Travel

A lot of people don’t understand why I am not satisfied with my current employment. I get paid more than I probably ever will again, for a job that is much easier than any job I will have in the future. I have many reasons I am not satisfied, one of the reasons for my dislike is the travel.

I realize it is normal for a lot of couples to spend time away from each other. I hear from some people “that’s healthy”, but not for me. Before this job, over 22 years of marriage I had only been away from my husband for maybe three days at most. Since I started my job in 2014 however I have spent 4+ weeks a year away from him, the pay, the ease of job isn’t worth it to me.

It is probably partially because my parents didn’t spend time away from each other. The only time they did was when it was forced by outside forces (primarily if my dad had to do any time in jail). Other than that, in their entire 46-year marriage they never spent a day away from each other.

I hate being away from him, I would rather work in fast food, living paycheck to paycheck then to spend a night from him. Eventually I will be in a position to change this situation. I won’t wait for some “future date” when all my student loans will be paid off, it will be sooner than later, much sooner.

However, for now at least I have to take a flight this morning to Atlanta where I will stay for five days (one weekend day and four weekdays). I will just be counting down the hours until I can come home to him.

Accidentally Gay

I have had a couple people ask me about my marriage to my husband and his transition status. They were curious why I didn’t talk about it here. That whole subject is pretty intense and I have a separate blog for it called Accidentally Gay (accidentallygay.com). You are all welcome over there as well, but because that part of my life takes up such a big portion of blogging I keep it separate for the most part.

🙂

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (book review)

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (White Trash Zombie, #2)Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Angel is even more fun to listen to in the second book.

The white trash zombie trope doesn’t get old. The story takes up not long after the first book. Elements of the first book reappear in unexpected ways.

Diana Rowland’s storytelling gets better by the book. Angel has moved beyond and grown up since the first book and she didn’t magically end up back in the same situation. In fact the world opens up in some unexpected ways.

You get to meet more zombies, more baddies and some baddies turn out that they may not be so bad. I am happily anticipating the next book even now.

Go read it!

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At the Mountains of Madness (book review)

At the Mountains of MadnessAt the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is perhaps the best example of Lovecraft in his more dry tones. If you are hoping for a first person perspective, down and close to the horror you won’t really find it here. This is the retellings of a crazed survivor, a prime example of Lovecraft’s tendency for that trope. More of an after action report then the actual tale as it unfolds.

Unlike a lot of his other work, this example of his writings does not contain a lot of his problematic views. Other stories are racists, sexist and xenophobic, however here none of that appeared evident.

The writing style is dry though. It takes a peculiar liking for this kind of work for other readers to appreciate it, but for me it had a lot of good building blocks. He had links to other stories in his mythos, and he definitely had a lot of details in the story itself, maybe too many for some people.

You can see though where he inspired people after him. This story could easily fit in the worlds of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and many newer horror authors.

If you like Lovecraft, or any of his inheritors (Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard, Robert Bloch, and others like August Derleth) then this is something you want to read.

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Up From Slavery (book review)

Up from SlaveryUp from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have a lot of respect for Mr. Washington and what he did, however “Up From Slavery” was at best a disappointment, at worst tragic if he really believed and thought the way it seems in the book.

The book itself wasn’t written as a book, it was written as a series of writings/essays/etc. He received feedback and criticism as he had them published and you could tell in the book how some of the tone and what he talked about shifted.

I liked the first portion of the book, recounting the life as a child slave and then how he went to get his education and the struggles he faced. I was a bit caught off guard about the rosey glow he gave that time of his life, but I didn’t think too much about it until I got further in the book.

The portions I didn’t like were more numerous.

First and foremost I disliked how he talked about other African Americans in general. There was a lot of innuendo that they tended to be lazy and how unlikely they would to get ahead without “hard labor”. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is value in labor, but it felt like he was infantilizing/putting down black people. As he got further in the book it was even more apparent, and my assumption is the later parts of the book were his views after criticisms from some of the white people he knew.

Second, I disliked how there was constant reference to the white people in his life and how they always saved the day. Never a negative word, and in places almost an unnerving obeisance to those people. He stressed the generosity of the white people far more than any positives from his own.

This all wraps up in Washington’s silence about the brutality and cruelty of slavery. He even at one point in time mentioned that the black man got as much out of slavery as the white man and made the black man more capable of himself. In addition the simplistic almost happy way he talks about his experiences as a child under slavery stunned me as an almost complicit about slavery feel.

He even mentions once that the Ku Klux Klan was gone forever. He never once mentions the disenfranchisement of his people, the lynchings and second class citizen status. I have a hard time believing that he never suffered from it himself since he didn’t come from money. That is until I got to the last half of the book.

The last half of the book gave me an idea of why he might have written all about this, in this manner. The last half of the book reads more like a person campaigning for donations for his school, and at that time the most likely place to get money would be from rich white people. If you take that pessimistic view, then the book makes perfect sense. It gives a little bit of background without offending the whites who he is seeking donations from.

That doesn’t make him a bad person. His drive to educate his people was unquestionable and if this was his way to try and gain more donations for them then I can’t blame him at all. That being said at best this book was a disappointment, and if he truly believed the stuff he talked about it was tragic.

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Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese MinimalismGoodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I listened to the audiobook, so I didn’t get to see the pictures the book used to underline Mr. Sasaki’s point, it was still great.

Mr. Sasaki’s personal journey through the idea of minimalism gives a lot of rebuttals to our capitalist outlook. How living simpler makes us happier, how reducing our expectations for what we should have and we will find happiness in what we do have. A lot like my early years.

What I really liked is that while there is a lot of similarities to what he says and Buddhism, it never becomes about religion, or any sort of personal pride in being a minimalist. He points out that even that kind of pride is once again feeding into the illusion of self. He even indicates there is nothing wrong with others owning stuff and being materialistic and it isn’t his place to judge. If only the rest of the world was like that.

The book is a short read (or short listen in my case) and definitely worth checking out. Even if you don’t become a minimalist, it might let you look at things differently.

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The Emperor’s Soul

The Emperor's SoulThe Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is far better then I ever expected. Originally I wasn’t sure how I would feel, I haven’t ever read anything that was a Sanderson original. My only experience with him was the Wheel of Time, which I think he did great.

The story starts in the middle and there isn’t a wasted moment. It was like one of those plays that involves three actors/actresses and it definitely shows that Sanderson is a good writer using dialogue and emoting with his characters, not just sweeping spectacles.

The magic in the world was a little weird for me at first. I wasn’t too keen on it. I realized though that it was a pretty cool way to handle things. It was my own preconceptions and expectations that made it rough in the beginning.

I definitely recommend everyone read it. It is a short novella, and worth the price.

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River (Series 1)

I have watched a lot of police procedurals, and among them several British ones. This is by far the most unique series I have seen, following Inspector River as he looks for his partner’s killer. The twist on this, his partner still talks to him, along with many other victims and/or influences on his life.

The second twist, this isn’t a supernatural show at all. River just has mental issues and his abilities at being a detective manifest that way. It also shows how that mental illness takes a toll, resulting in a downward spiral.

The acting is great with Stellan Skarsgard as the center of the show (yes he is the father of all the young acting Skarsgard including Alexander). His acting is magnificent, and is in direct relation to the decades of acting he has put in. The rest of the cast are spectacular as well with the stars being selected for their acting ability and not because they fit into some weird young Hollywood attractiveness. This is one of the reasons I love British tv, they do have attractive young actors, but their shows starts seem much more relatable, real.

There wasn’t really any negatives I had with it, except of course the short season always throws me off (being American and used to 13-22 episodes a season, 6 episodes is always quick). I truly think though that is where British TV has American TV beat. It is about telling a story, if that only takes four episodes, that is ok. They don’t have to stretch it out to 22 episodes, thus making the show lose both pacing and heart.

Pros: In the top three for cop shows I have seen, and just a generally great series.

Cons: The fact there is no confirmed season 2, although honestly it might be good to leave it finished as an excellent show.

 

The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of PoohThe Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a horrific observation on Taoism using the Pooh characters.

It very much feels like a book from the early 1980s. The inability for the author to go into any true detail of Taoism. There is no reference to the culture, the history or the socio-political situation means you get the typical Americanized whitewashing of a religion/philosophy.

I am not a religion expert, but I am buddhist (casual) and I have taken several classes on non-Western religions including Taoism, Confucianism, and other religions. It is so much more detailed then this book. Without having the details around the philosophy it becomes misleading.

The worst part though, it is boring as hell and though might have been a best seller in 1982 that doesn’t really count for interesting or accurate.

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Mad Dogs (Entire Series)

Mad Dogs was given a single season before Amazon decided to not renew. While I did like the show, it is probably for the best.

A pretty dark comedy that is following 4 forty-somethings who go down to Belize for a reunion that evolves into a nightmare of lies, deception, and murder. Based on a British show of the same name.

Overall the people were pretty good in it, Billy Zane (of a dozen movies including The Phantom) and Michael Imperioli (of Sopranos) were the ones I specifically recognized and were my favorite characters in the show. 

It was an entertaining show, each of the ten episodes they would make the absolute worst choice, people would die, strange people would wander into the show (one example, a little person dressed in a cat mask). Unlike a lot of other shows like this, it didn’t let itself get too dark either.

The biggest problem was ten episodes was too long for the situation. The original British show (which I hear one of the other actors in this Mad Dogs played the Billy Zane part in the original) was four episodes the first season (and two additional seasons for a total of 10). Meaning this season was two and a half times longer then the British first season and had too much filler.

Pros: Funny and surprising regularly with decent acting.

Cons: The material isn’t enough for ten episodes, they should have cut it down a bit.

Maybe I will try the British version now.