One Hundred Percent Standard Deviations

Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges.

-the latest #SpamCompliment. It was attached to my Days All Strange and Vague post, which made me laugh harder than I probably should have.

I still haven’t finished the sweater. Or started watching American Gods.

I’m still doing 50 hour weeks, and the week before school let out for the summer, I had a surprise week-long business trip to Texas. Surprise! But that trip worked out for the best in some ways I can even talk about. I found a pair of cowboy boots that fit me1, a pair of sturdier dress shoes3, and I got to see Wonder Woman in 3D IMAX glory without having to wait for it to go digital. It was a lot better than I expected it would be. There were consequences. A fair number of characters had an approximation of agency. And thank whomever, things still blew up. I was mostly worried that all the explosions would be in the trailer, and the rest of it would involve a lot of standing around and sighing about man’s inhumanity to man while looking wistfully into the distance.4

I finished my Goodreads challenge six months early, thanks to a book I had to read for work.5 I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

I’m also behind in one of my classes, somewhat ironically, since it’s because of ten pagesish of writing, while I’ve produced a few hundred or so for work since my last post. However, I finished another class last week, so I — in theory — should be able to catch up.  In theory.  The Summer Camp Shenanigans start next week, so I will be spending a lot of time in the car, and becoming very good friends with the laptop I’m still not 100% sold on, despite having had it for a year.


1Which were legitimately necessary, since all I’d packed were sandals for the plane ride, dress shoes for work, and workout shoes for ridiculous ambition2, none of which would have fared well during my unexpected opportunity to go out on location to visit one of our video shoots.

2Which wasn’t so ridiculous: I kept myself on Eastern Time for the trip, and by doing so, had enough time to get in a couple of morning workouts. Workouts now make me feel better.  That is so deeply wrong in a way I can’t … yeah.

3Texas is definitely hard on shoes. On day two, I cracked something inside my right dress shoe that made the whole thing shimmy when I walked like it was going to break in half. Fortunately, I found a Dillard’s. I hate shoe shopping (that I have wide feet doesn’t help), but I can always find something in a Dillard’s shoe department. Always. Fortunately for me, Dillard’s isn’t convenient to where I live now.

4Sadly, there wasn’t enough Etta Candy. I felt like most of her arc was chopped in order to save time. I’d love to see one of her descendants turn up in a fixer role for Diana in the modern era movies. Oh, maybe Leslie Jones playing a disgruntled US Air Force Intelligence officer turned hacker/security specialist?

5The survey claimed my Strength Themes are 1) Restorative, 2) Strategic, 3) Learner, 4) Achiever, and 5) Individualization.   The MBTI also keeps claiming I’m INTP.  I haven’t yet found an assessment that’s come back with “She’s odd, but mostly harmless.”

Ninety Percent Thresholds

I still haven’t finished the sweater. To be honest, I haven’t worked on it at all. I was going to during the last two episodes of The Expanse, but I was so fried when I watched them that I didn’t need anything to do with my hands. American Gods debuted recently, so maybe I’ll get the sweater done when I get around to watching the episodes.

If that doesn’t work out, there’s always hope that it’ll happen during Suits or Killjoys — assuming I manage to watch the new seasons when they come on. To be honest, it’s rare that I watch more than one season of a series, and not unusual that I stop watching one right before it gets to a season ending cliffhanger. Pretty sure that would have happened with Season One of House of Cards if @bhoneydew and I hadn’t just binged it one weekend while we were sick.

I haven’t seen any episodes after that, even though I enjoyed House of Cards very much. I just can’t get myself in the right frame of mind to invest the time.

I’m still not sure what’s happening with my Goodreads reading challenge. Despite everything that’s going on1, I’m still way ahead of the curve. If I succeed in my devious Mother’s Day plan to read all day (after I finish my homework) and not look at anything work-related, I may even finish it!

1I’ve been working 50-hourish weeks for the past three weeks, while juggling my night class, Momming and this weird new peace with eating right and working out. Sadly, the good sleep habit I’ve been trying to cultivate did go right out the window — notice when I’m working on this? — but I’ve been cranky about that instead of just resigned2 so there’s hope for me yet.

2I haven’t been working on any creative projects. Seriously, the time I’d ordinarily put to that, I’ve been trying to put toward household foo. It’s not that I’m avoiding creative projects, it’s just that the household foo needs to be dealt with. It’ll get better. Eventually.

Low Bars

This is not a post about Halloween. It’s best that I don’t talk about how Halloween is going right now, or rather, not going. This year was supposed to be the year where we had our patio and fire pit finished, so we could have little monsters traipsing safely across our backyard instead of negotiating the dark spots and trip hazards to get onto our porch.  Preparations for this started in April, and were supposed to take three weeks. Three! Weeks!  Notice how Halloween was not moved to Spring this year!  We were finally supposed to get the gas line run and everything hooked up today — but now there’s a problem with the permit, namely the County can’t find the one for the fire pit, and is questioning if one was ever obtained for building it, never mind that they’d already inspected it when they checked the landing and the patio back in early September…

Like I said, it’s best I don’t talk about how things are going wrong with my favorite holiday in this year where everything else is going wrong.  Not that the patio’s the only thing to go wrong:  haven’t decorated, haven’t carved any pumpkins, haven’t … arrgh.

My goal for today, work willing, is to put candy out in a bucket on the lawn and just not be here tonight.  Just not. I don’t want to deal with being repeatedly asked why we didn’t decorate this year.1

Like I promised, this is not a post about Halloween.

2016challenge

12 Books, Two Months ahead of Schedule.

Yeah, that happened last week.  I am both proud of myself for completing this year’s Goodreads reading challenge two months ahead of schedule, and embarrassed that I set the bar so low in the first place.

You see, when I was a kid, I used to read everything that was nailed down, and most things that weren’t. I didn’t start developing discriminatory tastes until I got older; when I was around my son’s age, I was reading beauty magazines2 side by side with nursing textbooks3, and a juvenile Heinlein in the same can’t-check-out-more-than-three-books-at-a-time-Shai library stack as a fat Herman Wouk and James Clavell (or The Silmarillion stacked with The Captains and The Kings and Gone With The Wind3 … or The Book of Skaith if GWTW was checked out.)

As an adult, well…

Okay, I still read everything that’s nailed down and most things that aren’t. Unfortunately, far more of everything is now articles, research reports/white papers, RFI/P/Qs, blog posts and lordhelpme Facebook shares5 than it is books. So, very likely I am reading the same amount of material that I used to, perhaps even more, it’s just not…

It’s not the same.  It aggravates me. Perhaps next year it’ll aggravate me enough to do something about it. Hey, it’s possible! I got aggravated enough at my lack of fitness this year to start working out with a trainer, and now I’m able to keep up with the Monster on his Cross Country days.6

In case you were wondering what books I read this year, here’s the list:

Plot Perfect, by Paula Meunier
Level Up (Fandom Hearts: Book 1) by Cathy Yardley.
A Bitch Called Hope & Betting Blind (Lennox Cooper #1 & #2) by Lily Gardner
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior
Best Served Cold, Red Country and The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

On second thought, maybe I haven’t developed discriminatory tastes after all. These are still a fairly random mix.  The only pattern I’ve noticed emerge is that I tend to alternate fiction with non-fiction/reference.

Bhoneydew’s been after me to read Scalzi’s Redshirts next, which I might do after my networking class ends — which coincidentally, is around the same time my current massive work project wraps. I think I will need something to stop the bleeding from all the holes in my mind once those two things get yanked out of it. Some of my penguins like the idea of my adding Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy to the fiction side of next year’s reading challenge, so I might do that too, even if their agreeing on anything is a little disturbing.  I’m not sure what to read next in non-fiction, though Jane Ziegelman’s A Square Meal:  A Culinary History of the Great Depression looks fascinating.


1Because the house is always decorated for Halloween. Never with tombstones and smoke machines or zombies erupting from the ground or such things, but it’s always festively lit even if it is draped with fake spiderwebs and spiders.
2Because my aunt had left them at the house.
3Because my aunt had also left them at the house. I grew up in a household that never gave or threw books away, and married a man with a similar disposition — so our son has access to all sorts of books, plus the access to bookstores (and yes, Amazon) that neither one of us had as kids.
4Hands down, this is still one of my favorite novels. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the movie:  I think it scrubbed more warts off Scarlett O’Hara than it should have (e.g. she more-than-less abandoned her first two children, who weren’t even mentioned in the movie) in order to make her seem more conventionally appealing.
5Even though I spend more time blocking or hiding Facebook shares these days than I do reading them.
6I set a low bar for that too: get butt to gym, don’t fall on face or pass out during session, remember to drink your water. Yep. That’s my bar. If I clear that each week, everything else is cake. Umm … delicious caaaaake.