epileptic fit, falling on the floor in the Senate House and screaming at the top of his voice, his lips white with foam – soap-suds, probably.

[Even more Caligula madness.]
Soon after this he had a thunder-and-lightening machine made. He lit a fuse and it made a roar and a flash and catapulted stones in whatever direction he wanted. But I have it on good authority that whenever there was a real thunderstorm at night he used to creep under the bed. There is a good story about that. One day a storm burst when he was parading about dressed as Venus. He began to cry: “Father, Father, spare your pretty daughter!”

Rating: 8/10

The United States is in a Freefall

That is an absolutely terrifying curve. Remember when we thought that “second wave” curve in July was bad? This is so much steeper.

What a time for the dilapidated pumpkin we call “President” (at least for now) to go silent, eh?

It’s like the perfect storm has led the US to where it is now. A huge political divide in the country that crested in the form of that ridiculous election, a pandemic that seems to be deepening that divide, a frightening number of people who don’t believe in science, a frightening number of people who won’t accept the mildest inconvenience in order to possibly save many, many lives, and leadership that’s done nothing to try to ease the strain of the pandemic and that as gone radio silent as the pandemic is crashing through the country.

Like…this is horrifying to watch from outside the US. How are y’all doing down there in the US? Please stay safe. Please wear a mask. Please stay the hell away from other people.

I miss you guys and I hope you’re all okay.