Foreign Languages, Reading, and Reading in Foreign Languages, Part 3

I can’t find a subtitle box

So I’m going with headings

Subtitle: A/K/A The Weirdest Language Project I’ve Started So Far

Sub-subtitle: Our Gratuitous Amazon Links Aren’t So Gratuitous for This Post.

In the beginning (as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before), my mom was a youth services librarian. I helped her read a bunch of the books that she purchased w-a-a-y past the point when it was age-appropriate for me.

And then I got a BSEd in Curriculum and Instruction (the fancy way of saying “elementary education”) and had to read kids’ books both for the degree and for planning my classroom library. I ended up becoming a paralegal, but the kidlit was definitely a high point.

Fast forward, oh, nine years? Ten? Alex was a baby and Harry Potter was the next big thing. I was kind of dubious because once something becomes what everyone I know talks about, unless I was an early adopter, I feel kind of excluded by the topic.

But when we were house shopping (and in this very house, btw), one of the kids’ bedrooms had Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the desk. It was this huge doorstop of a book and I was instantly intrigued. So I went out and got Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and soon afterwards the rest of the series up to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I joined the fandom and wrote fanfic and waited impatiently for each book, despite growing sort of disenchanted with them as we got further into the series. More on this in maybe another book-blogging post.

Where to go next? Okay. While waiting for . . . . No, actually that came second, I think. Upon a quick visit to Wikipedia, yes, that came second.

In 2003*, Thomas joined a book club. One of the books they read was a mystery by a writer named Rick Riordan. Thomas told me about it, and it sounded interesting to him but didn’t do much for me.

In 2005, Thomas and I took a road trip and he wanted us to listen to an audiobook by Riordan on the trip. I was dubious until he told me that it was kidlit. So we gave it, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, a shot and I loved it.

Then, during the two-year hiatus between Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of my friends recommended Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. I read the first two books. This had to have gone down earlier than 2006, because I remember talking to my mom about this. I wasn’t really gripped by it and stopped at two. I have no regrets about not reading the third book.

I realized after a bit, though, that I already had the perfect books to read (and reread) and plug to all and sundry, Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and the people I plugged it too would still kind of get in on the ground floor, because there were, at that point, only two books into the series.

Gratuitous photo time. I was tired last night. I forgot that I’d already dug up a second photo to post. This is the Dyfi furnace in Wales. Originally built so smelt iron, it also was used as a sawmill. At least, I’m almost sure that’s what it is. We were doing the American-style tour of the UK and didn’t have any time to dig around for interpretive signage or anything on that date. i snapped this picture out the car window and looked for what it was later.

At some point, Thomas gave me Harry Potter y el Prisionero de Azkaban as a gift, and I realized that I could get all of the Harry Potter books in translation as foreign language practice. I started with Chinese and got the Chinese translations of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for some reason, I can’t get typing in Chinese to work right now) and have spent the last couple of years working on them. I also have the Italian and German translations of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Then JK Rowling came out as a transphobe. I have friends, coworkers, and patients who are trans. My son has friends who are trans. I thus kind of reluctantly** decided to stop buying foreign translations of her Harry Potter books.

And then it hit me. Riordan has written, oh, dear, God, so many books in the world that started with The Lightning Thief. And so many translations! Spanish and German and Dutch and Vietnamese and Icelandic and Czech and Turkish and . . .

So, now the weird project. To get all of the translations of all of Riordan’s mythology books — Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, wherever else he ends up taking us. In every language we can get them in.

I know that I don’t speak Dutch, or Icelandic, or Turkish (and I barely speak Vietnamese and Czech, but I’m working on them!). But who knows where time and curiosity will take me in the future? And when I finally do start this degree, maybe I’ll have a classmate who wants to study one of these many languages and I can lend (with emphasis on lend!) a book or two to the cause.

I hope that Riordan is as great as he seems because I love his books so much.

At this point, it’s 1 in the morning and I’ve been writing for an hour. I have to work tomorrow so I’m going to leave this here and dig up a gratuitous travel photo sometime tomorrow (well, later today, I guess) and then post.

*I can remember what year it was because the only book they did that sounded interesting to me was The Devil in the White City, which was a new release that year. Thomas and I read it in parallel. I don’t remember if I went to the meeting or not, though.

** See also my growing disenchantment with the series.

Foreign Languages, Reading, and Foreign Language Reading, Part 2

I’ve been feeling kind of down on myself lately because “I haven’t been reading so much.” The fact is, though, that I read a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. I just read articles, and blog posts, and comments on those blog posts, and Facebook posts, and comments on those Facebook posts, and Reddit posts, and comments on those Reddit posts.

And that’s not even counting the rabbit holes. I’ll see a reference to this place, or this person, or this company in an article and down the rabbit hole I’ll go. I was reading an article on “Lean In” feminism and Elizabeth Holmes (alleged con artist who started a company that had technology that supposedly could do an entire workup of your bodily functions from one drop of blood).

I followed a link from the article to a short article on Holmes’s claim that her dog, a Husky she named “Balto” was a wolf. That led me to wondering what was up with the case against her, so now as I write this, I have another tab open to two different articles about how she may be going to claim a “mental disease” caused her behavior and how the judge is allowing up to 14 hours of psychological testing over a two-day period to see if her brain is malfunctioning.

That’s a small divergence rather than a true rabbit hole, but I’ve gone from article to article, then back to Google to research something else that one of the articles reminded me of, for hours.

Today’s unrelated photo. I really loved this picture of the Iron Bridge in Ironbridge from our 2002 UK tour. Unfortunately, the very top of the picture was overexposed or something. I played around with the clone tool to try to darken that section, but it was imperfect, so I cut it off. I’ll continue playing with it, and one I get my butt back to my travel memories posts, and I get to that part of the UK trip, maybe I can do a new version of this image as it should look.

What I mean when I say that I’m not reading “enough” is that I’m way, way behind on my National Geographics and I’m not plowing through novels the way I used to. I am therefore putting forth an actual effort. Fiction is still going slowly for me, which kind of worries me, but I’m hoping it’s just that I’m just out of practice.

I’m really, really hoping that I’m just out of practice.

Thomas’s side of my bed is now covered in novels (more on those in my next post) and National Geographic magazines. Once I finish my current National Geographic issue, I’ll post about the travel-y stuff in it. Or maybe I’ll leave it until November. Oh, I’ve got so many National Geographics to read that I’m sure I can do this one now and still have plenty for November.

As to books, I’m a member of a book club, so that’s at least one fiction book per month. And there are occasional bonus books, so that’s two books per month for those months.

I also have a new fiction-reading thing I’m doing, but that’ll have to wait until my next post, because it deserves a post of its own rather than being crammed at the end of this one.

My History as a Reader, Part Two of However-Many

The next milestone in my history as a reader was in August of 1974. My mom had breast cancer (though she didn’t know about it yet), and Nixon had just resigned.

My family was in North Carolina visiting my grandfather, and I had run out of books to read. We were in some kind of convenience store/ice house place. I think the building was painted red and it had a screen door.

Anyway, I told my parents that I’d run out of books. There was a rack of comics there and one of them (I think it was my dad) said, “Buy a comic book.”

I felt really uncomfortable, almost like I was doing something wrong, or someone was playing a practical joke on me. But I took a Superman comic book and we paid for it. The story in the comic book wasn’t really gripping to me, but the ads had something that made a big impression on me. Super heroines. Supergirl in particular at first. So I mentioned that Supergirl stories sounded like they’d be interesting.

My dad worked in the circulation department of a newspaper and when he was making his rounds, he saw a Superman Family comic book that featured Supergirl. So he picked it up and it was all downhill from there.

Soon my dad was buying me any comics he saw with female leads, or groups with multiple female characters — Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, Justice League . . . . Also Howard the Duck, which is awesome, even if it didn’t fit the theme. This lasted about eight years? 10 years? Until pretty late in my high school career, at least.

In 1991, I married Thomas. He’d seen my comic book collection and wanted to start collecting as well. When we first got married, we’d occasionally go to the 7-11 and get two Slurpees and a couple of comic books.

On or around our first anniversary, Superman died. I knew there was no way they’d leave him dead, so even though I was tempted to bite on those comics, I figured I’d wait until they brought Superman back.

As fate would have it, the first of the Return of Superman storyline came out just before I moved to Texas. Thomas was already here and I was living alone while I got to the midpoint of my final semester of paralegal school, at which point I would take incompletes and have the rest of that semester and all of the next to write papers to finish up those classes.

I went to a comic book store on Jackson Street just around the corner from the Sears Tower and picked up the first of the comics in the arc. I felt very conspicuous, as I was the only woman in there. But I got the comic and reading comics was just as much fun as I remembered.

Once Thomas and I were reunited in Texas, we decided to really commit to collecting comics. There was a comic book store not too far from where we were living, and when we went in there, they didn’t stare at me like I was some kind of alien lifeform. They treated me like a customer.

So, for the next 10 years, Thomas and I had a date night to go out to the comic book store and then go out to dinner. We had pull lists and when the daughter of the man who owned the store got married, we sent her a wedding card. When I was pregnant with Alex, she sent us a card, as well.

Good times.

Eventually, it just wasn’t as fun as it had been, so we stopped. Then, like, six years later, we got divorced. I asked for my pre-marriage comics and a couple of other series that I really loved in the divorce. Thomas got the rest of the comics.

The post-2003 break from comic reading ended up a bit longer than my first break. In the late 20-teens, I began to hear new things about comics that sounded interesting. Specifically, the comics that sounded good were the new Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Since I came into these series pretty late, rather than going back to my old comic book store, I started buying the compilations as ebooks.

Squirrel Girl is over and I’m putting off buying that last compilation. It’s weird, I know, but I don’t want it to end. Once I can face the ending I’ll get it. I was waiting for the next volume of Ms. Marvel to come out and apparently with COVID and everything else, I missed it entirely. The latest volume came out in April. So that’s probably next on my list of things to buy.

Will I keep buying comics or will I enter a new break? I don’t know right now. I do know that it’s likely that even if I do take another break, I probably will never stop reading comic books entirely.

As for my mom’s cancer, it was Stage 2, and she needed some pretty exciting surgery for it. She found the lump on Thanksgiving of 1974 and had the surgery on Christmas Eve. She was fairly traumatized by the whole experience and used to go into a depression during the holiday season every year. 27 years later, when I got my diagnosis, I started seeing a psychiatrist so that I wouldn’t end up as emotionally scarred as my mom did. I’m pretty sure it worked.

Oh, and 1974 was momentous for another reason. Not too long after we got back from North Carolina, my mom, who was a preschool teacher, had a very important preschool student. Thomas.

Now, for the Gratuitous Amazon Link. Let’s go for it. Ms. Marvel: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.

The Truth About Belle Gunness, A Reaction

I don’t know if this is going to be a review or not. It’s 11:30 and I have to be up at 7. But I alluded to this book in my last post, so I figured I should update y’all.

I finished it. I’m trying to enumerate exactly why I found this so . . . ungripping. First the truly offensive thing. Elizabeth Smith, an African-American woman, is sort of a sideline character. And every damn time, de la Torre refers to Smith as “(N-word) Liz.” Granted, the book was originally written in 1955, and the past is a different country and all, but still. God gave us editors so that we could fix stuff like that. Just globally search-and-replace that string with “Smith.” I mean, that was her name, and we don’t see another Smith until the trial, where Smith is the surname of the prosecutor, or something. Argh.

There’s a reason why Twain chose that word in Huckleberry Finn and I understand the pushback on changing it. But The Truth About Belle Gunness is not a classic of American literature. It’s not even a classic of the true crime genre. I think that this time it should be possible to engage in a little judicious editing.

Speaking of the trial. Well, I wasn’t really expecting a book on a female serial killer to turn out to be a book on the man accused of killing her. That’s what this turned out to be. The Truth About Belle Gunness is actually the story of Ray Lamphere, former handyman and sex partner of the killer who was accused of killing her and her children and then setting fire to their house. The middle section is basically just trial transcripts rewritten so that they look like dialogue.

Additionally, there is some question about whether the body of the woman was Gunness at all. The body of the woman was found without a head and no head was ever found. Some time later, they found Gunness’s teeth in the ashes, which was apparently enough for the authorities to identify the body as Gunness. The book ends with de la Torre’s supposition on what actually happened. It’s an interesting theory, but she doesn’t back it up with any kind of evidence.

Speaking of editing, I’m not going to have any time to do any here, because I have to be up in a minute.

I’m going to end this with a Gratuitous Amazon Link to a real classic of the true crime genre, The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule. This took me a while because all of the paper copies I could find were so expensive. So I ended up linking to the Kindle version.

What will be my next book? Looks like Kara Cooney’s The Woman Who Would Be King. I have so many books to read. So. Many. Books.

My Life as a Reader, Part 1 of Who-Knows-How-Many

I can’t wait to see how many parts this series ends up having.

I feel like I haven’t been doing enough reading lately. Then I realize that I read blog posts. I read comments to the blog posts. I read thinky articles linked in the comment to the blog posts. I read subreddits I read articles linked in the subreddits. I also am a member of Jenny Lawson’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, so I’m reading at least one book per month. I’m also about 3/4 of the way through one of the least gripping books I think I’ll ever have finished. Assuming I can make it that last 25%.

I’m also going back to reading National Geographics. Probably. I cracked open the latest issue that my dad has given me today, at least.

If I’m going to book-blog while I wait for my opportunity to travel to return, I figure that I should talk about my relationship with the written word.

I actually can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. When the time came to help Alex learn to read, I asked my mom how she taught me to read and she said that, near as she could remember, I just picked up a book and read.

I remember that my mom signed me up for a children’s book club when I was little. It had books like One Kitten for Kim, and Andrew Henry’s Meadow, and Bear Circus. Bear Circus was published in 1971, so let’s say I was five or so.

Oh, and then there was The Mice Who Loved Words. I loved that book. I wonder what happened to all of those books. I hope my mom donated them to her library or something. It would make me happy to think of the kids of my now-underprivileged hometown reading the books that gave me so much pleasure when I was their age.

Then there was The Secret Garden. I often credit The Secret Garden as being the book that made me a reader. I was a bit young, I seem to recall that I was maybe eight* when my mom bought it for me. We went to the Kroch’s and Brentano’s at River Oaks in Calumet City and my mom bought something (I wasn’t really paying attention to what she was doing). She handed me a taped-shut white bag with “Kroch’s and Brentano’s” written all over it and told me that it contained one of her favorite books from when she was my age.

I opened the bag and there was the most daunting book I’d ever seen in my life. It had a few illustrations, but otherwise was just words. As I recall, I wasn’t expecting to be thrilled with it. But I opened the book and started to read.

Suddenly I found myself in India watching Mary, a lonely rich girl, lose everyone around her to cholera. I sat there as she was sent to live unhappily in the home of a clergyman in England, being teased by the children. Then she went to Yorkshire and things began to improve for her.

I fell in love. Both with reading and with the book. The family story, so I’m pretty sure it’s at least somewhat accurate, was that I was sitting in the back seat of the car when I finished The Secret Garden. I told my mom that I wished it hadn’t ended, so she said that I could read it again. I was silent for a long time so she turned around to see what was going on. She hadn’t intended for me to read it right away, but I had taken her literally. I had gone back to the beginning and was reading it again.

Now that I think of it, I’m not sure where my first comic book (Superman #280) fell in relation to The Secret Garden. I think The Secret Garden was not too long before the comic book, but I couldn’t swear to it.

As you can see, my Gratuitous Amazon Link is less gratuitous today. I’ve been doing a lot of Kindle books, what with COVID, but today I chose the paperback for one reason. The paperback has the same Tasha Tudor illustrations as my childhood version (which I reread until it literally fell apart) did. Maybe the illustrator of the Kindle version is amazing. I don’t know. I chose the illustrations I loved.

* I guess I might have been seven if it was before my first comic book.

Dictating Blog Posts, Take Two, Also a Maybe Book Review

So the new app I downloaded was more effective than the last, but still not quite what I was looking for.

On the plus side, it definitely got more words correct than the other one. And it didn’t spontaneously rearrange my paragraphs. So, yay!

On the negative side, the app was designed more for making notes than for long-form dictation. Every time I so much as took a breath, the app would stop taking dictation and I’d need to press the microphone button. And, furthermore, if there’s any way to get those notes off of my phone and onto my computer, I haven’t figured it out.

So, the search continues.

I’m not getting very far on that book on Belle Gunness so I was going to talk a bit about the book I read before that, The Authenticity Project (the easiest Gratuitous Amazon Link ever, maybe because this time it’s not really that gratuitous) by Clare Pooley. Our protagonist is woman named Monica (what’s Monica’s last name? Do we find out? Crap. Now I’m going to have to reread and see what it is*) who runs a cafe in London.

One day at work Monica finds a notebook with the words “The Authenticity Project” written on it. Inside the book are the words of an artist named Julian Jessop who was once fantastically successful but who disappeared from public life 15 years ago. He writes that he feels that people are too busy trying to project this image of perfection and he hopes that people who find this book will use it to tell their truths and maybe that truth will, as the saying goes “set them free.” He tells his future readers that his wife died and afterwards he lost the desire to make art. His friends have died one by one and now he’s elderly and alone.

Monica writes her truth (that despite her financial success at her previous career and her lovely cafe, she longs to find a husband and start a family) in the book, leaves the book in a wine bar, and sets out to improve Julian’s life.

Over the course of the book, we accumulate six POV characters and an assortment of supporting characters and, one by one, we find that maybe their lives aren’t as wonderful as they appear on the outside. But together, they do make something terrific.

The characters were engaging and I loved watching them come together from so many individuals experiencing various forms of loneliness to form a group of friends.

One of the subplots is about how people’s lives always look more perfect online than they are in real life. I don’t know what kind of online friends Pooley has, because my online friends, well, if they’re making their lives look better online, I pity them. One friend, for example, had been struggling to make her marriage work and just as she decided that, as much as she loved him, it wasn’t ever going to work, he died. For real. I’m no longer close enough to her to feel comfortable asking how he died. I think it might have been an accident.

As much as I loved this book, I don’t think it’s one of those that I’d need on a desert island, so I gave it four stars, and I really wish they had a ten-point system, because this may even deserve four and a half.

*I skimmed about 1/3 of the book with no sign of a last name for Monica. I have the idea that it’s Charles. But don’t quote me on that.

Today I Attempted to Dictate a Blog Post

It came out . . . unusual. Let’s see if I can edit it into something more coherent.

So I’m taking a long walk right now, and I’m making my threatened attempt to show how the writing process goes. The last time I tried this software, it took down everything I said twice. I don’t know why. I may have to edit this a lot before I actually make a blog post. (Spoiler: I basically ended up turning this into an entirely different post on similar topics and downloaded a new speech to text converter program to try during my late evening/early nighttime walk tomorrow).

I’m thinking that I’m going to maybe start doing book reviews here too because right now with COVID-19 going on I’m reading a lot more than I’m traveling. I hoped to take Alex to New Mexico last year but I’m thinking this year might be the year. It’s already June but we could do New Mexico in a long weekend. Basically, you know, we could take Friday through Monday off, you know, or any other four days. We could take Monday through Thursday off. So we do the 7 hour drive — that’s the length of the drive to Carlsbad Caverns — we could leave Sunday night at 10 p.m. Arrive in Carlsbad and what would that be 4, 5, or 6 in the morning leave our luggage at the hotel go to the national park for a few hours, come back to the hotel and collapse. Then in the morning do another few hours at Carlsbad and then drive to Capulin, which is an extinct volcano. It’s an even-numbered year, so we need a volcano. We could do the volcano on Wednesday then spend Thursday driving back and that would be get us back to — at that point it’s like a 10 hour drive — so if we get to leave at like 10 in the morning on Thursday we’d arrive back in San Antonio at like 7. This would give us a good night’s sleep before having to be back at work on Friday. Any 4-day stretch like that.

As you know what you know I lost Phobos on May 1. The crematorium that my usual vet uses has a service where they scatter the ashes in the Hill Country. But with the self quarantine and everything I couldn’t get Phobos over there so I have his ashes in a box in my living room. I’m hoping in July or maybe sometime in the fall once it’s cooler (it’s insanely hot right here right now) to find a county that will let me just, you know, scatter his ashes in a pretty spot. Maybe out by Fredericksburg or something. That’s pretty much my travel plans for this year.

I do still need to go back through my travel history. I was in what 1989 (nb I think I’m still in 1988). Then we have our first honeymoon to Indianapolis in 1991 and then our second honeymoon to Florida in 1992. I don’t know what the next time we traveled anywhere would have been. We went to Seattle for a job interview for Thomas in 1995, or was that 1996? And then Los Angeles for the first time in 1996, or was that 1995? In 1999 we went to California but didn’t do too much traveling other than that, since I was pregnant. In 2000, we went California, Chicago, and Florida with Alex. In 2003 we went back to Florida and while we were in Florida we went to Key West and that’s the most recent time I’ve been to Disney World. We also went to went to Toronto for WorldCon. Oh wait. 2002 was England and Paris and Scotland and Wales.

After those 2002 and 2003, I was like if we can’t pay cash for it we cannot go because we put stuff on the credit card and then would have hard time paying it off. Because of that we didn’t really go anywhere. We visited my parents in Florida a couple times and went to my mom’s funeral in 2006.

After the divorce Alex and I started traveling again. 2010 we went to DC. No. 2011 was DC. 2010 was Chicago, 2011 was DC, 2012 was Hawaii, 2013 was North Carolina, 2014 was Italy, 2015 was New York City, 2016 was Yellowstone and Salt Lake City, 2017 was California, 2018 was Arkansas, and 2019 was Stonewall Texas. I really want to get out of the state this year if COVID-19 cooperates. And then I’ll make it to Seattle for 2021 I’ve got the money saved up to do that. I have to write up all those. Actually not all of them because I started this blog in 2015, so I don’t have to do 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018 so 1988 through 2014.

But I won’t have any new content really in terms of like new places I’ve gone for a while, but I’ve been reading books — oh my God — so I think I’m going to start book blogging here because I’ve tried a couple times to make a comprehensive list of all of the books I’ve read in my life, which is kind of fun because I’ve read so many books. My mom was a youth services librarian and had to read all of the books she bought so I’ve been reading kidlit for years, way before Harry Potter made it cool to do this.

And I can’t remember the titles or authors of so many of these books. One book somebody actually dug up the title for me and then the website that we were posting on crashed. The owners were, like, we’re trying to restore it and apparently I think they gave up on restoring it and it’s gone. I’ve even tried looking it up on the Wayback Machine and had no luck at all. The woman who gave me the name loved that book too. But I can’t remember what it was is called.

My most recent attempt to make a comprehensive list is on Goodreads. I have something like 250 books on my Read shelf.

I’ll be honest with you here. I’ve been reading a lot of book reviews recently. Since I’ve joined a book club, I’ve gotten a lot of ads for books on Facebook. A lot of them are for thrillers and I don’t think I’ve read a lot of thrillers, so I’ll have to check that out and see if they’re right. Anyhow a lot of these reviews mentioned something called Netgalley and it turns out that if you’re a book reviewer you can get free Advanced Reader Copies ebooks and I’m like this would be awesome (because the hundreds of unread books I have aren’t enough) So I go to sign up and it asked where you’re reviewing books, like on Amazon or Goodreads or your own blog and I’m like, I don’t write reviews for books on Amazon, though, I kind of just go here are four stars unless it’s bad, in which case it gets three or it’s really bad, in which case it gets two, or it was so bad I couldn’t finish, in which case I give it one. I don’t really give out five star reviews unless it’s a book i would want to take to a desert island with me.

At this point in my dictation, I realized two things: 1. I somehow had missed a street in my walk, and 2. that this software really, really wasn’t working. I decided to keep dictating, though, because of the thing about how if you can talk you’re not overexerting yourself.

Well right now I’m reading . . . What am I reading right now? I’m reading a book about Belle Gunness who died in a fire and who turned out to be a serial killer. I guess we’re going to start the fire and work forward or do a flashback. I don’t know. I’m only, like, 2% of the way into the book.

So, I guess next up is more of 1988, followed by maybe my opinion on the Belle Gunness book?

Oh, and another store needs a pharmacy tech and will pay overtime, so I’m only getting one day off next week. I hope I don’t end up regretting that.

Two Months Later . . . (COVID-19, part . . . I don’t know, five?)

Wow. Time really got away from me.

The most pressing thing is that they’ve opened the city back up and we’re still getting gobs of positive COVID-19 tests. The number for June 6, 2020? 147. Why are we opening up? No good will come of this.

I met with Evelyn for a while today, afraid that there’d be lots of people all spreading COVID. It was 12 million degrees out, so there was basically no one out there to get COVID from. And even if there had been lots of people on the greenways, it’s very hard to get an infectious dose of COVID-19 outdoors anyhow.

And, since it was 12 million degrees, and Evelyn had just come off an 8-day workweek, *and* since one of my warning lights was on and I was afraid that I might be looking at multiple thousands of dollars to repair my car (spoiler alert: I don’t know for sure, but the computer at AutoZone thinks I’m going to get off fairly cheaply), we didn’t stay out long enough to catch anything from anybody, I don’t think.

Speaking of COVID-19, Alex and I had to self-quarantine for almost a week at the beginning of May.

Well, let’s start at the beginning. On April 21, I came home to find one of my two remaining cats was acting like he’d had a stroke. We took him to the emergency vet, who transferred him to their critical care team, one of whom said that it was probably time.

I brought him home for a week, and we gave him antibiotics and nausea medication, and subcutaneous fluids, and I needed to take him back for more bloodwork, so I planned to do that on May 2.

On May 1, Alex woke up with a fever and we scheduled COVID-19 tests for ourselves. While I was getting ready to self-quarantine for a few days, the cat began to have seizures. My own vet and the other critical care vet all agreed that it was time.

And so, I had to watch my baby be put down on Skype rather than being there with him at the end. Damn virus.

It took five days to get my results back. Five. Days. Alex and I were both clear, of course. Otherwise this story would’ve started saying that Alex and I had to quarantine for at least two weeks when we had the virus.

And now we’re opening the city back up.

June 6th’s 147 positive tests would’ve been administered on or around June 2. And those 147 people would’ve gotten it somewhere between May 19 and May 26. May 26 was Memorial Day, and lots of people have parties, so maybe this is an isolated event just because of Memorial Day.

I really do think it’s too early to open up. I’m afraid that things are going to get sharply worse and we’ll be seeing numbers much higher than 147 in the next two weeks. And then the cases from people being crowded together at the protests will start rolling in.

We’ve had over 3,000 cases in San Antonio so far, but I’m scared that soon we’ll be finding out just how lucky we’ve been.

Exercise and Immunity (COVID-19 series)

I was on a real roll there for a while, wasn’t I? Well, I’m not sure if what I have to say at this point is enough for an entire blog post or not.

San Antonio is, like most of the rest of the country, encouraging people to stay home as much as possible. “As much as possible” gives one quite a bit of wiggle room, however. Acquiring food, for example, is one of the things one can leave one’s home for. That includes both grocery shopping and going to restaurants. Restaurants are allowed to have drive-through and curbside service. Getting one’s car fixed is included, as is medical care, and, of course, one is allowed to go out if one is an essential worker.

Then there is outdoor exercise and recreation. They have closed the places where people have to be close together, like playgrounds and basketball courts, but the walking paths and greenways are open, and if you’ve been on my blog very long at all, you know that I spend a lot of time on the walking paths and greenways. I have *never* seen as many people there as I have in these last couple of weeks. We’re able to keep a proper social distance from one another (I admit that I had to step off the path a couple of times to get six feet from family groups a few times during my most recent walk), so this is wonderful to see. And when I drive to and from work, I see people jogging, riding their bicycles,* walking their dogs, riding skateboards, I’m really impressed. It is, as the man said, an ill wind that blows no one any good. Hopefully and the people of San Antonio will end up healthier than they used to be.

And there are proven links between exercise and immune response. My oncologist told me that I should exercise for at least half an hour at least five days a week in order to benefit from this connection. If all goes as planned. I should be cancer-free for a long time on this plan. While pondering this post, I even found that there is a journal specifically dedicated to the connection between exercise and the immune system — Exercise Immunology Review. I’m tempted to subscribe. And my mom said that I’d find scientific writing to be dry and boring. (I literally rolled my eyes as I typed that.)

Well, I guess I had enough in me to write a short blog post. I’m thinking about branching out into a medical blog and/or a book blog. If I could get my brain together enough to alternate among travel, medical, book, every day, I’d get 10 posts per month. I’m not sure what I’d do for the Gratuitous Amazon Link for each.

Speaking of Gratuitous Amazon Links, where was I? I completely missed the last post. I was starting on Ally Carter, so here’s the first book in her Heist Society series, called um, well, Heist Society. This is Carter’s international art thieves series and it’s awesome. There are three books in the series and I certainly hope she’ll keep going on that series.

*One of my coworkers was riding her bicycle last week and she fell off and broke her foot. She is now having to take a three-week leave of absence.

Pokemon Go and COVID-19

With so many people in isolation, or quarantine, or social distancing due to COVID-19, Niantic has had to change up some of how Pokemon Go plays.

To begin with, they postponed March’s Abra Community Day. This was frustrating for me, personally, because one of my coworkers had asked me to work for her the day that Community Day was originally scheduled. I finally worked out a way I could do both (by eating Granola Bars for my lunch hour while getting at least some Abra caught) and agreed to do it. However, the activity that my coworker wanted to do was cancelled because of the virus, and so she didn’t need to trade after all.

I got to enjoy the idea that I would be able to do Community Day for, like, 12 hours before they announced that they were postponing Community Day indefinitely.

As areas started being locked down, Niantic made changes to gameplay. They sold boxes of 30 incense for 1 coin (I bought one immediately, but haven’t used any — more on that later), increased the number of gifts one can carry to 20, changed it so that every Pokestop or gym you spin gives you a gift, and halved the amount of time it takes to hatch an egg. There’s something else, but I can’t think of it right now.

Oh, along with the postponement of Community Day, they’ve canceled Raid Hour until further notice. Wednesday (the day of Raid Hour) is the only day I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be out early enough to socialize with my Pokemon Go friends, so that’s a bit of a bummer.

Now, as a pharmacy technician, I’m an essential worker. This is good news for me financially, and potentially bad news for me as a living, breathing, human being. You see, my job puts me at elevated risk (not nearly as high as for hospital personnel working with COVID-19 patients, of course, but higher than average). I have mild to moderate asthma, so I’m at ever-so-slightly elevated risk for serious effects from COVID-19 if I do catch it. So maybe someone here is looking for information on me after my unfortunate demise from COVID-19, in which case, “Hi! I washed my hands really excessively and tried really hard not to touch my face and worked really hard to keep at least 6 feet from anyone else and got moderate exercise to stimulate my immune system and apparently that wasn’t enough. Sorry!”

And that’s why I haven’t used any of my incense and why I spend one of every two coins I earn from holding gyms on Poffins. Because I may get this thing and I may have a very bad time with it. If I feel well enough to even mess with my phone, the Poffins will give me six hearts per day (double hearts for feeding my buddy) for five days so that’s 30 hearts right there, and if I can keep from getting it until after . . . Tuesday? that’ll be a sixth Poffin. If I feel well enough to actually play, then that’s 50 hearts with Poffins (six per day for feeding my buddy plus two per day each for playing with and photographing my buddy) plus another 24 for 12 days of play with your buddy and take a picture of your buddy for a total of 74 hearts? and I can burn two incense per day during my confinement. And if I can hold off on getting it until they have a vaccine or a treatment, well, then I have extra supplies.

However, since I don’t know whether I’m going to get it at all, and don’t know how I’ll fare if I do get it, I’m taking full advantage of the fact that I go out into the world and I go to the park to collect my full 20 gifts almost every day (I only got 18 today, however), so that I can make sure that any one of my friends who is not an essential worker or who lives in an area that’s really locked down gets supplies regardless of whether they can get to a Pokestop or gym.

By now, I also can, ironically, work Community Day (whenever it ends up happening) because I’ve kept my Abra as my buddy since March 4 or 5 (I see announcements of Abra Day both days) and I now have over 300 Abra candies. That’ll be enough to evolve my buddy and a shiny (25 candies to evolve an Abra to a Kadabra and another 100 for Kadabra to Alakazam) and I’m getting close to being able to evolve a third Abra, so I don’t need to catch Abra the whole three hours. I mean, it’d be nice to be able to do so, but I don’t have to be able to.

So, in short, three cheers to Niantic for making Pokemon Go easier to play for those in locked down areas. I don’t have COVID-19 yet, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t get it. I may make a kind of political post next complaining about the rates of testing (maybe with a side order of body horror about the testing process?) because that’s the freakiest part of this whole thing. We don’t know who has it. A week ago today, one of my coworkers took a script from someone who told her that he’d had a positive test *after* handing her the script. We had a guy with a bad cough today, too, and ended up disinfecting everything in the area after he left.

But, for now, it’s bedtime. See y’all tomorrow, probably.

ETA: Wow, I really screwed up the math last night. I think it’s correct now, though.