A Really Short Blog Post

You know how I’m always saying “this will be a short post” and then it never is? Well, I dictated this while being dragged at a run around the block by an anxious dog. So it probably is very short.

Not much new going on my life just dog. Oh, and reading my traditional three books. My current audiobook is A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan. My ebook is The Murmur of Bees by Sophia Segovia and my physical book is Florida Woman by Deb Rogers.

I’m really enjoying all three of these books. Well, of course I’m enjoying A Crown of Swords (Germane Amazon Link #1). If I didn’t enjoy the Wheel of Time, I wouldn’t’ve read it so many times. I mean, I know what all of the surprises are and everything.

The Murmur of Bees (Germane Amazon Link #2) is from Amazon’s annual World Book Day giveaway in . . . 2019? It’s a book about the Morales family and their foundling child Simonopio, who was found as an infant abandoned, covered in a blanket of bees. Simonopio has a cleft palate and a purpose in life that he knows but that he has to wait and prepare for, all while basically incapable of communicating with the family thanks to the cleft palate.

Florida Woman (Germane Amazon Link #3) is about a woman who committed a very fantastical crime. Rather than going to prison, she is sent to a sanctuary where they are rehabilitating rhesus macaques. Strange things are going on there. She hears the monkeys screaming at night, even though the three ladies who run the sanctuary say that no such thing is happening. I hope we figure out what’s going on. This was the July selection for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club and a lot of Jenny Lawson’s choices leave you with a lot to think about. I’m heading towards the halfway mark and I really enjoy it so far.

Oh, and I was just called for jury duty. Thanks to Covid, they’re doing jury duty remotely over Zoom, and the only Zoom-compatible computer I have is my phone. I don’t think I should be doing jury duty on my phone, so I’ll have to see if Alex has a laptop with a camera and microphone that I can borrow for that day/trial.

The Great Gatsby

Next up chronologically in terms of books I read in the past looks like The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Now as I mentioned before my mom was a misandrist and she blamed the men in women’s lives for all the troubles. One of her favorites was how F. Scott Fitzgerald drove Zelda crazy.

This next paragraph is the result of hours of research. I recently had someone say something about how bloggers just bullshit and I literally was “They don’t research everything obsessively?”

From what I’ve read, Scott may have taken advantage of any mental instability that Zelda had. It is possible that her behavior was the result of manipulation and gaslighting on the part of her husband, but it is also equally possible that she had what is now known as bipolar disorder. I have two very good friends who have both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and they do, in fact, act a lot like Zelda is reputed to have acted. And, of course, it’s possible that both are true. That Zelda was unstable and that Scott knew which buttons to push to bring out those behaviors.

I read The Great Gatsby because it’s a classic of American literature and everybody should read it and it’s a fast read and blah blah but also I love Baz Luhrmann’s movies. I wanted to see the Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby, but I figured I should read the book first. As it turns out I haven’t seen the movie yet I. I should do that sometime.

I went on Amazon Prime last night to see if they have it, and ended up watching Marry Me instead. Oops.

Turn out that I’d have to pay to rent it. I did that once and never did rent the movie, so never mind.

One of the funniest things was a review of the movie where the reviewer said that Luhrmann totally misunderstood the message of The Great Gatsby because the movie is this big party and when the party’s over all that’s left is to pick the champagne bottles and cigarette butts out of the pool. Like, everything I had at that point read about The Great Gatsby made it sound to me like that was exactly the point.

Here’s the quote, from Connie Ogle at the Miami Herald: [T]he movie leaves you cold and weary and vaguely disgusted, like you’ve just spent a night of debauchery at Gatsby’s mansion, and now the sun is up, and it’s time to fish the cigarette butts and champagne bottles out of the pool.”

And, yeah, that is how reading the book made me feel. So Baz Luhrmann: 1, Connie Ogle: 0.

I also have a large problem with the show vs. tell of this book. Tell is winning by a lot, particularly when Nick follows up the story of Gatsby’s life with “Moreover he told it to me at a time of confusion, when I had reached the point of believing everything and nothing about him.” When does the conversation happen? We don’t know. At least if we had this conversation, I missed it. There was just the infodump and a sentence telling us when they had had this conversation.

The actual activity of the plot is so fast that you blink and you miss it. Skip the next couple of paragraphs if you don’t want to be spoiled for a hundred-year-old novel.

Nick moves to New York for a job. He ends up living near his cousin Daisy, who has married a gauche nouveau-riche guy, Tom. One of their neighbors is an enigmatic millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who had a romance with Daisy in their younger years and is basically stalking her.

They attend some parties. We find that Tom has a girlfriend, the married Myrtle. They attend more parties. We get long lists of the names of attendees. Gatsby finally tries to get Daisy to run away with him. Daisy hits Myrtle with a car, killing her. Gatsby takes the fall for it. Myrtle’s husband, George, shoots Gatsby in his pool. Nick decides that everyone in New York is a dishonest, greedy, asshole and leaves.

The end.

It’s all very heavy with symbolism, like the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the giant eyes on the billboard, and Nick’s “you can never go home again” philosophy. Which is amusing when you consider that Nick is about to go home.

One of my friends was talking about which circle of Dante’s hell people who preferred Hemingway to Fitzgerald would end up in and I asked for permission to be put in the circle with the virtuous unbelievers because I don’t like either. My friend, amused, obliged. Needless to say there will be no Germane Amazon Link and, rather, we will have the Gratuitous Amazon Link of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, the first book in the Kane Chronicles trilogy.

Warning: Whining and Navel Gazing Ahead

I missed a few days. I mean, if you follow my blog you’ll notice that there’s a few days missing.

I don’t know what happened. I just . . . I’m getting the hang of doing this writing will walking, and I just . . . . It’s been too hot to walk? I worked the early shift on Wednesday and had an appointment with my oral surgeon on Thursday morning. But, with time I’m hoping that this will get easier to do.

I have a theme song for my writing. I’ve sort of ritualized the Daft Punk song Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. I play it when I’m walking just before I start writing. Then I open my copy of Dragon Anywhere software and begin to dictate.

I feel a little short of breath today. I don’t know why. My breathing has mostly been good but today and yesterday I’ve been coughing more than usual, and right now I’m walking uphill. Most of my walks have been pretty level — in my store, at the Riverwalk, so I’m out of practice in walking uphill.

I watched a video about codependent relationships yesterday new channel I discovered called Mended Light which is a therapy channel. I mean, this channel is not a therapeutic relationship, but it’s information on therapy and what kinds of things you might need therapy for. It ends with an invitation to have a consultation with one of their therapists and, of course, if you need therapy they encourage to get it, even if it’s not with one of their therapists. Most of the videos end with Jonathan, the lead therapist saying, “We need your light,” and that’s really uplifting.

I’ve wondered if Thomas and my relationship was codependent, but based on what they say, I think it probably wasn’t, at least on my end. I actually came into this relationship from a very strong place in my life. At the time, my theme song was “The Future’s So Bright,” by Timbuk3. I’ve recently discovered that apparently the song is about nuclear annihilation, but, one in three songs in the 80s was about nuclear annihilation. For me, though, it represented my future as a foreign language translator, living in the city, maybe with a small dog and some adopted kids.

I’d dated a lot, and nearly all the guys I dated were bad news. Liars, cheats, abusers. One was really sweet and looked like a young John Travolta, but he . . . how do I put this? I had to explain a lot to him. He would be, “I’ve heard of this guy who . . .” and then describe someone legit famous like the existence of this guy was news to him. Another guy, every time I said I liked something, he’d tell me how it was bad or wrong. Eventually I gave up and broke up with him. He is apparently now a registered sex offender.

So I’d basically given up on dating. I figured that my best bet was to make my life the best it can be as a single person and if I find someone someday, then I find someone someday, but not to count on it.

So I was in this really strong place. I ended up in a long-distance relationship with Thomas, so I didn’t want to go out of the country for a semester because I barely saw him during the school year as it was. Nearly all of the people in my family who got degrees became teachers, so I figured that would be a good fit. It wasn’t, but I still got fantastic grades, got into the honor society, and would’ve graduated with honors if I’d stayed in school another semester.

I graduated, started on a career track that would’ve led me to becoming a paralegal with a large law firm in Chicago, and married Thomas. Everything was fantastic. Then we moved to Texas.

When we got to Texas, I went into the deepest depression I’d had since middle school. I’d always had a bit of acne, but the climate here made my skin just blossom with cystic acne, which led to massive acne scars.

Thomas had worked with people who’d lived here and they’d led us to believe that San Antonio was a party city. That there were street festivals and things all year. We got down here and there were, like, two festivals — Fiesta and the “Mud Festival,” when they drain and clean out the San Antonio River. I mean, there were more, but no one we had contact with ever told us about them. This was 1993, when you couldn’t just boot up your computer, connect to the Web, hit Google and type in “San Antonio Festivals.”

So my mental image of me getting a job as a paralegal and attending festivals in bodycon dresses was *poof* gone. I did get the paralegal job eventually, though it was in corporate rather than litigation practice, but the festivals didn’t really materialize. And the ones that did, it seemed that it was just “get liquored up.” Woo.

Remember that my experience of drinking is that we don’t do it to have a good time, we do it to mask our misery. Yay.

I’m having trouble remembering what we did on the weekends back then. There weren’t even any parks to speak of. Men’s Fitness magazine, I think, actually ranked San Antonio really low for existence of parks. We visited Friedrich Wilderness Park a lot, but not much else. Well, we joined the zoo and the botanical garden, but didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time there, that I recall.

Even the environment I lived in was depressing. I went from our apartment to a parking lot, to a street, to a different parking lot, to a street, to a parking lot and back to our apartment. What’s not depressing about that?

Where am I? Geographically speaking?

As I’m talking, I’m walking up and down the streets of my neighborhood. I need more steps than usual today, so I’m literally walking up and down the same street, rather than up one and down the other. This is including around the cul-de-sacs and things, so I’ll get more steps that way. I can’t remember if I’m going down or coming back up this street right now. I guess when I get to the end of the street, I’ll know.*

Back to my subject. I was feeling really good about myself and my future and things when I got into the relationship with Thomas. I was in a strong place, feeling pretty self-sufficient, and it wasn’t until the downward slide in Texas, that well, things went downhill.

Well this is a long way of saying that if I had that confidence and feeling that I could be self-sufficient from 1987 to 1992, then that ability is in there somewhere. It’s time to try to get it back. I’m planning to stay in San Antonio another 10 years. Once I’m 65, I can research which schools in which states have which discounts for students over 65 and make decisions then about where I’m going to move to for school.

Again, my plan is to work on my language skills to the point where I don’t actually need the schooling, I just need to get the grades and the piece of paper. Maybe the translation skills training, too, unless I can find it somewhere else by then.

For example, on the beginning of my walk tonight I spent 22 minutes listening to El Ladón del Rayo, the Spanish translation of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (Germane Amazon Link!). I had to slow it down a bit because the translation is in Castilian, and I speak Mexican Spanish. But that’s a good thing. Getting that degree, if I choose Spanish as my specialization, will probably require me to know Castilian, at least to have a passing familiarity with it, and that’s what I’m getting here.

*I was going back up the street.

Little Women

As I said yesterday, I’m going to try for writing about books in the order they were written. Let’s see how how this works out. I’m reading one of Victoria Holt’s old novels (from 1968) and a book from 2015 and it’s been a long time since I’ve read any of the older novels from my younger days . No Hawthorne or Dickens or Twain or anything like that. So I’m going to do Little Women today and then, you know, in a couple of months or years or whenever, I’ll reread a 19th century novel and I’ll have to go backwards to catch that one.

This may take more editing than usual. I’m dictating this while I’m on the Riverwalk, so this is kind of fun. When I dictate a post at home, I’m walking around my neighborhood at night and there’s usually no one around, so I’m more comfortable speaking out loud. I’ve already passed two groups of people now and as a result, I’m speaking really quietly. I’m talking into my phone, so I’m pretty sure they won’t think I’m carrying on a monologue like the street preacher I passed about 15 minutes ago, but still.

Okay now if you live in United States you probably have some familiarity with Little Women. I mean, you might as well if you’re in a different country, but I have to admit that when I was in Italy, I never asked anyone “Hai mai letto Picolle Donne?”

So a little overview of the book may well be in order here. Little Women is the semi-fictionalized autobiographical story of Louisa May Alcott’s family. Alcott had three sisters, Anna Bronson Alcott Pratt (Meg), Elizabeth Sewall Alcott (Beth), and Abigail May Alcott Neiriker (Amy). The girls of the book have similarities with the sisters in real life such as the second sister (Jo/Louisa) being a writer and the youngest (May/Amy) being an artiest.

In Little Women, we start out Christmas of 1863, which is during the United States’s Civil War. The Marches live in Connecticut so they’re on the side of the North, the Union, the Yankees, whichever you prefer. And their father was off being a chaplain during the war. The family had had money at one point but Mr. March had lost their money in a bad business deal and so now they’re living in genteel poverty. They only have one servant left! The horror!

Anyway, the girls have no fashionable clothing and they have to make repairs on the clothing they do have. This doesn’t set well with Meg, who is very envious of the members of her peer group who can buy nice things. The girls become friends with Theodore Laurence, the grandson of the older man next door and we watch their families, one with love but no money, and one with money but no knowledge of how to express their love for one another, interact. We watch Jo attempting to make money from writing, and Amy become the favorite of their rich Aunt March, who helps her get training in her art. Meanwhile, Beth becomes friends with Mr. Laurence, and Mr. Laurence supports her love of music.

The book that we know of as Little Women is actually two books – Little Women and its sequel Good Wives. Little Women ends with the wedding of Meg and John Brook. Good Wives follows the young Brook couple and we also watch Jo and Amy find love. As for Beth? I don’t know if I need a spoiler alert for a book 150 years old, but Beth is too good for this world and dies young.

My mom was in English education major and she had Opinions about this book.

She hated the pairing of Jo and Friedrich Bhaer. She was totally a Jo/Laurie shipper. I can see that, but I can also see the Jo/Friedrich pairing. I ended up buying Jo & Laurie in part of the Germane Amazon Link and also so that I can see the ending my mom wanted.

On the downside, as much as I love my mother, I’m not blind to her misandry. Men scared her and confused her. So anytime something went bad in the life of one of the wives of a writer or a female writer or whatever, it was always a man’s fault. Like with Zelda Fitzgerald. My mom always said that F. Scott Fitzgerald drove her crazy.

She was very angry with Bronson Alcott for failing to support his family and leaving it to one of his children. She may have been onto something.

Bronson Alcott was a dreamer. He wanted abolition and to reform American education and convert people to vegetarianism and a pure way of living in harmony with the land. I mean, these were all good things, but the way he went about them was. . . suboptimal. For example, he tried to found a school without corporal punishment (hitting the students), which is a good thing. However, current sentiment hadn’t yet turned against corporal punishment, and that, combined with an unorthodox teaching style, based more on the Socratic method, where students and teacher converse in hopes of finding truth, which was also not the preferred method. Oh, and before I forget, he didn’t hit his students, but he encouraged his students to hit him, telling them that their failure was because he had failed them. He openly admitted that he was playing on their guilt and shame in doing this. Wow. I’m 110% against corporal punishment, but at least corporal punishment is honest.

Well, Bronson attempted to keep this school going for 10 years and ended up penniless. Then a friend gave Bronson the money to start Fruitlands, a farm dedicated to clean living and rejecting the use of farm animals. You know, like to run plows and things. So the people living there had to push the plow themselves,which is hard work. They also started this farm too late in the year to get a full harvest in by winter, so they almost starved. Fruitlands lasted seven months.

As a result of this lack of practicality on the part of her father, Alcott ended up writing children’s books for the rest of her life because they sold well and she could use the money to support her entire family.

Things I’ve been reading since I started my reread of Little Women indicate that Alcott may have been a transman. Now, I’m reluctant to decorate this post with pink-white-and-blue flags because, well, there was no real term such as transgender back during her lifetime and I really hesitate to sit here in the 21st century and label people based on what they might have defined themselves as today. One of the quotes that supposedly prove their status as a transman was one where they say “I am more than half-persuaded, that I am, by some freak of nature, a man’s soul put into a woman’s body. . . . because I have been in love in my life with ever so many pretty girls, and never once the least little bit with any man.”

Generations of lesbians have seen themselves in this quotation. So was Alcott a straight transman? Were they a lesbian? Were they nonbinary?

I can hear some of you now, ‘does it matter’? And as a straight-passing ciswoman, I say it does. Representation matters. Being able to see yourself in fictional characters and historical figures matters. And seeing yourself in somebody who may very well have been one of the heroes of your childhood really matters.

Book Blogging

I am starting a second blog post for today. It’s July 1 and if I finish this today this should post on July 3, 2022 at 12:30 AM.

I know I go back and forth on whether to make this a book blog. Right now, I’m forth, I think. Like, I’m planning to do some book blogging. I mean I do still want to travel blog here but my hopes to make money from this to pay for travel haven’t materialized and I need topics, so . . .

Now, since I’m going through my Goodreads account, listing books in the order that I’ve read them for my Gratuitous Amazon Links. Maybe if I’m going to book blog I should talk about the books in the order they were written which will be a completely different order from the one were major where my gratuitous Amazon links work. Now at some point I may well end up blogging about the book which would have been my Gratuitous Amazon Link.

Here I took a brief break to go play Pokemon Go. The gym in my neighborhood was empty and I had a chance to leave a Pokemon there.

Anyway I think the oldest books I’ve read at this point are my Nancy Drew books. Sort of. The Nancy Drew series was written in the 1930s and then in the 1950s, they were edited/rewritten. I’ve been reading the 1950s version, but Goodreads has them listed as the books from the 1930s. So maybe I’ll blog about the Nancy Drew series. Or have I already done that? I think I’ve already done that.

I’ll have to go looking for that post and maybe update it with a picture of Riverside, Illinois, the town I picture as River Heights or something. I don’t have any pictures of downtown Riverside that I took myself, because when I went there I was too young to have a camera, but still, I probably have I maybe will find one Wikimedia Commons or a government site the would have it. Something where I wouldn’t have to pay to post it.

As for the next oldest, I don’t know. I’m working on some old Victoria Holt books so maybe those? When was the first Discworld book written? (N.B. 1983, so not even close) I went through a Discworld book reading phase for a while, until I started to burn out and stopped.

I know I’ve read a lot of older books, but I don’t think any of those are listed in my Goodreads account yet. Like, I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Three Musketeers, among other old books, for fun, and I’ve read a bunch of, like, Hawthorne and things for school and I think I’ve lost my mind. The oldest book I’ve read since I started keeping track in my Goodreads account was Little Women, which I just finished recently. It’s been a long week.

So I guess my first chronological-order book post will be Little Women and I can even fold in some travel, since we went to Orchard House in Concord, which is where the Alcotts lived when Louisa May was writing Little Women. W00t!

I hesitate to try to sell y’all a copy of something you can download from Project Gutenberg, so I may need a Gratuitous Amazon Link. I just bought the Kindle book of Jo and Laurie, the fanfiction which ends with Jo and Laurie ending up together. I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews are pretty good. Also that’ll make a good Germane Amazon Link for my Little Women post.

So back to Percy Jackson for a Gratuitous Amazon Link, I guess. The Titan’s Curse, by Rick Riordan, the third book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. We go to the Smithsonian Institution, and to Hoover Dam (the exhaustion-fueled dam pun scene is one of my favorites!) , and to San Francisco. I’ve been to one of those!

I Had My Tongue Surgery on Wednesday

And I’m going back to work on Sunday. At least, I hope I am

Boy, does everything between my ears and my clavicles hurt, though. It’s no fun to eat. It’s no fun to swallow. I have had to let a bunch of saliva drip out of my mouth twice.

For pain medication, I have Tylenol #3 and 400-milligram ibuprofen pills. The surgeon said that I can take the ibuprofen every 3.5 hours instead of every four, and I may have to start doing that.

There’s not much to say about the actual procedure. I was out for most of it. The block they used to hold my mouth open tasted horrible. I remember that much.

So now we wait. We wait for my mouth to heal, and we wait for the pathologist report to come back and see if my margins are clear. It there is any dysplasia in the apparently clear area the surgeon took, I’ll have to go back for more surgery. Fun.

But when I’m 80 years old and looking back on this, I’ll be glad I did it.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! I’ve read three books while convalescing, so I’m going to be able to get ahead a little on my Goodreads account. I’ve been kind of worried because I only have 366 read books, and there’s a bunch that I wouldn’t try to sell through Amazon Associates. Where did I leave off? Crap.

Okay. We were supposed to do the Monster High books by Lisi Harrison next, but it looks like they’re out of print, and not even available as Kindle books. So, onwards, to Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin, by Megan Rosenbloom, which is just like it says on the tin. Rosenbloom, a librarian, talks about the history of books bound in human skin, the rumors regarding them, actual examples of them, and the controversy regarding what to do with the books that they’ve identified (should they be rebound in ordinary bindings and bury the original bindings or left as-is or what?) A very interesting book demystifying a macabre topic.

The City & the City, by China Miéville

I loved this book.

I mean, I really loved it. Like, sometimes a strong ending can raise my impression of an otherwise lackluster book. But a little way in, I told a bookworm coworker, “I think I really am going to like this book.”

A while later, I told a bookworm friend, “This is turning out to be really good. You should check it out.”

Then, when the plot thickened, I told my coworker again, “Yes. This is great.”

And once I finished it, I told someone, “It’s a pity you aren’t a reader; you’re really missing out.”

So I think it’s safe to say that it was great all the way through.

It’s going to be a challenge to give a summary without spoiling too much, so maybe I’ll just talk about what I expected versus what we got?

Actually, first I’ll talk about the inspiration. Miéville’s mother was terminally ill, so she asked him to write a book for her. Most of his books are “speculative fiction,” an umbrella term that covers fantasy, science fiction, and some horror. This was not his mother’s interest, though. She preferred mystery and police procedurals.

And so, The City & The City (Germane Amazon Link!) was born. It is a tale about two cities occupying the same place geographically. I was expecting some kind of interdimensional shenanigans, but instead, they literally are geographically in the same place.

In our world, we have two towns, Baarle-Hertog, Belgium; and Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands*. These two towns are intertwined with one another in such a way that there’s a story (which I have yet to verify) that when they resurveyed the town, they discovered that the front door of a house, and thus the whole house, was in the wrong country. It would have been a bureaucratic mess to redo everything (I know the house would need a whole new address, because the street it was on has different names in each country, and I believe that the residents would even need to have changed their nationalities), so they just moved the front door to a different part of the house, where it would stay in the same country.

So. Think that, but larger. Much larger. Then to make things even weirder, the residents of and visitors to the two cities are not allowed to interact with the other city. They have to “unsee” the other city entirely. The only way to interact with the other city involves crossing the official border, at which point they can only interact with the city that they’re in after the crossing.

In the city of Besźel, Inspector Tyador Borlú is called to the location of a dead body. It turns out that the body was Mehalia Geary, a Ph.D student in the other city, Ul Qoma. Borlú has to investigate this murder without ever acknowledging the presence of the other city. He eventually has to go to Ul Qoma to assist in their investigation of the murder and that’s where an interesting book becomes really fascinating.

:chef’s kiss:

*Back in the days when I thought that Alex and I were going to be able to fly into Amsterdam, travel Germany in a big circle, then go back in through Belgium and back to Amsterdam, the Baarles (?) were on my list of things to visit. And maybe I will be able to do it someday.

On Education (Part 1?)

A while ago, one of my friends posted this meme about how college in the United States is too expensive to waste time with general education requirements. And I do agree that tuition and fees in the United States are highway robbery. Too many students taking out too much in loans and then not being able to find jobs that will help them make those payments is a sin. And it’s not the 18-year-olds who are being told by adults that this is a good way to do things who are the sinners.

My bachelor’s degree is in education, and, as a result, I have thoughts about this meme.

First of all, eighteen is very, very young. Yeah, an eighteen-year-old is legally an adult for most purposes, but in many ways, an eighteen-year-old is kind of a child, really. I mean there are some who are going to school and working full-time and all, but less than half of all teenagers even have jobs, much less are helping to financially support their families.

So many eighteen-year-olds haven’t seen anything of life. People change careers so often, and I suspect that at least some of that may be because we are expected to choose a direction for our life when we’re between the ages of 16 and 20 (16 for those who go through high school career programs and 20 for those who start out undeclared in college and make a decision going into their junior years in the current system). If we took out those two years of general education requirements, we’d be expecting everyone to choose a path when they’re between 16 and 18. Eeek!

Most high schools have way less in the way of educational programs and facilities and such than most colleges and universities. Having those two years can help a kid fine tune their decisions even when they know which direction they want to go. And for those who don’t know, it’ll open up a whole new world of options, including fields they may not have even known existed.

I’m going to end with a small anecdote about my own life. I was a C student in math for most of my life. Part of it was probably that my mom didn’t emphasize math and my preschool didn’t stress number or math skills. Part of it was definitely that I was nearsighted from a very young age and it’s very hard to do well in math when you can’t see the board. Since math is one of those things where one skill balances on top of another, getting off to that bad a start meant that I just kept doing badly. I took a placement test for math in junior college and I needed remedial algebra and so I did it. I retook the same math class I got a C in my freshman year of high school, only this time it made sense. I got an A. I retook the intermediate algebra class that I took my junior year, and this made sense as well and I got another A. So I took college algebra and wouldn’t you know? I got an A there, as well. If my college experience had only been glorified trade school, I would probably still have no confidence in my ability to do math. And that would have kept me from going for the pharmacy technician job. So general education courses really did broaden my horizons.

Where did I leave off on my Gratuitous Amazon Link? Holes? Yeah, why not? I really enjoyed Holes. I heard great things about it, but somehow just never got around to it. And I’m really sorry that it took me so long to get around to it.

Wheel of Time, Season 1 Episode 7: the Dark Along the Ways

Today I will probably spend entirely too much time worrying about how one of my favorite Lan/Nynaeve scenes from the book will play out in the series, and wonder if they’ll just skip it. I will also wonder what Mat would have done in this episode if Barney Harris had returned after the COVID shutdown.

Lillies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island
A bed of lilies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island.

We start out where we ended last episode — with them calling for Mat to join them. After the Waygate closes, they demand that Moiraine open it back up. Moiraine tells them that she cannot because channeling in the Ways is dangerous and that Mat has made his decision.

In service to the medium, Judkins made changes to the way the Ways work. In the books, it is pitch black inside the Ways, but here there’s constant thunder and lightning. This allows the audience to see something of the bridges and islands.

Machin Shin is also different in the series. In the books, it mutters about blood and screams and will rip your soul out if it catches up to you. Here, the voices are individualized — Machin Shin picks up your doubts and fears and tells you that they are true.

They encounter a Trolloc and reflexively Egwene channels and pushes it off the bridge into the void below. This attracts Machin Shin, but fortunately they’re at the Fal Dara Waygate by then. Nynaeve does another amazingly strong bit of channeling and pushes Machin Shin away.

They arrive in Fal Dara and a lot of the things that Machin Shin said to them bear fruit while they wait for the morning so they can head to the Eye of the World.

We meet Min, finally. I mean, we couldn’t’ve met her earlier, because she can see who the Dragon Reborn is. She works in a pub and Moiraine takes the Emond’s Field Four to the pub so Min can read them. She sees stuff that we know is coming, like Perrin as Wolfbrother and Egwene and Nynaeve going to the White Tower. The scene of the darkness trying to swallow up the sparks was more understated than I’d hoped it would be, but you can’t have everything.

One of the things that Perrin heard from Machin Shin was that he killed Laila to be free of her because he was in love with another woman. That woman turns out to be Egwene. Now, if you’ve read The Eye of the World, you may remember that Perrin gets very jealous of Egwene once Aram starts paying attention to her. So, yeah. I don’t think that Judkins made that up out of whole cloth.

Lan and Nynaeve’s romance progresses. She stalks him when he goes to dinner with a family in Fal Dara. He knows she’s there, though, and catches her. Then he invites her to join them for dinner. After they return to the keep, they go to bed together. I was kind of disappointed by this development. I liked the kind of slow burn thing that book Lan and Nynaeve get, but I also acknowledge that Judkins thought that he might only get one season, so I can accept that he’d want Lan and Nynaeve to get together by the end of the season.

Now, for my concern about one of my favorite scenes. That’s when Lan calls Nynaeve “Mashiara.” The book explains “Mashiara” as “Beloved of heart and soul, . . . but a love lost, too. Lost beyond regaining.” And everyone here who’s read the books knows that Lan is counting his Mashiaras before they hatch, because Nynaeve isn’t going to give up that easily, dammit. And I just love that whole thing.

The problem is that we’ve established that Nynaeve in the series doesn’t speak the Old Tongue. I mean, the “Mashiara” scene will kind of lose its punch if she has to go to someone else for a translation. I’m hoping that since she had the conversation about not being able to speak the Old Tongue with Lan, she has been taking lessons offscreen. Then we can get our translation not from someone explaining it to Nynaeve, but from someone (maybe Nynaeve, maybe someone who overheard the conversation) explaining it to another of the Emond’s Fielders.

While Lan and Nynaeve are .. . doing whatever they’re doing, Rand cannot sleep. He gets out of the bed he’s sharing with Egwene* and goes back to the pub where Min works. Turns out that one of the things that Machin Shin told Rand was that he is the Dragon Reborn. We see the scene where a delirious Tam says that Rand is a baby he found. We also see that he channeled to break down the door in Breen’s Spring and that he pushed the Trolloc off the bridge. Or maybe he and Egwene both pushed the Trolloc off the bridge.

Min tells him her first viewing, in Tar Valon. She saw a man who was going to help a woman give birth on the slopes of Dragonmount and take the baby home and raise him in a small village between two rivers and that that baby was something impossible. We watch Tigraine give birth to Rand as Min tells the story.

After this, he asks Min what she sees now and she says that she sees rainbows, carnivals, and three beautiful women. I like this line because if the series had ended there, the three beautiful women would have been Egwene, Moiraine, and Nynaeve. As the series will be continuing, the three beautiful women are going to be Aviendha, Elayne, and Min herself. Well played, Mr. Judkins.

Egwene, Nynaeve, and Perrin join up in Nynaeve’s certainly unslept-in room and decide that they all want to go to the Eye of the World. Meanwhile, Rand has already told Moiraine that he’s the Dragon Reborn and they’ve already headed off for the Blight.

Now, had the series ended after one season, I think that Rand would have won and, since we haven’t introduced the “the blood of the Dragon on the stones of Shayol Ghul” bit, or even the “she’s not for you, nor you for her, at least, not in the way you both want” part yet, Moiraine would have died and Rand would have survived. There’d be some kind of series tag implying, or stating outright, that Egwene and Nynaeve would have gone to Tar Valon and eventually that Rand and Lan would have been their husbands and Warders.

Now, the million-dollar question. Did they completely rework this episode when Barney Harris didn’t come back or what? Because the way it stands, I cannot see how he’d fit in. I guess that maybe he could be off establishing the uncanny luck that Mat has after he’s separated from the Shadar Logoth dagger, maybe? Like, when they’re at the pub he’d head off to a dicing game and when they meet in Nynaeve’s room he’d’ve spent all night dicing and be in a hurry to head to the Eye of the World because the people he’d beaten certainly wouldn’t’ve followed him into the Blight? I guess?

We also see Padan Fain come out of the Waygate and Loial disappears entirely at21:07. Maybe Loial is enjoying Fal Dara’s library. I bet Fal Dara has a great library.

* Several people on the Wheel of Time subreddit are upset about Egwene and Rand having sex together. I’m currently reading The Shadow Rising and when Berelain throws herself at Rand, Rand refers to her as wanting to act as though they’re betrothed. And Egwene and Rand have been promised to each other since they were children.

I’ve Been Reading and Reading and Not Finishing Anything

I mean it. It’s been just. I’m almost done with my reread of Steelheart* by Brandon Sanderson and I’m about 3/4 done with A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane and I only have two hours left on my audiobook of The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan and I’m half done with my reread of Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones and I’m not sure how far along I am in The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Maybe I’m in the middle of too many books.

Well, it kind of makes sense. The only two I’m reading in hard copy right now are A Wizard of Mars and Professional Troublemaker. Steelheart is the ebook on my main phone. The Deceivers is the ebook on my backup phone. The Dragon Reborn is what I’m listening to when I’m driving.

Yes. I have two phones. I got my backup phone in 2014 just before we went to Italy. My previous phone was a Palm Treo and Palm Treo didn’t allow me to make phone calls in Europe. I knew that I’d need to be able to call 113 just in case (I never did, but it pays to be prepared), so I bought a Samsung Galaxy S5. It worked wonderfully for the next two and a half years and I nursed it along for another two and a half (by the end of this period the only way I could upgrade Pokemon Go was to uninstall and reinstall the game). In 2019, I got a new phone, a Galaxy S8. I got a good price on it because the S10 was about to come out.

My account was with Sprint, which is now T-Mobile, and T-Mobile is shutting down the network that my S8 worked on, so looks like I’ll have two backup phones in a bit.

I’m off tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be working on finishing up some of these books. I have plans in the morning and afternoon and might be going out with Alex tomorrow night, but if he isn’t able to make it, I can go for a long walk and maybe finish The Dragon Reborn. I might even finish Steelheart before bed tonight. That’d be nice. Then I’d go on to Firefight, the second book in the The Reckoners series.

*I thought that having six Germane Amazon Links would be about five too many, so I’m just linking to the first one. I reserve the right to come back and link the others in the future.