Ups and downs

So, luckily, I do have an adjunct class next spring (titled, tentatively, “Alcohol, Love, Spirit: Intoxication in World Myth and Religion”). There was some hub-bub through the hallways of the ol’ hagg sauer of some adjuncts not being as lucky. I know how that goes, and it is pretty f’ing horrible. I’ve been there. Luckily the school had reasons why next semester shook out like it did, they weren’t just cut loose without classes. That happened to me at previous colleges and it was not great.

Anyway, I can’t depend on adjuncting to pay bills past next term (I mean, I could get lucky and have a class or two per term as things go by, but that’s a fool’s dream). Consequently, I’m glad I started Froydtech, LLC in January.

Originally it was going to be a business for my hobby of working on websites/coding, and so that I could write off new computers. Also, to be a seed starter for possible video game treadmill based business (y’know, whenever those things get here). Kind of a hobby situation.

Well, that hobby situation is hopefully going to start pulling its weight after the turn of the year. Right now it’s paying its own bills, but not paying me. If projections hold, though, it should be able to start paying me as of January.

Which brings to the ups and downs. October has been slightly problematic for those, especially on one particular site I’m working on. On the down side, we’re seeing the slow down from the summer. On the plus side, I think I’ve nailed what increases traffic and then what increases ad sales/types. We’ll see if November normalizes.

That site performance is kind of like my employment life right now, lots of ups and downs. Ah well. Who knows? The Good Lord may see fit to put me somewhere else doing something completely different. He’ll provide, one way or t’other.

Book Review: New Watch

So I just finished reading New Watch. I was done reading it the day after it had been delivered. They’re not really short books, but they are really easy reads. That’s not a criticism, btw. Some books are really short and seem to get things done quickly and leave you feeling a bit ripped off. Not the Night Watch books.

A bit of background: this is a Russian sci-fi/fantasy blend series. It’s written by Sergei Lukyanenko and is translated by Andrew Bromfield. Like the other books in the series, the translation is really solid.

I’ve been a fan since I saw the first movie on Netflix. I thought it was an interesting set up: there’re good and evil magic users and creatures/people from folklore, who in order to prevent completely destroying themselves back in the day settled on a truce. The nightwatch are the good guys keeping order at night to preserve the balance, and the daywatch are the bad guys keeping watch on the good guys. There’s also the Inquisition that enforces the truce when one side or the other screws things up. They all get their magic powers from the Twilight, which they can enter/exit at will, and which has multiple levels (each progressively more difficult to get into) which correspond roughly to the “real” world. Hence, they can seem to move between shadows (each side) or dodge bullets or what-have-you.

Anyway, Anton is the main character of this new book as well, and I’m glad. In the Daywatch book, he hadn’t been the main character for the first third (roughly) and I just didn’t care too much about the characters. Anyway, so back to the situation…

The New Watch sets up the conception of prediction/prophecy in this world, and introduces the Tiger, a character that hunts down prophets who have a significant prophecy that will impact all humanity. It’s dealing with this character that the book focuses on.

Anyway, short three sentence review: a solid addition to the series, this book introduces and deepens the concepts and world that Lukyanenko has created over the previous four. The recurrence (and aging) of the characters helps keep the plot on track, though we’ve not lost anyone significant since the third book, so this seems a little bit pat. Other than that, though, if you liked the previous four, this book is well worth the cash. So much so that I bought the physical copy.

season changing

Two things about fall that I am not a fan of, and one that I really like.

First, my energy levels somewhat plummet. I’m not real great dealing with season changes (either fall or spring), and I just kind of want to sleep until it’s all over. The changing light levels, temperature fluctuations, and adjusted activities (well, more or less) all throw me for a loop.

Second, weight gain. This is more an issue in fall than in spring. The cold weather comes along and the metabolism switches from “hey, warm! no need for these calories!’ to “batten down the hatches, horde the calories!” It’s not just that my metabolism changes, but also my diet to some extent. I may end up eating more than necessary. I’m trying to get a handle on that this year (from august to october I gained back about 8 pounds, which is not due to seasons, just general busy-ness). I’m tracking the foodstuffs and walking more and more often, luckily adjuncting to get me out of the house.

Lastly, the thing I REALLY like is the destruction of daylight savings time. I want to punch President Bush for pushing it back until November, rather than having it back in October like it used to be. Of course, I want to travel back in time and squash all of that jerk new zealander’s bug collections (and punch him too) for even coming up with it. Seriously. Read up on the history. Jerk instituted it (not a weatherologist or a political science guy, or a scientist)…a bug collector wanted more time to collect bugs after his work shift. So, rather than arguing for fewer hours, HE DECIDED TO SHIFT TIME ITSELF. Asshole. Anyway, so I’m overjoyed when daylight savings time dies in the fall.

Movie Criticism

So, on Saturday evening per usual, I am watching movies after a few beers with friends this afternoon. I’m watching Age of Ultron, which isn’t a bad film, per se, but there are several issues I have with it.

Well, to be honest, two issues. The first is the lack of fun. It’s a very serious film. There are some good funny bits to it, but for the most part it’s a very dour and dark movie. Which, very meh. I want fun when I watch super heroes, dammit.

Second, the issue of female characters. TBH, there is only one good one: black widow (though an argument could be made for Maria Hill). The PROBLEM is that who does Ultron lock up to wait for rescue? Black Widow. Like 7 other characters could be chosen, and ONE of them has zero powers (hawkeye, adorbz and such), but they choose the one who could pick a lock with her fingernail..but doesn’t. Princess begs to be rescued etc. etc. blah blah blah.

This brings me to the idea of Mulan. I watched that this morning. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment. Oh, also, in the honors class I’m teaching it came up since we were talking about As You Like It by billy shakes and the whole dressing up like a man.

I stand by my opinion that it’s just not that good a movie. The music is subpar, the characterization is weak-sauce (sure it’s a chick, but it’s a chick that just SAVED CHINA), and the stereotypes (both of men AND SPECIFICALLY OF WOMEN) are just ridiculously bad. For instance, Mulan’s first introduction is how bad she is at being a girl by meeting up with a matchmaker. So, when we meet the MAIN woman character, we’re already shown that she’s bad at who she’s “supposed” to be. And because she doesn’t fit in, then there’s no problem with her disguising herself as a man to save her father some bullshit. The long and short of it is that the portrayal of Mulan as not fitting in undercuts the agency that she MAY have had in choosing what she did (as in, the HISTORICAL FACT THAT SHE FOUGHT FOR 12 YEARS IN THE MILITARY). Consequently, she ended up doing what she did not solely out of conscious choice, but also out of necessity of finding herself.

Now, contrast that with Rosalind from As You Like It, she is similarly forced to disguise herself as a man. However, she’s forced by circumstance with no point that she was bad at being a woman (stereotypically bad, as in the matchmaker thinks you’re worthless). She then goes on to be Ganymede. There were aspersions as far as the stereotypes of women in contrast to men. HOWEVER, there was never any consideration that Rosalind was less than good at being who she was before she put on the big-boy pants.

I think that’s my problem with Mulan: the disney-fied version that belittles what it is to be both MAN and WOMAN. Shakespeare may have relied on the stereotypes of what men and women act like, but he didn’t make the individuals a caricature themselves. Hence, one of my problems with Mulan.

Bottom line: everyone has favorite movies that are (perhaps) intellectually problematic. Heck, I like Flight of the Navigator, the 1970s Hobbit Movie, and the 13th Warrior. So, like it if you will, I got no beef with that.

Audio books

I’ve never been a fan of audio books, but I’m going to try something different on my morning walks. A bit ago, I bought the Star Wars audio books bundle from Humble Bundle and so I’ve got about 8 books/novelizations to listen to.

I’ve never really done audio books before, so we’ll see how it goes. Thus far, I’m listening to the original radio show of Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s different, for sure, than my normal Pandora stations.

Back to walking.

This summer hit and decreased my walking quite a bit. June was pretty good, but then my on-campus class started in July (had to be there at 7:30), and between that and the heat, my walking declined quite drastically. August came around, and between course prep, vidja games, and things in general, my walking took a huge nose dive.

I gained back a couple pounds as well, which wasn’t great. I’ve not been eating as healthy recently, so I’ve got to get back on that bandwagon too. For lunch, though, I’ve been getting in about three servings of veggies with my sandwich, so that’s something.

Yesterday, I decided enough was enough, and set the alarm for 5 instead of 5:30. If I don’t do anything else, at least I want to get that one mile in in the mornings. Kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day, since things are bit hectic to fit in the 1-2 hour walks in the afternoons any longer.

*shrug* Things will be different, though, once I get those blasted treadmills.

just to be clear

I don’t necessarily want to be happy or overjoyed with work. If it were that, nobody would ever work…and it’d stop being a job. I just want the sense of satisfaction to outweigh the hassles. It’s been a long time since that’s been the case with teaching. So, basically, when you’re doing something for the money that will only hold on so long. I mean, I know people go their entire lives working for the weekend…I can’t do that.

So, with teaching, for the longest time I was putting in my time to get a full time job. I got one. It didn’t change much. I lost that job because the school’s ownership company went bankrupt (caused by something which will start impacting A LOT of public colleges, in fact this credentialing problem is a major outcome of the HLC’s need to prove it’s learned from its failure with my college system, CCI). So I’m pulling part-time adjunct work with the college in town. It’s not enough money, obviously, and I’m still on unemployment benefits.

Yep, feelin’ on top of the world right now: doctorate, multiple masters degrees, a decade of experience, and having to subsist on unemployment and part time work.

Could be worse, though. So I’m thankful that I’m still able to pay my bills, and after 5 months, I’ve only burned through a third of my unemployment. There’s that. I mean, I could be fleeing from war too. Sure I’m in a down mood and not real pleased with life right now, but man…it could be way worse.

Social Media Cleanse

I’m going to give up facebook/twitter for a bit. It’s an odd decision to make since it effectively removes methods of communication from family/friends.

But sometimes it gets to be just too much. For facebook, it’s a constant stream of information, and it’s not even information from EVERYONE, it’s information that Facebook thinks I’d be most interested in. I need a break from that.

For twitter, it’s kind of an empty medium. Twitter on a bad day is very similar to writing a paper made from all quotes (retweets) and the chamber of echoing outrage gets a bit much. On a good day it’s a reminder of (and an insight into) what others are doing, be they friends or celebs.

But I need like two weeks where I can focus on what I’m doing in MY life right now. The last month has been really busy, and the social media was necessary to fulfill obligations there were to a class reunion and the like. That’s over now, so I can go two weeks without it.

Time to get some work done.