What I like about The Donald

I've been watching the news and listening to The Donald (Trump, in case anyone's wondering) go on about war heroes and illegal immigrants and bad trade agreements.  It's great theatre, isn't it? And that hair... wow. 

At first, he was a joke.  Then a dangerous joke.  Now? I'm not so sure what he is, except that without explaining anything about his real policies, he's sucking up everyone else's political airtime.  It's genius, when you think about it: say a bunch of crazy, off-the-cuff things that sound even more outrageous when you try to explain what you meant ("I like people who weren't captured" - what does that even mean?!) and sit back and enjoy the coverage.  Forget coming up with anything concrete about how you would do anything, or what your ideas are, just do that. 

But that's only part of why I like The Donald.  He's so unabashedly himself, no political advisers carefully crafting the message in sight.  And the wealth!  Remember waaaay back when, when President George H.W. Bush was accused of being out of touch because he didn't know the price of milk?  That's not a question The Donald will be answering, because we all know he has no idea.  Mitt Romney, and before him, Ross Perot, tried to play the just folks card, too.  It didn't work.

We all know he's not "one of us", just plain folks trying to make a living.  Let's face it, he's the embodiment of the American Dream, the when where Daddy gives you a large starting-out gift ($10 million, in this case), not the one where you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, a la any of Horatio Alger's heroes.  The Donald has been a reality tv show since well before the genre started, with the wives and the gilded lifestyle and the knowledge that no one (no one!) does it bigger, better and with less plausible hair than he does.

Do I think he's a viable candidate?  No.  Can anyone, even those who are "liking" him in the polls, really see him being statesman-like?  He's far more likely to tell a foreign dignitary "you're fired" than to work out a deal.  Or see him as Consoler in Chief, speaking words of wisdom and comfort after some tragic event? And as much as we might want someone who speaks their mind, he's a little too much for us.

But as pure theatre, I'm enjoying The Donald Show. 


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A very good quarter, reading-wise. I even got to read some from Mt. Bookpile, not just ARCs and new stuff. According to my self-imposed goal, I ended the quarter two books ahead of schedule. That's great because the next month will be filled with travel and Big Life Changes so I'll end up behind.


Children's/Young Adult 





Speculative Fiction


By the numbers

WOOT! When I first started tracking Mt. Bookpile on GoodReads, it was 341 books high (that was in July, 2007).  As of today, Mt.B has shrunk to a mere 241 books - which to the untrained eye appears to be about 12.5 books a year.  However, to the trained eye, it's amazing I've even gotten that far down, and should only take about another 20 years to completely demolish it.

For some (Things One through Three, for example), 12.5 books a year would be amazing.  For me?  Well... Turns out that since then, I've gotten 1921 books (not including library books I've borrowed).  And I've read 2060 books, an average of 257.5 books a year.  So basically, if I don't get another book again, I've got enough to cover me for a while before I start re-reading.  Some of those books will take considerable longer than others, like the Trollope set I have, or books like Wrought With Steadfast Will and Vanished Kingdoms.  So maybe two years of reading, give or take.

On Thursday I head to ALA's Annual Conference.  What are the odds I don't return with books?

About a year later I started the Killin' Time Reading blog, which now has 1671 reviews.  The discrepancy in numbers is that I don't review books on the blog that I've been asked to review professionally or that I read for a book award.  YA books outweigh the Adult books for obvious reasons, with what I've taken to calling "YA Speculative Fiction" the overall winner.

I wonder what all this will look like in another eight years.  Check back then, ok?


I just have to rant

The network TLC has gotten a lot of bad press thanks to the presence of child molesters on two shows (ok, one wasn't on the show but he was around the show and dating the mother of a child he molested).  They did the semi-responsible thing and pulled the shows from production; the responsible thing would to have also offered additional counseling to the victims, and to have come out with a strongly worded statement about how disgusting the behavior of these men was.  Even worse, the parents and sisters of the most recent example are defending him.  It just makes my skin crawl.

Years ago, in high school and college, there were teachers/professors we knew were more friendly than they should be, that there were some who had inappropriate relationships with students.  True or not, things were different then and we didn't get as upset about the abuse of position and trust and all that as we do now.  I'm not defending, just sayin'.  I had a friend who was raped, which was a very different thing than a professor having a fling with a student.

Most schools, if not all, have training in two things: how to avoid/be aware of sexual harassment, and what it means to be a mandated reporter.  That means if we see something, we have to say something. Optimally, it means that if you see something or are uncomfortable about something, you can talk to one of the people at school who are empowered to investigate the event (obviously, you can always go to the police or CPS/DCF if it's that serious).  Twice I've seen schools fail this duty.

Once was when a potential candidate came and was teaching a computer science class, cracking jokes about testosterone in the room and generally putting down women.  He continued to do this in other interviews, and one teacher brought the matter to the attention of the appropriate person at the school.  The response? It didn't matter.  Readers, they hired him.  Over the objections of several female faculty based on sexist comments, and several others based on incompetence.

And now there's a teacher who has sent somewhat inappropriate texts and other communications (like posting online) to a student.  The student has told a few adults and was promised something would happen.  One adult lied and said this had been reported to the authorities.  This isn't the first time this person has responded in a questionable manner, and the problem is I really do like them so it's difficult to not say WTF????  Another teacher, one who knows the student far better and has direct knowledge of the communications, reported to the outside authorities, but apparently all this doesn't rise to the level of criminal activity.

Ok, I get that, and I'm not upset about that.  Sleezy and poor judgement aren't criminal.  But that the school doesn't seem to be doing anything else bothers me.  Of course, something could be being done, for example mandated training in appropriate relationships/communications with students.  Or ensuring that this teacher isn't alone with students until everyone is sure that there's no danger to the students.  Or something else.  And you know what?  It's not my business to know what's going on behind the scenes.

What's upsetting is that the teacher who did report and the student are left with the impression that this is not a safe space.  And that's inexcusable.


Meeting Musings

Today was a bittersweet Meeting, as we gathered not just for worship but also to say farewell to our outgoing Clerk, who is leaving for a new life in Santa Fe.

The weather was gorgeous, so many of us opted to sit outside; there were three who sat inside the Meeting House.  Because our Meeting is so small, whomever is the Greeter is also in charge of starting Meeting, bringing worship to a close and for bringing the snacks for our post-Meeting gathering (lighting the stoves and trying to warm the building are wintertime tasks).  Usually that person leaves with about 5-10 minutes to go, heats up the tea water, and then comes back to let us know that it is the rise of Meeting.

Today, our Greeter left to start the water, and the rest of us kept our silence.  Suddenly, coming out of the Meeting House, came an electronic chime.  Then, eerily, Siri's voice saying, "I'm sorry.  I do not understand the question."

Needless to say, that broke up Meeting as we all chuckled about the coincidence and the aptness of the comment.  And some of us wondered, what does Apple know that we Quakers don't?


We must be related!

As an adoptee, there are times when you look at who your family is and try to find things that look familiar: someone's nose, for example, or your affinity for math, or your allergy to pinecones.  When we find something like that in my family, my mother is apt to exclaim, "We must be related!"

It may have come up earlier in this blog, but I cannot sing.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I can vocalize on some sort of melody, and sometimes even hit the notes that the other person is singing.  But usually I'm off, either by a painful lot or by a niggling tone or two.  My neighbors must have loved me, because I do like to sing... I just shouldn't.  Ever.  In public.  Or private.

Thing One is a very patient person, and over the past nearly 28 years has put up with a lot.  Including my unique brand of song stylings.  I have a rather large knowledge of lyrics and frequently enjoy inserting them into the conversation when we're watching tv.  Last week he mentioned that I seem to have only one tune with innumerable lyrics.  Now, that's not exactly true, there are more tunes.  It's just that the I hear in my head is never the one that comes out my mouth (when I'm singing a cappella) and usually isn't even close to what the original singer/composer intended.

Apparently my mother's mother used to play a game with her children where she'd hum a tune and make them guess the song.  In her mind she'd be humming, say, "Strangers in the Night" and yet somehow it never made it past her lips to anything recognizable.

I've never met the woman, as she died when my mother was 13 (or, as I like to think of it, when I was -12).  Despite that, we must be related!

And if Thing One (or any other Thing) is reading: I'm still gonna sing.  Bring earplugs.



Every five years, for the past 35, I've been getting together with my high school classmates (not all 105 of them, but as many as 30 at a time).  It's called Reunion, and this weekend is my 35th.  Gulp.

For the past few times, we've gotten together in one big sharing circle and talked about where our lives are, what we're proud of and unsure about.  So I've been thinking about what's going on now, what was going on five years ago, and how I feel about all that.

Overall, I have to say, life is pretty good.  Yes, there's the acedia to deal with, and no, my job isn't giving me the satisfaction and warm fuzzies I'd like to have.  My health is better than it was in my 40s, but my parent's health is on a downward slope.  Financially, things are not great thanks to the albatross is the House I Own But Don't Live In (that better change by this time next year!) but they're far from dire.  My friendships are good, solid friendships; my culture vulturing has lessened but that's ok as I can't do late nights as much as I'd like.  Reading? Well... as of right now I'm 3 books behind on my 2015 goal (a couple of good weekends should take care of that).  But overall?  Can't really complain.

Go me!


Send in the trolls...

Time and time again, I see something in the news (or on the web) and have thoughts that run seemingly countercurrent to what prevailing opinion is - sometimes it's my belief/values that are different, sometimes by virtue of age and having seen it before, sometimes because who has the energy to get that worked up over something.  And each time I think, "I'm going to blog this!"

But then I think of the trolls.  I'm sure there are those who would defend my position and thoughts, but the trolls would also be there.  And who needs trolls?  It used to be that you could relatively safely share your opinion and people would either read and agree or read and disagree or read, disagree and stop reading in a huff.  But now it's like everyone feels entitled to comment, and not just on the opinions but on the person.  They're entitled to issue death threats, or make comments about rape, or my looks, or my intelligence, or simply be so nasty that Mean Girls look like Mother Theresa.  I read stories (or hear about books like So You've Been Publicly Shamed) and wonder what the hell is wrong with our society when this is normal.

Who needs that?  I'm too damn old to be dealing with childish interactions, but I'd be forced to.

One such troll, several years ago, forced me to turn on comment moderation.  Doesn't help that I knew who it was, that I could ask them to stop.  It could happen again, right?  And from someone I don't know.

That's part of the reason blogging has been so light, while my head has been filled with thoughts about so many things going on.  Maybe the thing to do is to take this private, so I could comment, knowing that those of you who chose to follow and interact would be respectful - even while disagreeing.  Maybe...


Things that go snort in the night

As a rule, I'm a very light sleeper.  My father's snoring, heard through the double wall of closets, could keep me up.  Thing One and Thing Two snore horribly, leading to separate bedrooms and sleepless nights.  My sister reported that at times, when we shared a room/bed, she'd check to see if I was still alive because I was so quiet and still.

For a very long time I've known that if I'm lying on my back, I make distressing noises.  Imagine my chagrin to learn that - only at times when my sinuses are stuffed - those distressing noises can come when I'm on my side.  Last month, while on vacation (in my favorite city) not only did I make those noises but... I kid you not... yelped.  I woke myself up, but also woke up poor Thing One.  Yelping.  In my sleep.  Five times.

This morning, during my post-Herd feeding snooze, I heard snorting.  It wasn't coming from my Big Boy...

No wonder I need a nap.  And earplugs.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

No foolin' - 77 books read this quarter.  Apparently I'm keeping up with my 2015 goal, but there may be a Big Life Change later this year so who knows what will actually happen.  You know where to go for reviews, right?

Children's/Young Adult