Telecommuting

I started telecommuting today, and like all new experiences, it has its pros and cons.

PROS

1. I won’t have to drive up and down all those hills in the snow.

2. I won’t have to worry about going over my data limit.  I listened to Songza all day with no worries, except when I put on the Beatles and within three songs, Listen To What The Man Says came on.  I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing that.  And I played it as loud as I liked without having to worry about disturbing others.

3. I’ll save $120 a month in gas.

4. I stopped every morning before work to get coffee, because I’m not wild about the coffee at work.  Now, I can make my own exactly how I like it, have it all day long and save the money I used to spend.

5.  I have a fifteen step commute now.

6. It doesn’t matter if I forget to charge my Kindle anymore.

7.  I can stay up now and see the end of all baseball games.

8. When we have overtime, I don’t have to go to bed at 9:30 like I’m 10.

9. I won’t forget to bring my lunch anymore.

10. I can work in my jammies.

11. I don’t have to wear shoes.  Or a bra.

12. I won’t have to set the alarm for any time that starts with 5 anymore.

13. I can roll out of bed 5 minutes before I start.

14. I don’t have to set foot out of the house during the next Polar Vortex.

15. I usually read during lunch.  Today I did it sprawled across my bed.

CONS

1. I miss seeing the people I work with.

That’s about it.  15 Pros and 1 Con.  But the 1 Con almost overshadows the 15 Pros.

Almost. 

 

 

 

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Think Before You Speak. Read Before You Think.

Slate Magazine recently ran a piece by Ruth Graham telling us that adults should feel embarrassed reading books that were written for children.

I never knew reading came with rules.

I’ve read enough YA books that I feel qualified to respond.  You know why I read them, Ruth?  To piss you off.

It started in the fall of 1999.  Kelly was 10.  The school would send home a monthly flyer from Scholastic Books.  I loved getting books from Scholastic because they were so cheap.  They had an ad for a book called Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It sounded great but it was also the third book in a series we weren’t familiar with.  We ordered the book from Scholastic and went to the bookstore to buy the first two.  (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban remain the only HP books we’ve ever owned in paperback.)  That started the same trend in my household that it started in most households, Kelly making midnight trips to the bookstore dressed as a dementor the night a new HP came out.  Kelly got to read them first, Jackie second and I was last but we’d all read them so fast that we were all caught up in the same week.

Harry Potter inspired so many games in my house.  We’d take turns naming chapter titles, or students, or teachers, or books, or magical creatures or spells to see who would get stumped first.

Ruth says I should be embarrassed. I have no idea but I’ll go out on a limb and surmise Ruth is not a parent.

I was not embarrassed.

I often read the books they were assigned in school, mainly to see what kind of books their Catholic grade school was exposing them to, and in just about every case, I was delighted.  Maniac MaGee, The Outsiders and The Westing Game; books I would have picked out for them myself.

I was not embarrassed.

Kelly was into John Green before John Green became cool. (Check that, John Green was always cool.  Before he became wildly popular.)  She’d recommend Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, Let It Snow, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and of course, The Fault In Our Stars, whose popularity set Ruth off on her rant.

Reading the same books as your kids and talking about them with each other is wonderful.

I was not embarrassed.

They are both grown women living out of state now but I’ve found that hasn’t changed my reading habits much.  I get a lot of book recommendations from Twitter and/or Facebook.  Last week, I started reading a book called The Borrower (not to be confused with The Borrowers, about the tiny people who live in the walls.)

It’s a first novel by Rebecca Makkai, and Ruth would have a cow.  It’s not a YA novel; it’s a novel for grade school children.  And I don’t even have Jackie and Kelly’s childhood to hide behind anymore.  It said it was about a librarian and her close relationship with a ten-year-old voracious reader.  I thought I would enjoy it if Ms. Makkai could write.

She wrote:

Like a good Russian, I wanted to break into Pastor Bob’s house and poison him.  Like a good American, I wanted to sue somebody.  But like a good librarian, I just sat at my desk and waited.

She also wrote:

I refuse to have bookshelves, horrified that I’d feel compelled to organize the books in some regimented system – Dewey or alphabetical or worse – and so the books lied in stacks, some as tall as me, in the most subjective order I could invent.

Thus Nabokov lived between Gogol and Hemingway, cradled between the Old World and the New; George Eliot and Jane Austen shared a stack with Thackeray because all I had of his was Vanity Fair, and I thought Becky Sharp would do best in the presence of ladies (and deep down I worried that if I put her next to David Copperfield, she might seduce him.)

Ruth didn’t want me reading that.  She didn’t want me reading those two lines that made me laugh out loud and led me wondering which of my literary characters would do well with a visit from another. (I’d have Hermione Granger knock some sense into Ophelia and Huck and Tom hang out with Scout.)

I was not embarrassed.

The Borrower addressed the Pray Away the Gay phenomena.  It made me very happy to know young readers, especially those who grow up in toxic households, can find books that speak to them.

My advice is read what you like, watch what you like and listen to what you like.  Ignore those who judge you.  I’m looking at you, Ruth.

While I have you here and I’m writing about books, I just finished up a reread of A Song of Ice and Fire.  Two days after I did, I found Preston Jacob’s YouTube channel with videos about the Pink Letter Mystery and the Martell Conspiracy and they made me almost want to go read those parts again.  Almost.  One of the greatest things about ASOIAF is the vast amount of conspiracy theories it inspires.  I haven’t seen this kind of crazy devotion since Lost.

GRRM got mad last month at all the fans who worry about him dying before he is finished with his series.  I can understand his rage, but he is 65 and obese.  We love you, George.  We want you to finish the books.  Just mix in a salad now and then.

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Sunday Bloody Sunday

Yes, this post is filled with spoilers.  Go read the books so you can stop whining about it.  Or, if you’re too lazy, stop searching for Game of Thrones in the tags.  You’re only causing your own misery.  I have no sympathy.

I did enjoy the Bran-might-meet-up-with-Jon-Snow storyline that was never in the books.  I forgive the TV writers for having Sam betray Bran by telling Jon he was alive, mostly because the show forgot to mention that salient fact, too.  I’m mostly glad they’ve wrapped that nonsense up already.  What’s the point of being a book reader if you can’t lord it over the TV watchers?  We live to be smug over non-readers.

My Sundays got a bit easier.  A few weeks ago, I was watching three shows on Sundays at nine.  My DVR can only handle two at a time so I had to resort to On Demand.  I am so not a fan of On Demand since you can’t fast forward (OMG.  Such first world problems.)  I was watching Believe, only because it was a J.J. Abrams show.  It was about a young girl with special powers who was on the run from the government with the man she did not know was her father.  Every show I watched was the same thing.  Run, run, hide, hide, oh no, they’ve spotted us, damn this New York City is a small town since they keep finding us, and in the middle of all the running and hiding, her special powers led her to do something wonderful for strangers.  Such wonderful things they’d make me cry.  I don’t need that; I have Parenthood for that.  That show was Quantum Leap with running and hiding.  What a mess.

I also watched Resurrection, which was such a mistake.  It seemed so appealing.  People were coming back from the dead.  Just regular everyday people, not Jesus Christ.  I stuck with it for ten weeks just to find out how they were coming back.  And they never told us.

I am the wrong person to read fantasy or science fiction. (except for the good ones.)  I want logic in worlds where there is no logic.  Just tell me.  Did they come back from the dead because they’re aliens, or clones, or was it magic?  I kept watching for the sole reason of seeing the writers blow it.  Besides the mystery, they wanted us to buy the fact that no one, outside of this small town in Missouri, knew people were coming back to life.  As if no one in that small town of Missouri knew about Twitter or Facebook.  Yet, somehow, the writers didn’t have the government finding out until week ten.  I hate shows that assume their viewers are stupid.

It hasn’t been renewed yet, which is fine by me.  I just found out it is based on a book, so now I can read it and find out the how.  And be even more smug.

I have a habit of rooting for TV anti-heroes: Jack Baeur, Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Nancy Botwin, Tim Riggins, Sawyer, Frank Underwood and Don Draper.  I’m hoping Mad Men ends as excellently as Breaking Bad.  I saw hints of it on Sunday.  For years, I’ve wondered if Mad Men will end with Don throwing himself out of his office window, as we see in the opening credits every week.  He’s as low as he’s ever been.   And can we just stop with the California crap?  This is a NYC show and no one cares about the Sharon Tate-Benedict Canyon nonsense with his wife.  It’s spring 1969 on the show, and when Don found the Mets banner under his filing cabinet, then sang Meet the Mets, then went to a Mets game, I felt Don is going to end as well as the ’69 Mets now.  That would be Amazin’.

My apologies to the folks who followed the “Resurrection” and “Believe” tags thinking they’d find a kindred religious soul.  Trust me.  I’m not your gal.

 

 

 

Reverse This

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook from white people, complaining that if gay people can be proud to be gay, and black people can be proud to be black, why can’t they be proud to be white?   Reverse racism, they cry.

Sigh.

Pride is a feeling you get from overcoming an obstacle or doing something difficult.  You can be proud you dropped ten pounds.  You can be proud you stopped smoking.  You can be proud of your honor student.  I’ll be proud if I ever get through Swann’s Way.

There is no difficulty involved in being white.  It’s a walk in the park with absolutely nothing to overcome.  Same thing if you were born male, or Christian, or straight.  The world is your oyster.

Pride is the wrong word.  The right word is lucky.  We’re lucky we were born white.

Goodbye, Dish Network

I’m changing TV providers.  I’m finally dropping Dish Network – something I should have done in 2010 – and going to FIOS.  This means I have to return my old DVR, and all the lovely things we’ve saved and protected over the years.  I had to go watch a lot of them once more for old time’s sake.

There was Jackie on the floor of the House on C-Span, her first time there.  I’ll hate losing that.  So the cameras wasn’t focused on her, but she was seated right behind the person the camera was focused on.  There’s Brink!, which Kelly and her buddies watched more times than anyone else in the world.  I even protected Sharknado! (a rash of TV shows with exclamation points!)  And there’s the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad.

I texted Kelly telling her how sad this was, especially to be losing BB since that season isn’t on Netflix yet.  And within eight hours, I got an email from Netflix telling me the last season was now available.  That was what I needed to put me back into a Screw You, Dish Network mode who laid me off four years ago.  Took me long enough to end that abusive relationship.

I rewatched the last eight episodes of BB this week.  Such a perfect confluence of acting, directing, cinematography, soundtrack and writing.  Writing, writing, writing.

I liked going back but mostly it reminded me of how bad The Walking Dead gets.

Tainted

I rewatched Ken Burns Baseball on Netflix, all nine innings.   Then I watched the tenth inning, which is newer than the rest of the series, and something I never saw before.

It started in 1992 with Sid Bream scoring at home and breaking my heart and moved on to the strike, the fans staying away after the strike, Cal, Maddux and Glavine, Junior, Jeter, Torre, the re-dominance of the Yankees, Pedro, the influx of Latino players, McGwire and Sammy, Barry, Ichiro, 9-11, the fabulous 2001 WS, (I had forgotten about Byung Hyun Kim and Randy in relief in Game 7), how MLB did nothing to stop steroids since the turnstiles were humming and fans loved it and the union thinking the players were above accountability until Congress forced them to do something, Barry not winning the WS, Bartman, Schilling’s bloody sock, BALCO, and Juiced.

During their talks about steroids, they had Chris Rock on who said if you could take a pill that would make you do your job better and get you paid a whole lot more, would you do it? Sure, he said. Everyone would.

He’s probably right, but it’s the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is if you could take a pill that would make you do your job better and get you paid a whole lot more, would you do it, knowing it was illegal in your company? That it was cheating?

Not everyone puts money over integrity.

The numbers of Yesses would drop drastically.

This show started with baseball in the 1830’s and the best thing about the tenth inning was a dramatic decrease in the number of times people waxed poetic about the game. I was about done with the “baseball is a metaphor for…” comparisons.  My favorite improvement in baseball was the teams stopping fans from running on the field. That went on well into the 80’s. Keep the fans in the stands where they belong and let the players have the moment to themselves.

Barry*, you still suck.

 75 days until Opening Day!

Buccos 2013

Favorite sports moment of 2013, which means Buccos, cause I’d never pick the Steelers or Penguins. It should be easy with the WC game after the fans made Cueeeetooooo melt down and drop the ball ten seconds before Russell hit it out of the park.  Or staying over .500 since April 17.  Or going 45-31 in the toughest division in baseball. But nothing beats Win Number 82, when 22-year-old Gerrit Cole outpitched Yu Darvish with the only run of the game being scored by Huntington’s first ever first round draft pick (Mr. Alvarez), with the final out being a bouncer to Neil Walker, who lived here for all of those twenty-one years and knew what it meant to us. Home Opener…three months from today.

Darkwing Duck Dynasty

I didn’t know what Duck Dynasty was until this morning.

You absolutely have the right to be a homophobe. You absolutely have the right to be a racist and think black people were happier under Jim Crow. (I just watched 10 minutes of Duck Dynasty…is this really what America watches? Well, no wonder.) That does not make you free of the consequences of your bigotry. When Chick-Fil-A came out in support of homophobia, some people stopped going there, and when Starbucks came out in support of gays, some people stopped going there. Consequences. It’s interesting when a nonsense issue like this so clearly divides Us vs. Them.

I want my life back

I innocently downloaded the app QuizUp, started playing and then didn’t stop for eight hours.  It’s a trivia game but a very fast one.  Each game has only six rounds so you can complete it in a minute.  It has not only the expected subjects, but they are further broken down into smaller subjects.  You can play general TV, or specialize in Big Bang Theory, Classic Cartoons or Seinfeld.

I started out with General Knowledge, which was all over the board.  After you beat so many opponents, your title changes from Novice to Smartypants.  (I’m House Baratheon now in Game of Thrones and Captain Cook in Breaking Bad.  I once lost to a Heisenberg there.)

It’s better than games like Draw Free because you don’t have to wait for your opponent to come back and take his turn.  You just pick a category and someone from anywhere in the world will be there to play.  (Which is great, but also caused me to stay up until 2 AM last night.)

I lost my first game in Shakespeare which annoyed my no end I had to keep at it.  Same thing with The Beatles.  I had many men quit on me when they were losing to a girl in baseball.  There are many sub categories I’ll probably never try, like economics, wine or Justin Bieber, but there’s a topic to appeal to every taste.

It’s a blast and highly addicting.  And it’s free!  It’s timed which leads to people to pick too quickly without reading closely enough which gives you fun answers such as opponents saying Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Jimmy Carter, which would definitely come as a surprise to Jimmy Carter.

It only took me ten minutes to write this post, but still I stopped and played three more games during it.  C’mon, it’s December.  What else do you have to do with your time this month?

If you download it, come look for me.  My screen name is Katymaria and I’ll kick your ass in Classic Literature!

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Eleanor & Park

John Green tweeted his list of the five best YA novels to get this Christmas for the YA in your life you love.  As every YA reader and Nerdfighter knows, when John Green talks about books, people listen.  I picked Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, and then decided to read it myself.   I love when first-time novelists knock it out of the park, and the success of this book lies not only in how good it is, but also the review John Green gave it in the New York Times.  It was a rave and included the line, “Eleanor & Park” reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

It’s the story of two sixteen-year-olds in Omaha in 1986.  They are both outcasts; him for being half-Korean and a comic book geek, and her for being overweight and having a bushel of flaming red curly hair and for being a weird dresser.  She gets bullied because she is outside of the high school norm. Continue reading