Thursday, July 2, 2020

June Favorites: Captain Aubrey, Tamora Pierce, and What I Watch during Physical Therapy

We made it through June without a zombie outbreak, so yay!

I am currently jumping with both feet into the world of the public school parent, as I watch 5 hours of streamed school board meetings on 1.5 speed, trying to determine whether or not Syd should try out her first year of public school in person or via the district's brand-new "online academy." The online academy ought to be a no-brainer, since, you know, there's a PANDEMIC going on, but of course the information about what the online academy will actually look like is as vague as vague can be, so right now there's no way for me to evaluate which looks like a better fit academically, much less socially and in terms of my child's health, our family's health, and public safety. You'd think that would mean I could stop worrying about it, then, until I know more, but instead I am all-aboard the fret train.

Welcome to public school, I guess?

In the service of the escapist literature that I've been craving so much lately, I allowed myself to read TWO Master and Commander books in June!

It was GLORIOUS, even though all of Aubrey's shore-side finance misadventures stress me the hell out, and I swear that every time I fall in love with someone who is not Aubrey or Maturin, they die. I also really, really, REALLY hope that Patrick O'Brian's information about the British Navy and its sailing ships is accurate, because I now talk about this stuff all the time as if it's full fact, and not something that I read in a genuine work of fiction. It's become my OTHER conversation buffer, along with how people die in national parks and why it took so long for Jeffrey Dahmer to get caught (spoiler alert: police racism and homophobia!).

The biggest logjam in my June reading was this massive tome:

I'm really interested in Alan Turing, and the chapters about his childhood were quite engaging, but most of the rest of the book is a pretty deep slog. I mean, he was a cryptoanalyst and mathematician. Most of his actions consisted of cryptography and math. So that's what the author tells you about! I also like cryptography and math, but I found Alan Turing's level of cryptography and math hard to follow, so the book as a whole wasn't a very pleasurable read.

I would recommend it, however, if you enjoyed The Imitation Game, because a lot of what's in The Imitation Game isn't quite accurate, and how can you rave endlessly about Alan Turing to all your friends if your information about him isn't quite accurate?!?

Here's what else I read in June!

Syd joins me in my recommendation of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. I'm a MUCH bigger fan of the original novel that Syd, but we both found this modern re-telling quite satisfying in a couple of specific ways.

Will has settled into using our library's online hold system/curbside pickup appointments. I know she's missing her entire days browsing and reading inside the library, but right now, at least, she's doing a great job requesting books that she's already pretty sure she'll like, so check out her list of favorites from June!

That's... a lot of favorites. But to be fair, that's a lot of Tamora Pierce, too, and you know how my kid feels about Tamora Pierce!

My greatest accomplishment is that James Herriot collection. It's my own beloved copy that I recommended to Will, and I had to practically staple it to her hands before she'd consent to read a Mom book now that the library has curbside pickup, but once she jumped in she loved it, as I knew she would. It's so lovely and pastoral, full of animals--a remarkable book!

And here's the rest of what Will read in June!

June got me through another podcast from my absolute favorite podcast producer(s), Minnow Beats Whale/PRA. Their podcasts are always spooky, postmodern serial fiction, and they're always super-engaging. My absolute favorite of theirs is The Black Tapes, although I highly recommend all of them.

The thing is, though, that they're all LONG, and if you take a break for a few weeks or months or whatever, it's kind of hard to re-find that thread that they've been laying out for the billion previous episodes, you know? That's why The Last Movie is so good, because there's only a few episodes! Plot-wise, it's not my absolute favorite of the shows... maybe because it's not long enough for all those tangled threads to get woven?... but I did appreciate being able to listen to the whole dang thing during five morning walks.

There wasn't any new YouTube that I was obsessively into in June. Usually I manage to discover something cool, but this month I've been doing a lot of physical therapy for rotator cuff tendinitis, and I always leave those physical therapy sessions with a LOT of painful, boring exercises to do at home, so I've become very fond of finding long-format videos of people droning on about various pop culture or historical stuff. Sometimes they're experts, and sometimes they're just opinionated, but if they're willing to simply talk at me for 45 minutes while I do various things with a PVC pipe while trying not to cry, I am there for them. Here's someone who got me through my last PT session!

And yes, J.K. Rowling IS so embarrassing, and I'm glad, now, that the November Universal Studios trip I'd been planning with Will is completely off the table, because I'm no longer willing to buy any products that will result in Rowling getting a portion of my money. I mean, is she now so rich and powerful that she's only surrounded by yes-men who just let her say whatever she wants and they just agree with her? Does she have nobody in her life who is willing to help her understand gender? Did anybody tell her about intersex people yet?

I also profoundly do not get that argument that people, including Rowling, keep rolling out, consisting of something along the lines of "OMG IF WE LET TRANS PEOPLE EXIST THEN MALE PEDOPHILES WILL JUST PRETEND TO BE TRANS WOMEN SO THEY CAN GO INTO WOMEN'S BATHROOMS AND MOLEST LITTLE GIRLS!!!!!" I know Rowling is all fancy now and probably only uses secret fancy people bathrooms, but has nobody mentioned to her that, actually, pedophiles are already physically able to enter any public bathroom? Gender-exclusive bathrooms don't, like, have locks that you can only open with the biologically specified genitalia--they're just a cultural convention! A pedophile doesn't have to pretend to be a trans woman to go into the women's bathroom. They could just, you know... go in there? Or... they could go into the men's bathroom where the little boys are?

Okay, I really need to stop thinking about this right now and instead go show Matt the zillion screenshots that I took during the zillion hours of school board meetings that I just burned through, so we can both fret together about how on earth teenagers are meant to learn honors biology via ipad and whether that terse "all students receive core instruction per the Indiana standards and our pacing guides" that they didn't elaborate on actually means that online kids will in fact receive a limited selection of basic classes that simply meet standards and no more.

What stressed YOU out the most in June?

No comments: