Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zombie Rats Like Toes

"There's definitely something by my feet. Come on, don't tell me you can't hear it."

"Yes, I hear it." I waited a few seconds before informing my brother, "It's a zombie rat. It wants to eat your toes."

In other news I discovered that I can happily try to freak my younger brother out by describing zombie rats and zombie Cthulhu to him, but the moment I mention Weeping Angels I only succeed in creeping myself out. No idea why I fixated on zombies, though. Yes I was just at  horror convention, but zombies have never really been my thing and they weren't particularly a thing at the convention either.

Oh, and also another whispered part of our conversation several minutes later...

"There's definitely something out there!"

"Yes, I know, it's by my feet."

I still don't know what was by Tall One's feet, or what I heard further away. Quite possibly a (non-zombie) rat by near our feet, and maybe a dog further away. But who knows what we heard in the dark.

The above conversation occurred while we were watching the lunar eclipse last night. It was beautiful, and I think I got some decent photos. But alas, I took them with my digital camera that I hadn't touched in years, and I'm having technical difficulties getting them onto my computer. I hope I can share them soon, but for now I'll leave it at sharing my (unsuccessful) attempts at scaring Tall One with stories of zombie rats.

Oh, and this photo of my camera perched on Tall One's tripod. I'll also share that. Just because I want to share some sort of photo, and I do know how to easily get them off my smart phone.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Homework Horrors

Over the weekend I attended CthulhuCon, a local horror convention. I had fun, met some new people, bought a book, discovered some new music...

...oh, and I did homework.

It turns out that the lounge part of a restroom is a really great place to study. It's not like people will be hanging out there for conversations, so it's pretty quiet. So long as there's decent lighting and a good place to sit, it's actually pretty ideal.

So I did homework. In particular I read Karl Marx, which for some reason my brain doesn't want to understand. I read it, got confused, revisited sections of it, thought I was finally getting it, and began to write the one measly paragraph required of me. But what happened? I realized I had no clue what I was talking about. So I spent about twenty minutes banging my head against a wall (well, not literally) before giving up and moving on to my easier science homework. Which was time consuming, but easy.

Later I revisited Marx, even taking to the internet to see if I could get it figured out. But apparently what I really needed to understand Marx was discussion with another person who could point out the important bits, and I did get in class today, but I didn't get over the weekend. I guess I could have cornered someone at the convention and forced them to discuss Marx with me, but I reasoned I would be undistracted Monday morning and that I could easily come up with something before my afternoon class.

My assumption was wrong, and went into class empty handed. I had nothing to turn in.

The professor's comment? "Next time, just try."

I'm trying (and failing) to not be angry over the apparent assumption that I'm too lazy to do anything at all if something isn't easy, when the truth is that I didn't want to just make bullshit up about something I didn't understand. It doesn't help that I'm also upset with myself since Marx really shouldn't have been that difficult.

I worked my way through Plato, Wordsworth, and Baudelaire. What was so freaking hard about Marx?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Laptops in the classroom

I've finished my first week back to school, and one interesting thing to note is policy on laptops in the classrooms. There isn't any official school policy, as before. Also as before, various professors have different opinions on laptops.

One of my professors appears to have a love/hate relationship with laptops. One of the first things he made clear is that he's a bit hesitant about students using them during class. This is because he does not approve of people playing on Facebook when they should be paying attention to the lesson, since it distracts other students. (It will also distract Facebooker, but he didn't mention that. I guess he figured that if you're going to be so easily distracted that you'll be distracted with or without Facebook.) That said, he doesn't rule them out because people can use them legitly for taking notes. Also, we'll be getting all our readings via PDFs he's emailing us, and he'll let us read them on our laptops instead of printing them out if we really want to.

Another professor embraces laptops and smart phones, considering them valuable resources that can be used to answer random questions that may arise during class. (I've used my netbook for this in the past, and probably will again.) He didn't address the issue of no Facebook and no texting, interestingly. Maybe he just trusts his students to stay on track in class?

I don't recall my other two professors saying a word about laptops. Or phones, for that matter. Which is a bit odd now that I think about it, since I'm pretty sure phones were always mentioned on the first day of class in the past.

It'll be interesting, maybe ten years from now, to see if I can get a student to compare their own experiences to this post. I wonder how much will be the same and how much will be different.

For the record, I'm using a four year old little HP netbook for taking notes. Yes it's old, but I admit to being a tad attached to it, and it still runs decently.

Young woman with laptop

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Summer Prince

I just finished reading a book that will do double duty for both LGBT Month and The Artful Readers Club. It wasn't actually on my list for the latter, but I took so long reading it that I didn't touch anything on that list last month. So the list is about to get altered.

The novel in question is The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I was expecting it to be a light read, and I guess I got bogged down when I realized that it wasn't quite so simple. There are so many layers to the book. I wasn't expecting that.

On the surface it's about a matriarchal country where a king is sacrificed in the choosing of the queen, and it's the story of one of those kings. But it's also more than that.

It's about the nature of art. Love. Family. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Death. Life. Matriarchy versus patriarchy. Politics. Friendship. Loss. Sacrifice. Technology. Reconciling the old and the new. I don't really know how to say more without saying too much.

Part of what caught my attention about the novel was that someone compared it loosely to the Epic of Gilgamesh. When I got excited about "OMG Gilgamesh!!!" I was told that it was a very loose comparison. I acknowledged what I was told, but said I'd have to write about the similarities and differences between the epic and this.

And I'm here to say, this book needs a second reading before I can say anything intelligent on the matter. I suspect it's possible to write a comparison, and two of the names (Enki and Gil) certainly indicate that the author had Gilgamesh in mind, but I'm puzzled. I'm only bothering to mention this because if the person who recommended it sees this post, she'll probably wonder "Yes...but how do you think it compares to Gilgamesh? You said you'd write about that." I still want to, but that'll have to be at another time.

Of course, since this book is part of LGBT Month, I should discuss the LGBT side of things. At least three, maybe four, of the characters are bisexual. They're very open about who they love, and the novel shows different kinds of relationships. One person is married to someone who she is in a committed and closed relationship with, and I'm basing my assumption of her bisexuality on the gender of her previous spouse who she had also been in love with. Two others are in a very open relationship and are definitely into more than one gender. The fourth, whose sexual orientation I'm just guessing at, only has one lover during the book. I've got to say, I like that it shows different possibilities in terms of relationships. That is, some prefer multiple partners, while others are happy with just one person.

One thing I have to address: Any bisexual will notice when reading this book is that the B word is never actually used. That is, no one is ever called bisexual. This is something that is sometimes done with bi characters because of uncertainty how to approach the subject, or because the writer doesn't want to put words into the character's mouth. It's something that irks a lot of us, since refusal to use the B word can be a way of pretending we don't exist. Since any bisexual will be noticing the absences of that word, I want to suggest a different reason for why it isn't used.

This book takes place in the far future (I didn't mention that, did I?) in an imaginary city whose culture is so different from anything I know that I may have stared at the book in shock. I suppose it's possible that the author just didn't want to use the word bisexual, but I prefer to think that in her imaginary world any sexual orientation is considered unremarkable. Possibly even something that they don't have labels for. It's certainly something that's never mentioned.

This is the first art for The Artful Readers Club that I'm actually properly pleased with. It seemed appropriate to rethink how I draw trees for this book.