sarasvati: A picture of a sign featuring vegetables and the text, "Welcome friends, I am POTATO." (I am potato)
So for my bookblog, I decide to create a fun little meme based on 30 Days of Video Games, which I call 30 Days of Genre I make the intro post, make Day 1's post... and then find that within a couple of hours the hits to my blog have just exploded as word started to spread about the meme and its topics. People all over were getting in on it. Somebody created a Twitter hashtag for it to help group all the link together. All because a friend who runs another bookblog went, "Hey, this is nifty, I think I'll spread the word."

It's gone from 30 hits being a decent day to 30 hits being a steady morning, and we're only on Day 5 of the meme. It's a little bit mind-boggling. I'm used to thinking of myself as somebody who stays in the background, who gets a little attention but will never be able to compete with the big players. And suddenly there are some big players who are linking back to me and increasing my site traffic and I still can't quite wrap my head around it.

Not complaining. Just goggling. :p

In more amusing news, I got a little bit snarky with a customer on a sup call the other day. Quite frankly, I kind of think the guy had it coming, and while I probably should have held my tongue and said something more polite, I just couldn't be bothered. I'm too tired of the bullshit there to put up with it being slung from another angle, and the customer wasn't listening to reason..

Let me set the scene. The company I work for bills for their Internet service per circuit, which means if you've got one Internet connection coming in, you get one invoice. It seems pretty straightforward that way.

However, this one customer called in and his story was thus: He has an ADSL connection, 1.5/384, and that connection is split over 3 condo buildings. Now my first thought it to feel pity for his tenants, because split that connection 3 ways and you're going to get slow speeds. Not as bad as dial-up or IDSL, but still pretty damn slow. Anyway, because it was split over 3 buildings, the guy wanted to be sent his bill in 3 equal parts, so he could bill each building seperately.

Here's our conversation:

Me - I'm sorry, sir, but since you have only one circuit on one account, we can only send you one invoice. If you wanted to get multiple accounts and multiple connections, then you could absolutely get multiple invoices, but where you've just got the one, you'll only get one bill.
Guy - Well, somebody there should be able to split it up.
Me - Sir, you have one line and you'll get one bill. That's how it works.
Guy - You should be able to change it for me.
Me - Sir, it's automated. Our system will detect that you have one line and thus only send you one bill. What you're asking cannot be done.
Guy - It's all done by computers, so I can't see why you can't just do that for me.
Me - *fed up* Okay, sir, I'll be blunt with you. While what you're asking is theoretically possible, I don't possess enough knowledge of coding to reprogram our entire billing system for you.
Guy - *grumpy mumbling* Well somebody in your company must be able to.
Me - Sir, there's nobody here who can complete your request. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Guy - Fine! But I'm going to report your response to my manager.

Ooh, big threat there.

Maybe I shouldn't have said that to him, and even the guy who I took the sup call from, who is known for being rude to customers, couldn't believe I'd said that, but I was just sick of it. I wanted to get across to him just how ridiculous his request was, especially when he'd been told multiple times that it can't be done. It would involve recoding the billing system. Whoever in the company can do that probably makes about as much in an hour as this guy pays for Internet each month, and I wasn't going to escalate the request to Corporate because this guy was too lazy to break out a calculator. I get that paperwork has to be submitted in a certain way, but when you involve outside companies who bill differently, you might just have to suck it up and deal. And nothing I was saying was getting through to him. I'd tried explaining things. So had the previous agent I took the call from. And according to the notes on the account, so had two other people, earlier in the week. One circuit, one invoice. End of freaking story. Stop calling.

You can tell I've had enough when I stop caring about getting in trouble. The worst they can do is write me up and tell me I can't be a Tier 2 agent anymore. Which bumps me back to being on the phones, which just gives me one more excuse to get out of there, which I'm already working on doing anyway.

And I highly doubt I'll even get written up. I flat-out told the supervisor what I said to the guy, and she laughed. Nobody's been doing quality monitoring for about a month now because one guy quit, one was out for bereavement, and the other's out on disability and is waiting for surgery. Nobody's replaced these people, or even started looking for replacements, so agents are doing a ton of stuff wrong and there's nobody to hear the calls properly and coach them appropriately. The company just doesn't give a shit. Neither do I.

And now I'm going to go eat a strawberry turnover and read a book. It's raining outside, and I feel like endulging in warm comfy things while I can.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Fortunately, we got paid the $12 an hour that we were supposed to, along with the expenses refund, and then the deductions for the time that they overpaid us. This, luckily for them, prevented me from going to the Labour Board.

However, I did notice on my pay that they shorted me some hours one week. Almost 5, according to the comparison between what I worked and what they logged me in for. I saw my logged hours. They didn't match up. I'm not happy. I have people looking into it. I'm now going to keep careful track of my working hours because sadly, I just can't trust people in higher positions to do anything properly anymore.

My health has still been declining because of all this stress. Any my HR person, upon seeing a post I made on Facebook about work's stressing me out, had the gall to comment that she'd love to trade places with me because her job is far more stressful. I don't doubt that her job is very stressful. But that doesn't not invalidate my comment. My work is a lot of fun, actually, when I'm not being forced to act like a supervisor without the authority to back it up. Its the workplace that's got me so wound up. I leave on Friday dreading going back on Monday.

I'm a weak person. I can't handle this level of stress without my body and mind reacting badly to it.

In happier news, Daniel and I went to see Rango yesterday. Quite a fun movie. I suspect, though, that the large number of children whose parents took them to see it will watch it again in 10 years and wonder at the amount of humour that they just didn't get the first time. Jokes about prostate exams...

Also endulged in a large number of new books, as an old tax return came through and I suddenly found myself with a spare $700 or so. Because the gods know I don't have enough to read at the moment...
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The unsteadiness in my legs seems to have become some sort of permanent feature at this point. :/ Not fun. I really am hoping that my body just reacts to stress in an unpleasant way, but even if that's the case, then I'm going to have to find ways to cut down the stress in my life, and one of my biggest stressors right now is the fact that my workplace refuses to hire a supervisor for the billing team, meaning that the escalations team has to keep order without having any actual authority to do so. Pain in my ass, let me tell you!

Stress level isn't helped by Daniel being stressed about his job. They're trying to bully him into working nights again, and demanding yet another doctor's note if he refuses. This will be their third doctor's note he'll have had to bring them, and considering they ignored the first and second until he took it to the company's head office, that's not impressive.

Haven't slept well for a few nights now, and my left eyelid's been twitching for two days straight. Also not fun, and very frustrating.

Finished reading Jo Walton's Among Others, which is an absolutely brilliant book. Am in the middle of Brandon Mull's A World Without Heroes (thus far rather disappointing) and a re-read of Mercedes Lackey's Winds of Fate (as enjoyable as ever). I really need to read more of the e-books I've received, since I have a tremendous backlog now, and it's not made easier by the fact that I'm no longer allowed to bring my Kindle to work.

I've nearly saved enough enough Swagbucks for another $5 giftcard, and I'm hoping that their offer of free shipping on orders over $25 holds long enough for me to take advantage of it. It's done so since January; at this point I'm wondering if it's their new policy rather than a special deal.

Pokemon Black and White were released on Sunday, and I've been playing that. It's interesting in its differences from previous generations of the game. TMs can now be used repeatedly, which is very nice. The levels of wild Pokemon are to a scale where level-building is now a challenge sometimes rather than tedious. I have to get out of the habit of rushing through areas the way I'm used to, because levels of wild Pokemon are usually around the levels of my trained Pokemon, sometimes higher. Previous games have gotten me in the habit of thinking I can rush through and that I really only need to train a little for Gym Leaders. That isn't the case anymore, and it's both frustrating (because I have to adjust to it) and welcome (because it makes the game more of a challenge).
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Came down with a stomach bug toward the end of the week, which made me miss a day of work and feel touchy all Saturday. Fortunately, with the exception of getting some groceries and a new surge protector (had a minor power surge last night), I didn't have to go out for anything, and got to spend the weekend recovering. I'm feeling much better now, thankfully, and should be able to return to work tomorrow.

Good thing, too, since the newbie class hits the floor and my supervisor has strongly hinted that he'll be getting my help as floor support. Anything that keeps me off the phones.

Though as much as I don't mind working where I do (so long as there are no more pay screw-ups, that is), I still do wish that I didn't have to work but could still afford rent and bills and the like. Still crossing my fingers for that lottery ticket!

Daniel made a delicious beef stew on Friday night, and made far too much of it, so we've been eating beef stew for two days and we're likely to eat it for another two yet. I was going to make a vegetable stew today for work lunches, but it seems I won't need to do that until Tuesday or so.

Beef was also cheap this weekend, so we stocked up and froze what didn't go into the stew. I have plans to make nikujaga with it. We've also still got plenty of ham left over from the Yule feast (it's in the freezer, of course), and so I'll probably spend next Saturday making split-pea-and-ham soup. And another batch of baked beans. That ought to take care of next week's lunches, and probably dinners, too. Daniel really likes the baked beans that I make, and they're so cheap that really, I can't complain at making them. The pea and ham soup won't be very expensive either, especially since I'm using leftover ham.

Read and reviewed 4 books thus far in the month, a feat which is somewhat lessened when you consider that between gifts and galleys, I thus far acquired 21 books. Luckily I don't foresee getting many more this month, so I'm hoping that the ratio will be a little more balanced at the end. Not sure how much I'll be able to read at work next week if I'm on floor support, though, but I'm aiming for another three books read and reviewed by next Sunday.

The apartment's coming along nicely, though I admit we've been a bit lazy about unpacking some things. The craft room is more of the storage room at this point, and our storage room is still filled with bags of clothes that need to be washed and donated, washed and folded and put in dressers, or washed and turned into rags. We're trying to be sparing on the water, though, since its our landlady that has to pay for the water consumption and not us, and she's nice enough that we don't want to burden her too much. Little bits at a time, especially when we've got enough decent stuff to get by for now.

A friend and local writer has asked me to act as his editor/cheerleader while he works on something he's looking to submit for publication at the end of this year. Haven't done much so far, but we're both getting adjusted to life as normal after the holidays, so we can both be forgiven, I think.

Wow... I'd say I wished for a more exciting life, but actually, I'm quite happy not having one. I prefer my life to be steady, tending to lazy and comfortable, rather than rushed and exciting. Rushed and exciting just means I get worn out and sick more easily, and I'm having enough of a problem with that now that I've returned to work. I've gone from a recovering immune system to one that's being bombarded with the illnesses of a hundred other people five days a week - it's no wonder that I've picked up a few colds and whatnot since I started there!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The holiday season went pretty well. Christmas dinner with my mother was tasty, doubly so because I cooked everything. I did the turkey in Daniel's roaster (count the ways that phrase can be taken...), and did it a little differently than normal, by laying slices of bacon over it so that I didn't have to baste and yet prevent it from drying out. Turns out that the turkey flesh right under the bacon will stay pink (the skin won't, for some reason, though) even though it's cooked, and that turkey-flavoured bacon tastes as good as bacon-flavoured turkey! Must remember to roast turkey that way again.

Then it was off to my father's rented place to hang out and, of all things, get him interested in Gackt. Turns out he's getting into visual kei, and recommended a few J-rock bands to me. This may well be bizarro world...

He sent me home with plenty of food that he wouldn't be able to eat before he had to hit the road again, and some good memories.

Oh yeah, and a brand new freaking Kindle!

Now, as much as I am not fond of Amazon playing the moral police and didn't particularly want to support them at the risk of losing my library, I'm still not going to look a gift Kindle in the mouth. That thing's pretty awesome, especially because I can transfer .pdf files via USB, and I get a lot of my review copies of books via .pdf. I can also send the books I get through NetGalley to it, too, and that'll really help me with getting through my backlog. Before, I was only able to read those books at my laptop, and considering I get around 2 hours a day at my computer now thanks to work, it was pretty slow going. But I'm allowed to use the Kindle at work in between calls, so it'll help out a lot.

I've got my goal to read 100 books in 2011. I'm sure I can make it with the Kindle's help.

I also got a $100 gift certificate to, from my mother. I'm sure they intended me to spend that on e-books for the Kindle, but frankly, I knew I was going to have an easier time spending that money on other books I wanted, some that don't have a digital edition. I used that, plus $45 in money that I got via Swagbucks, to make a huge order.

Well, I say huge, but it's not excessive. It's only 11 books, and while I don't relish carrying the package home from the post office, I'll squee with joy when they get here, because they're all books I've been wanting to read for a good while now.

New Year's celebrations were nonexistant, unless you count being really happy that Daniel got a 4-day weekend and I got a 3-day one. We've spent the time bumming around and playing video games, but it's been so wonderful to have a little extra time off!

Shame we both happened to be sick through it, Daniel moreso than me, but as I like to think, it's better to be sick on your days off than on days that we have to work. It sucks to be sick on downtime, but I'd rather be sick then, when I can stay in bed and rest up, than be sick when I have to drag my sorry butt out of bed and go suffer through a 9-hour shift at a call centre.

Speaking of work, it's getting very well known that I'm seeking a promotion, and I've got people in positions of seniority encouraging me to keep pushing for one. This is one of the first jobs where I've sought a promotion for fervently, and where it means a lot to me. In other jobs, I didn't want to be stuck in an entry-level position forever, but I only applied half-heartedly for other positions. Here, I know I can do the work, I'm taking on extra duties and assisting supervisors and helping agents, and I'm making my intent known. I want to move up, I'm capable, so I'm not going to stop until I get something.

Or until some other job recognizes that I can do it and offers me a better position there. Either way, I win. I don't want to have to go through the hassle of getting a new job, though, because as much as there have been problems with this job, I'm already almost through my probationary period here, and I don't want to have to start from scratch somewhere else.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
It's a stormy day today. The sky was a dark grey until only about an hour ago, and it's still raining fairly hard and is very windy. Rei called from work and said that there were times he could hear the rain on the roof of the store, and considering he works in a department store where music plays and customers are loud, that really says something! I can hear the wind howling outside; it makes me glad I'm indoors!

We were planning to meet later to pick up some medication and food, but we called it off. Rei's already sick, I'm slowly getting sick, and walking for an hour in the cold wind and rain will do nothing for us. Rei will still have to walk home, sadly, but he said there's no point in both of us getting drenched.

So I'm sitting here in the living room, working more on the Living Laura project. The first book went slowly, but I've got more drive behind me now, and I think if I work at it I can get at least half of the second book done today. Even if it's nothing spectacular, doing this still allows me to feel somewhat productive, even if there are better things I could be doing. (Wasing the dishes? Whatever do you mean?)

Another ARC was delivered this morning, and the first physical copy of a book I've received in a long time. I usually get a lot of my books to review via .pdf files sent by authors or publishers right to my email, or from NetGalley, so it was a nice treat to get something I can hold in my hands again.

Speaking of, NetGalley seems to have gotten a load of SF/F/P titles recently. Must go on a requesting spree! I sometimes wonder if and when they're going to refuse to give me books because I'm not churning out reviews quickly enough. It doesn't help that I'm doing a theme month on my bookblog, and there isn't a lot of historical fiction that NG offers that I'm interested in. Still, once November hits, I can get back to tearing through my backlog.

(If anyone reading my journal does book reviews, I recommend signing up for an account on NetGalley, so long as you don't mind reading e-books. Free access to a variety of titles, in exchange for a review? I have yet to find a down side to this deal!)

If anyone out there plays Pokemon games still, and if you have HeartGold or SoulSilver, don't forget to grab your free Mew from the WiFi Nystery Gift today! The event's active for a little while, but it's still limited, so grab it while you can!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Why books by women aren't serious.

There are some interesting points brought up in this article, and while I can't say it was startling to read the facts and speculations contained within, it was something that I don't consider that often.

The comments, though, were what got me thinking the most. Particularly this one: I judge books by their covers. I cannot abide by silly, frivolous cover art with shopping bags or babies or big sunglasses or god-knows-what-other-things-that-men-think-women-love. I instinctively ignore books with these sorts of covers at the book store/library because, most of the time, I am not looking for a silly, frivolous book.

Part of the problem with female authors in general getting less acclaim is this. Not that attitude (though I admit that it doesn't help), but the way women's lit has become such a popular thing these days. We're entering a stage in our society where it's easier for women to not keep their mouthes shut about stuff that's on their mind, and yet there's still a pretty clear line drawn between the masculine and the feminine. Thus it's getting easier for women to write about womanly stuff, and there are women who want to read it.

This is nothing new, of course. I'm willing to bet that Jane Austen's books had more of a female audience in mind than a male one when they were written. Books writting by women for women are out there in the same way that books written by men for men are.

But here's the thing. Because of increased interest in feminism and identity and being PC, it's getting to the point where it's actually more culturally acceptible for women to write books for women than it is for men to write books for men. Men writing manly books, with no real attempt at putting in a strong female lead or anything that might interest your average woman off the street, get accused of being sexist. On the flip side, plenty of books by women exist that involve beautiful women who have a real interest in clothes and shopping and sappy romance, and where the male lead exists as little more than a pretty body that the main female can sleep with, and such things are not called sexist. They're called empowering, they're called revolutionary, but they're not called sexist even if they have nothing in them to appeal to "typical" males and everything to appeal to "typical" females.

But that's okay. It's part of society's obsession with retroactive payment. Men had their time in the spotlight. Now they have to sit down and shut up until women are done being in the spotlight for just as much time and in just the same ways, and heaven help any man if he thinks that equality should mean actual equality.

This isn't the case for everyone nor everything. But it's an increasing trend, and one that I don't like to see. It's now okay for women to do the very things they hate men doing, and it's okay because women didn't spend all of history doing it. Oppression is still oppression, exclusion is still exclusion, and sexism is still sexism no matter which side it's coming from.

Stuff like that is why I disgree with the statement that there is no such thing as chick-lit. Sure there is. There are books written solely to appeal to young girls, young women, bored housewives, or anything with a vagina. Just like there are books written for young girls, young men, or husbands. It doesn't mean that men can't like books intended for women or that women can't like books intended for men. But a book usually has an intended audience, and if that audience happens to be specifically women, then why can't it be called chick-lit?

Especially when you look at a book that has, say, a drawing of a pretty woman in a short skirt and stylish top, clutching bags from various stores she just went to, clinging to the arm of a very handsome man. The colours, of course, tend to be reds and yellows primarily, with touches of other colours for accents. Now how many people are going to look at that and think, "Must be a book for men," or, "Must be general-interest"?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

There's nothing wrong with writing books for certain audiences. I just don't think that so many people should complain about men writing "man-interest" books while there are so many "women-interest" books on the shelves. If women are allowed to read about shopping and getting married, why can't men read about racecars and tools and beating the crap out of stuff?

The problem does come in, yes, when books by men are taken more seriously than books by women, before anything else gets taken into account at all. It's a knee-jerk reaction and a stupid one, and believe me, I don't deny that. I'm one of those crazy people who thinks that a book should be judged by its content and not its author. (Weird, I know.) And there is a large disparity between male and female authors when it comes to well-received books. Sexism and prejudice do play a part in that, sadly, and I wish I could deny that, but I can't. It certainly isn't because men by default are better writers than women. I've read some awesome books by women and some real stinkers by men. What's in your pants doesn't determine how good a writer you are, and maybe it's time some people woke up and realized that.

Now, I'm not a woman, per se. But I have boobs and a vagina, and I have a serious dislike of sexism, so I'm going to assume that I'm just as qualified to make statements regarding this as the next person with boobs and a vagina. I wish that books by women would be taken more seriously, and it`s not solely because women write only unserious books. For that to be the reason would be like automatically assuming anything written by a man is doing to be full of blood and guts and bad lesbian porn.

That being said, there, though does seem to be a trend whereby women write the kinds of books that are described in the comment I quoted at the beginning of this entry. They don't only write those things, of course, but enough write them because they're popular that really, it's hard to see how such a book can be taken as seriously as a book that actually has general interest.

But I disagree with people saying that there`s no such thing as chick-lit, and that it`s terribly unfair for books written by women for women to actually be read primarily by women. Come on, that`s like complaining that the sky`s too blue on the clear and cloudless day you wished for. There`s dude-lit too, but for some reason it doesn`t get its own specual genre. Not sure why. Possibly because even though it`s freaking obvious by the covers, the description, and the writing, people are afraid of being called sexist if they state flat-out that they`re writing books for an intended male audience, filled with stereotypical manly things.

(Perfect example of the sexism thing being okay when it`s said about men but ultimately wrong when it's said about women? This article. If there was an article entitled, "What girls should wear in the autumn to not make us look idiotic," the backlash would be unbelievable. There'd be so much crap flung at the article within minutes that the servers would be screaming in fear. Even if it was meant in jest, people would be saying that unconditionally, such things should never ever be said as a joke because it offends too many people. But oh, it's perfectly fine for the very same thing to be said about men. And if a man gets offended at the implication that people think he exists only for the pleasure of women, well, too damn bad.)

Yeah, I know I probably haven't made myself too popular with this post, because I didn't immediately stand up and talk only about how underappreciated women are in literature and how the NYT should rave about a majority of women-authored books to make up for the attention men got in the past. But I can't do that. I like equality being equal, and I believe that there's a point where retroactive payment goes too far, and that some people like to get their panties in a twist. I won't say that there isn't a problem with sexism in literature, and I won't say that some reviewers don't need to get their heads out of their asses and learn that women can write general-interest too (or any genre of book, really). But people complaining that women real female-oriented stories -- complaining! -- just annoys the hell out of me.

There's male-driven sexism in lots of places, and I see it often. Video games that allow you to remove character clothes and in which the females are wearing undergarments that couldn't possibly support their breasts. Common media portrayals of females with unrealistic body types and the expectation that females must live up to those standards in order to be considered attractive. The idea that all women who are interested in sex are sluts but those who aren't are frigid. Believe you me, that shut is everywhere, and I hate it. I want to smack people who think that way, who act that way. I deal with a lot of -isms on a daily basis, and they blow.

But in the way that Twilight is not the next Great Expectations, I don't think that fluff books should be considered great literature, and that applies no matter who writes them! Maybe it's just that women tend to write more fluff books than men, I don't know. I haven't seen all of the statistics, but it wouldn't surprise me. YA lit seems to be female-dominated these days, or at least that's what all the bookstores in my area would have me believe, and a lot of YA is fluff. The romance section of most bookstores is bigger than ther history section, and I think that the 'general fiction' shelves are probably a bit more male-dominated, but in fairness, a lot of those are because there are some big name male authors who are pretty much a front for a gaggle of ghostwriters.

I don't think I'm saying things as well as I mean to, and there's a conclusion that I keep trying to draw from all this, but it all sounds like I'm apologizing for having an opinion that differs from what is rapidly becoming the norm. I'm tired of having to apologize for myself. I'm sure that a lot of fighters for rights of all kinds can relate to that problem. And once again, I want to stress that I'm not saying that there's isn't an unfair bias in the literary world. It probably doesn't help that most professional book reviewers for big publications are men. (A sharp contrast to the bookblogger community, actually, where the overwhelming majority are female.) But when people complain about books for an intended audience actually reaching that audience, and ignoring the fact that maybe men don't read that kind of book because they can't even relate to the characters (much like many modern women may not have an easy time relating to stories about burly beefy men tearing up the battlefield), I start to call foul.
sarasvati: A silhouette of a man riding a dolphin, with the words "Part of everything" underneath (inexplicable)
July is going to be a busy month for me, no matter how I consider it. In some ways, I'm looking forward to it, and other bits of are screaming, "Argh, how did you get yourself into this mess?!"

Reading: I have, at this moment, 9 review copies of books that need my attention. Fortunately 4 of them are geared more to young adults, so they'll be quicker to read than the other 5, but that's still a heft reading requirement. They don't all have to be reviewed by the end of July, but 1 of them is overdue and others I got direct from the small-press authors themselves, so I feel a greater obligation to finish then before others. I should be able to finish at least 1 of those 9 before the end of this month, but that still leaves 8. It'll take more than a single month to get them done with all the other things I have to do.

Writing: Aside from all the prompt and writing challenges I've signed up for, Rei and I have challenged ourselves to an early NaNo-type challenge, which we have called DoJu. (Domestic July Novel Writing Month.) I've got my premise, at least, which is a relief compared to two days ago when I had no idea what I'd write, but that, plus the other challenges... I admit, I finished this past NaNo challenge in 15 days, but that was only because I had no job and nothing else to distract me. Now, I do.

Drawing: The Sketchbook Project stuff should be arriving in a few weeks, which means I ought to take some time to at least do a few drawings for it. Or at least some photos to use as sources for things I can't quite draw yet without a good source image.

Work: No job yet, but it's not like I don't need one desperately. I have an interview tomorrow, for a night auditor position at a nearby hotel, which I think I'd enjoy. They ask for a lot and don't give much back, though, which is a blessing and a curse. They need 4 references as opposed to the standard 2, their idea of full-time hours is 25 a week, but they do pay about $13 an hour, so even on the minimum they'll give me, I could still get by on that pay, especially since they offer benefits. (I need my discount meds! I'm almost out, I can't afford to pay $140 for refills right now, and I do like to keep breathing.)

So even if I don't get that job (and I'm hoping that I do get it), it'll be a busy month with lots of obligation and responsibility. And somewhere in there I'll end up fitting in weekly dinners with a friend, going out for walks and to get groceries and any other job stuff that comes my way, so if you hear me say at any point in July that I don't have anything to do, you all have my permission to give me a smack upside the head.

But for now, since it's not quite July yet, I think I'll take advantage of a little free time and go lie down before going out to take a walk and buy cat food. It was dawn before I got to sleep last night, and I'm really feeling it now.
sarasvati: A picture of a cabbage with the words, "Cabbages, cabbages, barely even human" across it. (cabbages)
I finished reading James Rollins's Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow, which is a young adult-oriented adventure novel that tries to balance history, archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology with a fantasy twist. In other words, should be the kind of thing that's right up kids' alleys, right?

And you'd be right... if you ignore the fact that females get shafted badly and that Rollins seems to be trying to be J K Rowling for only boys... and failing at it.

I wrote my review of it on my bookblog, but feel compelled to spread the word a little about the treatment of female characters in this novel. I really do wonder what was going through Rollins's head when he wrote this. If I'm feeling generous, I can say that he honestly thought that females would have absolutely no interest in reading adventure stories and so decided to pander to the opinions that preteen boys tend to have towards their female acquaintances.

At worst, Rollins is rather stupid and has a very low opinion of women.

There are some cases where I think that people complain for the sake of complaining, especially when it comes to the treatment of women in fantasy or fantasy-type novels. A lot of them admittedly do have women holding a lower station than men, which in most cases doesn't bother me because a lot of high fantasy is based on our own medieval period, which, surprise, had women hold lower stations than men. There are moments where this goes too far, but for the most part I don't have a big problem with that, and sometimes I think the people who kick up a stink about it are only seeing what they want to see.

Before anyone bites my head off about that statement, I want to say that it doesn't hold true in all cases. Some complaints are perfectly justified. But when I see people complain because [insert fantasy culture here] has people that worship a goddess and whose religion states that women are superior to men and where the women are strong and independant... but the complaint is that they're not protrayed as real women because they're not "womanly" enough (and by womanly, I mean caring about appearance and raising a happy family, and yes, I've actually seen this complaint before), then I call foul.

Anyway, back to my bitching.

In Skull King's Shadow, there's Kady, who is the main character's older sister. Kady, who is a cheerleader and a temperamental airhead who cares more about looking pretty for cameras than about her parents' legacy, who is pretty and cares about dating her school's star football player. She's compared with her brother, who is dedicated and picked on by bullies and is tortured by the disappearance of his parents, who is so intelligent that he even dazzles his teachers by giving long and detailed reports and proving their math theories wrong in class. Boy Wonder versus the Airheaded Twit.

They get transported to a strange world where, after being chased by a vengeful t-rex, Kady gets huffy that Jake can't do something to call off the dinosaur. She actually turns her back on him in a huff, and Jake rolls his eyes and says that's just typical of her, pretending a thing doesn't exist by not looking at it. Hello, you're being attacked by a fucking t-rex!

She gets taken in by some Viking warrior women, where she proceeds to awe them all with her amazing fancy swordwork, which is a display that her brother realises he's seen before in Kady's cheerleading baton routine. Because a baton is totally the same as a sword, as we all know very well. Kady also starts fashion trends among the Viking warrior women, because that's just what women do. They do fashion stuff that boys get to roll their eyes at because it's stupid and irrelevent to the terrible situation at hand.

Later, Kady teaches all those warrior women to do a cheerleading routine, all for the purpose of providing a distraction so that Jake can sneak away and do all the important stuff that heroes need to do. All of these Viking girls have French-braided their hair to match Kady's, because again, I guess that's what all girls do. Cheerlead and braid their hair.

Sure, there's another female around that gets to take part in the main adventure. Marika gets to do stuff... because she's got an obvious crush on jake and follows him around. But aside from being pretty and making his heart flutter with her wonderful emerald-green eyes, she doesn't have much personality, and seems to be there for the sole purpose of having a crush on Jake and occasionally filing him in on some cultural stuff.

There's a little Neanderthal servant boy named Bach'uuk, who has a more fleshed-out personality than any female, and who, aside from Marika, gets more feature time than any other female. Feel sorry for the little overlooked boy, who comes from a race that people use for slave-labour and are thought to be stupid. Poor little boy. Yes, feel sorry for him and all his trouble. Pay not attention to the vacuous airhead sister or the 2-D personality love interest. They aren't worthy of your attention. They don't need to have layers. After all, they're just there to serve the purposes of getting Jake to where he needs to be in order to figure out the riddles and be the awesome preteen hero.

This book wasn't written with the intention that anyone without a penis would read it.

It's pretty sad. I've heard so much about this guy's adult novels, heard that he's great at writing and weaving a story. I was even willing to give his other books a try in spite of the fact that the one I actually picked up a while back sounded like it was trying to go one step beyond The DaVinci Code in terms of complexity and conspiratorial mayhem. But now, I don't want to give this guy my time or my money.

I think the complaints are well-deserved in this case. I also think I may be the only one to see this, as just about every review I've read for this book praises the author and his writing, and doesn't seem to mind that females get shafted at every available opportunity.
sarasvati: Greyscale picture of Kido Jou, studying at his desk (study)
Once again up at insanelyearly o'clock, as Rei had an early shift at work and my sinuses were too sore and stuffy to allow me to comfortably get back to sleep. Fortunately I don't have much to do today that will make starting early a big pain. Reading, possibly a book review if I finish said book, visiting Cass later for some board game fun, and then another early night because Rei has another early shift tomorrow. It works out in the end, even if I hate getting up at 7:15 AM.

Facebook has given me a new timesink in the form of FrontierVille. It's as though they spied on me and made a game tailored specifically to my pet interests. At least I'm not playing as many games on Facebook as I used to, and I suspect that, much like all the other games, I will play this one obsessively for a while and then get bored of it, going back to my regular routine of not doing too much on Facebook at all.

I'm really excited about all the Nintendo 3DS news. More than a few new games coming out that I want, and hopefully by the time they're released I'll have a job and can afford them, and the games that I want that have already been released will have come down enough in price that I won't go broke trying to catch up. Of course, with the rate people have been flinging new books at me to read, I wonder sometimes if I'll have any time left for video games. I have 3 reviewer copies of books that I need to hurry up with, and a there are a few free ones I have access to that will be expiring pretty soon and so I want to read them before they do.

One thing I can say about bookblogging is that it sure keeps me busy!

I suppose in that case, I should make good use of this early start to the day and make myself a cup of tea and settle down to finish what I'm currently reading so that I can get a review out and start on the next one.
sarasvati: Greyscale picture of Kido Jou, studying at his desk (study)
Caught up on sleep last night, despite being woken up a few times by insistant cats. Over all I got about 10 hours, and possibly could have dozed for a few more if I hadn't felt like I ought to be actually doing something instead of just lying around in bed.

I started reading Jones & Wilson's An Incomplete Education, more out of curiosity over what the American school system does and doesn't teach than for any academic purpose. It seems like it will alternate between fascinating and dull, so I'll have to persevere in order to finish the whole book.

I dug out my old 11th grade math book the other day and am contemplating doing all the problems in it. The majority of it is too advanced for me to make much use of on a daily basis (quadratic equations rarely have a place in my life), but it will keep me amused and occupied for a while.

I also have Spanish, Italian, and Latin textbooks around here somewhere, in addition to my Japanese workbooks. I think I may have a German textbook, too, and I'm not sure where my Ancient Greek textbook is at the moment. Sometimes I get great amusement in taking stock of all the language-learning tools at my disposal, and that's all before I factor in language lessons available online. It was thanks to a website a few years ago that I started trying to learn Punjabi and Korean, and had I kept at it, I'd probably remember a lot more than the structure of written Korean and how to say "gold grandmother world" in Punjabi.

I wonder how many languages I'd have a decent grasp of if I'd stuck to learning them instead of learning for a little while and then moving on to something else.

My tax return had better go into my bank account soon. I have rent and debt to pay, and I'd like to get a new sketchbook and some inking pens. I still have a good stock of Ticonderoga pencils, so I don't need more of those. I also need a new bus pass for next month, or else I'll have a hard time getting to interviews or jobs.


sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)

August 2011

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