2021 and 2022 Travel

I’m going to try to keep this short, because it’s 10 at night and I’m about to turn into a pumpkin.

I’ve been thinking about my next few trips. I have a tentative plan to visit a friend in Toronto in the summer or fall, provided I can legally go into Canada at that point. That remains to be seen.

I also am thinking about finally taking my trip to Carlsbad Caverns or maybe Hot Springs National Park. That will depend on Alex’s ability to travel this year because National Parks have been sort of “our” thing over the last nine years (minus 2020 because 2020).

Then, in 2022, I’m planning to go to Seattle to visit family and to get some pictures, since our Seattle pictures are something that Thomas has. I was chatting with my cousin and he suggested I do some camping. Well, that would probably require Alex, as when I travel alone, I intend to have licensed innkeepers and deadbolts. I’m adventurous, not foolhardy.

The thing is that the idea of camping my way up the pacific coast does have some appeal. As I make whatever plans I end up making, I’ll certainly post about them here.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but it’s next in my list, so here goes. Today’s book is So You Want to Be a Wizard, by Diane Duane. So You Want to Be a Wizard is the first book in Duane’s Young Wizards series, which is currently ten books long. By the time I finish those books, it may well be eleven books long. We’ll see once we get there.

So. 2021.

As anyone who has been reading here knows (Hi!), I’m in San Antonio, Texas. You know, the San Antonio that just had a snowstorm and then the electricity was down for much of the city for most of last week? That San Antonio?

Yeah.

And, as these things happen, I went into a fairly mild depressive spiral around then. I think it was just how haphazard everything was. I didn’t know what I would be doing, job-wise, from one day to the next. Our store was only open for four hours on Monday, and I was paralyzed by fear. I mean, I grew up driving in snow, but I haven’t done it in probably 15 to 20 years. That and there are basically three routes from here to work — a major highway, which was closed, a major street that’s hilly, or a less-major street which isn’t well-traveled at the best of times and where I was afraid I’d have trouble finding the street under the snow.

I was, like, “I wonder how long it’d take me to walk to work from here, because I sure don’t feel comfortable driving today.”

By the time the store opened, my shift was nearly done, so they told me just not to come in. I made it in on Tuesday, taking the less-traveled road, which had been driven on enough that I could find the road, and we lost electricity after about five hours and so we went home about an hour after that.

Wednesday, the store still didn’t have electricity, so we opened late, and then Thursday, the store didn’t have electricity at all.

So, guess what work was like on Friday.

Gratuitous photo time. This is Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of my personal light house goals. We’ll probably see this photo again when I do a retrospective of Alex and my trip to North Carolina in 2013.

On top of this, the electricity was off and on at my house. Sunday night we were one of the houses that got the rotating blackouts, 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

Then Monday morning, the electricity changed to five minutes on, 55 minutes off while the sun was out. Once the sun set, it was just off. When I washed myself before work on Tuesday, I could see steam rising from the sink in the light of my cell phone. Wednesday night, the electricity came back on and has been on since.

The freezing weather seems to be over. It’s 50 degrees outside right now and should peak at 66 tomorrow.

I’m actually upset that there were so many stressors this week, because normally I love the snow. When it snowed a few years ago, I was over the moon because aside from being a little white-knuckled on the way home, there were no stressors. I knew that my job would be there in the morning, and, while we had to run the faucets to keep the pipes from freezing, the electricity stayed on, so I knew that if I went out and got my feet all wet from the snow, I could dry them off in the warmth afterwards.

I wonder if I could plan a snow vacation this fall. Maybe the mountains in New Mexico?

Another thing I’ve learned from this is that I need some semblance of a routine for my mental health. A while ago, I tried to start heading to bed at 10:30. I don’t have to go to sleep then, but I at least have to be in bed and reading or whatever. I think I’ve even watched a YouTube video or two at this point. It’s 11 now, so I missed that goal for today. Better luck tomorrow.

I’m going to try to get back to blogging on a daily basis for now. I’m going to try to schedule them ahead of time, every other day, so that anyone who reads here won’t be hit with a firehose of blog posts. This will post immediately, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. I went digging to see where I left off on GAL’ing my Goodreads list. Today we have Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett, the 16th book in the Discworld series and the third featuring Death and his family. At first, I thought that this was where I burned out, but, guess what? I still have six more Discworld books to go.

Monster High

Just a bit of book blogging here.

When I first started in retail, before I became a pharmacy technician, I worked in the toys department. Mattel had a new line of (unrealistically skinny) fashion dolls that are supposed to be the daughters of the classic movie monsters. Frankie Stein is Frankenstein’s Monster’s daughter, Draculaura is, of course, Dracula’s daughter, Cleo deNile is the daughter of the Mummy, and Clawdeen Wolf is the daughter of the Wolfman.

There were other dolls, too, including my personal favorite, Ghoulia Yelps, who is a zombie. One of the boy dolls was Deuce Gorgon, Cleo’s boyfriend and the son of Medusa.

Mattel created two tie-in book series. One, Monster High, by Lisi Harrison, is a young adult series that includes the same characters in a different universe from the one that the dolls and tie-in web series occupy. Our POV character in this series, which begins with a book called, erm, Monster High, is a new character named Melody Carver*, whose family has moved to Salem, Oregon because the pollution in Los Angeles was bad for Melody’s asthma. Each of the four books in the series focuses on a different one of the central “ghouls” (the Monster High word for “girls”). In order, they are Frankie, Cleo, Clawdeen, and Draculaura.

The other, Ghoulfriends, is a middle-grade series by Gitty Daneshvari and that is in the same universe (or one that’s close enough to kiss) to the webisode universe. The middle-grade series is way cuter, or I guess I should say “cutesier” than the young adult series.

While going through my Goodreads account, I noticed that I had never put read dates down for either of these series. So I knocked out the first three of the young adult books pretty quickly. Going on to the first of the middle grade series too soon gave me whiplash, though, so I put it aside for a couple of weeks.

I’m going to tackle the cutesy middle grade series soon, though. I seem to recall from my first readthrough that I adapted to the cutesiness pretty quickly. I’m posting here because I’m going to start reading them tonight, December 17, 2020, and will finish this post once my brain adjusts, just so that I can memorialize the adaptation.

I’m finishing up this post now, at 2:42 am on December 20. I actually cracked the first Ghoulfriends book on December 17, then put it right back down and read another couple of books. I started it again on December 19 and just finished the first Ghoulfriends book, and I adapted to the cutesiness by Chapter 4

*Who was, unfortunately, never turned into a doll.

24 Hours of Happy 9:00 pm to

I found the document! I still can reach it through the OpenOffice app that I used to write it.

Now to give Mr. Williams some money. He’s apparently gotten big in the shoe design business lately. So I’m probably going to just pretty much do all Pharrell Williams branded athletic shoes from here on out. The highest rated of these on Amazon is these, described as adidas Pw Tennis Hu Mens Trainers (sic). I have no idea what the “Hu” means, but the “Pw” is pretty clearly Pharrell Williams.

Now, on to the post:

9:00 Have we moved? We suddenly are in a strip mall with an ACE Cash Express and a Subway. There’s some kind of a cell phone store. I can see the word “Galaxy” through the window. Does Samsung have stores like Apple does?

It looks like it’s downtown. There’s a CVS back there.

Wait. There’s an H&R Block. I think we’re in the same strip mall that we were in at 8:00. We just passed a Time Warner office. Yeah, we’ve got to be in the same strip mall. Other strip malls might have the same stores, but in the same order? That’s stretching credulity, I think.

9:04 We’ve moved again, I’m pretty sure. We’re in a parking lot. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing.

9:08 We’re outside that parking lot and this area looks familiar. The dancer passes a sign that says, in part, “Labor Commission Court House.” One of the labels says “Angel’s Flight,” as well. So let’s see if we can work with that.

We’re in luck. It looks like the parking lot is at Hill and 3rd. We follow Hill to 7th, then cross Hill and keep going northwest on 7th. I really wish the streets downtown were oriented to the cardinal directions.

The 9:28 dancers look to be someone (well, two someones) who work behind the scenes of this project. They’re carrying some kind of glowy monitor screen things and at 9:28:48-ish they turn the screens towards the camera and if I’m correct, the monitors show them showing the monitors to the camera. Actually you can see one of the guys in one of the photos on Jon Beattie’s website. And evidently they filmed this part the same day that they did 5:32 because he’s wearing the same shirt. Is the guy standing next to him in that photo the other 9:28 dancer? He might be. We pick up another guy from behind the scenes at 9:29:55 or so and another at 9:31. Meanwhile, we make a left onto Hope.

Our 9:32 dancer passes the same place where our 12:56 am dancer was. We cross Hope and then make a left so that we’re going southeast on 8th Street. They then pass a mirrored building and Beattie turns the camera so that we see the reflection of everyone in the entourage and someone guides Beattie towards the glass so that we can see the man behind the camera.

We make a right onto Grand and at the door of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising is a sculpture of an angel wearing a cat mask standing on a blue rectangle. The angel a sculpture called “Transforming Yourself into Fashion” and is by Gwynn Murrill and the blue rectangle leads into the lobby where there is a rotunda with “flying figures” on the ceiling. I haven’t had much luck finding pictures of the rotunda and from what I can find, Google Maps’s indoor photos of the building are limited to pictures of the museum in the building. The images of the main reception area are not the same place, from what I can tell.

We make a right onto Olympic Boulevard and another right onto Hope.

9:56 Now we must be at the high school that we see in the official video. I wonder what high school it is? I wonder if it’s Hollywood High for the, like, fifth time in this video. The image is flipped again, judging by the lettering on the signs. Also, it’s a different day than when they filmed 5:32 and 9:28 because we see someone who sure looks like one of our 9:28 dancers and he’s wearing a different shirt. Beattie goes backwards up a flight of stairs this time. Even knowing how large the crew on this is, I’m still impressed.

What Did I Have for Dinner Tonight?

December 5, 2020

I made another dish from Diane Seed’s The Top 100 Pasta Sauces (repeat Germane Amazon Link) book. This was the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (literally, “Whore’s Spaghetti”). The story is that after a long evening of work, the sex workers in Italy would just throw whatever was in their larder together to make dinner, or they wanted an easy sauce to make between clients, or that they begged nearby restaurants for whatever cast off ingredients they had, etc., and that’s how the sauce got its name. There aren’t really any sources to back this up, however.

It is a pretty good sauce, though. The recipe is basically just tomatoes, olives, and capers. Some, such as the one in Seed’s book, include garlic, others include red pepper flakes, and some include both garlic and red pepper flakes.

I know that the image isn’t centered in the ellipse. I decided at the last minute that I needed a photo of the dish and didn’t have the time or energy to clean off my counter. So I cropped as much clutter as I could in Paint.Net and then used the ellipse display to cut out the rest of it. Hopefully when I tackle cheap knockoff Chicken Lo Mein later this week I’ll think ahead more.

Now, I’m not really a foodie or anything. I don’t even know how much really hard core cooking I’ll do in the future. So I didn’t want to buy a jar of anchovies or a whole head of garlic or anything that might go bad.

As a result, I ended up using garlic powder and anchovy paste. I did buy the capers, though, and Seed’s recipe called for more than half the jar. I ended up putting just about half the jar in, so that I would have half a jar for a second batch if I liked it. I already had the olives from when I made pasta salad earlier in the week. I’m not really sure what the capers added to the pasta, but the olives were tasty.

My Reading History

Part Something of Some Number

Wow. It’s December 5, and I’ve completely gotten out of the habit of writing every day. Well, not out of the habit as such, but, well, I realized that I hadn’t finished posting my 24 Hours of Happy project (and I missed a couple of hours along the way, too) and now I can’t find the file it was in.

So I’ve spent the whole month so far with File Exploder* (or whatever they’re calling it nowadays) searching my entire computer in the background for the word “Pharrell.” So far it’s found some music and a backup of my blog. This is no help.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping, so I started organizing my reading projects in my head and I realized that I’ve had a lot of “phases” in my reading. The first phase I had was probably Nancy Drew starting at about 10 years old. Then I had an Agatha Christie phase. After that, was maybe gothic romance? I think that was late middle school or early high school.

Somewhere around then was my Erma Bombeck phase. I still love to reread those books.

Then it was genre fiction. Mostly it was epic fantasy with a side order of science fiction, but there was a lot of supernatural stuff, too. That phase lasted years.

I never left genre fiction entirely, but I did go back to gothic romance again. At some point, I attempted to read all of the books of Victoria Holt. I think I only scratched the surface, but I’ll have to do some digging to figure out what percentage I read. I think that might have been around the time of my Ann Rule phase.

At some point, before Amazon became a thing, I began to scare myself with how fast I was killing off the books, so I joined the History Book Club in an effort to slow myself down. I still have a bunch of books from back then that I haven’t read. I’ve got to make some decisions about them.

Then I had cancer and my reading became no longer as fast as it had been. There’s a condition known as “chemo brain” where people who have had cancer have more trouble concentrating than they did before. And that was definitely me. I left the history books behind then, because reading anything successfully was a challenge at that point and haven’t really gotten back into them. I did go back to focusing on epic fantasy, supernatural, etc. for a while.

At some point, I entered a kidlit phase. I really enjoy this in a way that kind of resembles my enjoyment of epic fantasy, but in a way, it’s actually maybe more enjoyable. I think this is because the books are shorter and they may deal in heavy topics like interpersonal relationships (not just romance, but friends, family, coworkers, etc.), trauma, etc. but they do it in a way that isn’t so traumatic. Or something like that. The other thing is that since the books are shorter, I can cover more genres. Science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, whatever. If it sounds interesting, I’ll give it a shot.

Crap. I had a historical fiction phase, too. When even was that?

When I say “phase,” I don’t mean that I read this to the exclusion of all else. Rather, it’s more like, I don’t know. I just read so many books that I don’t know if I could ever read just one genre to the exclusion of all else. I’m trying to come up with a good analogy. Or even a bad analogy. Maybe it’s like meals. You can have the same thing for breakfast every day for a long time, but you’ll still have a varied diet for lunch and dinner? I think that’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

It feels odd to have a Gratuitous Amazon Link here, since this was about books, but since I didn’t discuss any specific book, it’d be weird to shoehorn that in just so that I can have a Germane Amazon Link. Looks like Men at Arms, a City Watch book of the Discworld series is up next. Let this be a warning to anyone reading this — be careful how many books in the same series you read. You may have to end up posting links to them in your blog someday, and that will be *really* monotonous.

*I don’t know if that’s original to Thomas or if he got it from somewhere else. It certainly isn’t original to me.

More Language Updatey Stuff

November 30, 2020 3 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

So. It’s November 30, which means that tomorrow I change languages to Italian for December and January. I suspect this will go more easily than October and November did, simply because I have an easier time reading very, very small Latin script than very, very small traditional Chinese characters.

Italian is great. I love Italian. I love Italy. I’m going to do Italian for Duolingo and my games and go back to ChinesPod in the car (because I always work on Chinese in one way or another). This dovetails nicely with my current cookbook, which is Italian, and the next cookbook, which is also Italian.

It’s the language I’m going to do in February and March that’s causing me some consternation. I don’t want to go right from Italian to Spanish, so I’m looking for a language for between them. When I looked for a low-corruption country to maybe consider specializing in, I ended up mostly in Northern Europe. Okay, I thought. Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish. I can work with those.

Only apparently I can’t. It’s my phone. I can set my phone on each of those languages, only at this point, Android is only slightly compatible with them. I set my phone on Danish, with Spanish secondary and my phone ended up being this kind of disturbing combination of the two languages. The same thing happened with the other languages.

So. I guess that’s not going to help me decide.

Maybe I can do a non-European language next, though. and leave the Northern European languages for later. I think I have a pretty convincing case for Vietnamese in February and March. I wonder what apps will come out in Vietnamese if I put that first on my phone?

Ooh! Android likes Vietnamese! Let’s try my other apps. I know that neither Wizards Unite nor Design Home are available in Vietnamese. No on Pokémon Go. Not Candy Crush, either. Also Kindle. Well, Samsung Health is available in Vietnamese. Babbel’s a no, too. Duolingo has Vietnamese for English speakers.

That may end up being what I do.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’m doing yet another Discworld book, this time a Witches one: Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett.

Argh!

November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 30, 2020 2 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

Tonight’s dinner is going to be a pretty short one, probably. Tonight we’re having what Alex and I refer to as “Election Night Chicken.”

Back in the early 2000s, I worked as an election clerk. It was pretty good money for one day’s work. I’d work the entire time, from 7 am until the last voter left and we’d packed everything up, so maybe 12.5, 13 hours. At $10 per hour, that was pretty good for one day. I also got to know a lot of my neighbors that way, which was nice.

I didn’t take a lunch hour those days, more like a lunch long break. I’d buy chicken legs and stick them in the freezer. Then, the day before Election Day, I’d stick them in the refrigerator to thaw most of the way through, and then at noon, I’d run home, throw the chicken and 1/3 of a cup of Liquid Smoke into the Crock Pot (I can use the brand names for both because I was using the brand names of both), set it on low, then go back to the election.

At about 6 pm, Alex would start checking the temperature, and when it hit 165, he’d turn it down to warm, and wait for me to come home.

After a while, Alex decided it needed a name so that we didn’t have to keep calling it “chicken in the Crock Pot with Liquid Smoke.” I believe the recipe I stole this from was originally called something like “Faux Barbecued Chicken” and was more complicated than we made it, but since we pared it down to just the Liquid Smoke and the chicken, we decided to just call it Election Night Chicken, since we had it on, well, Election Night.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. I though we were getting close to the end of the Discworld books, but it looks like we’ll still be there for a while. I do have a break from them today, though. Our book right now is Generation Why, the second Ms. Marvel compilation by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona.