• I don’t know if you remember, but DH’s relative’s wife’s anti-vax, anti-mask family all got Covid over Thanksgiving and at least two of them were hospitalized.  (The relative’s wife in question has a suppressed immune system and had brain cancer a few years back.  Her relatives don’t care.)  Well, the relative just emailed to let DH know that two of them, including one that was hospitalized just got Covid a second time.  They’re still unvaxxed and still anti-mask.  One of them is taking ivermectin but the other is old school with the hydrocloroquinine.  That is a really short time period between getting Covid again.  Was one Delta and the other Omicron?
  • Update:  The entire extended family (except DH’s relative’s wife who is boosted but still spent two hours at the super-spreader event unmasked) now has covid again.
  • The NYTimes numbers and our health department’s numbers for new covid cases in our county have started varying really dramatically, like by hundreds of cases per day (NYTimes being the larger).  Plus the NYTimes has stopped reporting 0 new cases on weekends.  (The health department doesn’t work on weekends.)
  • Our health department took extremely lengthy holidays between Dec 22nd and Jan 7th.  They worked about two days within that time-frame, meaning during the early ramp up of omicron there was no information.  When they came back they had a huge backlog of cases.  But they don’t count cases that are reported to them, only cases that they have fully investigated.
  • Every day the backlog cases number gets larger by a bigger amount than the number of cases they’ve screened.  As of this writing (which was a week ago) they are reporting about 150 new cases per day per 100K people and the backlog is about 2,100 new cases per 100K people.  If trends continue, tomorrow’s backlog will be minimum 2,300 per 100K people.  (Update:  it was 2,400 per 100K.  Update 2:  It seems to have stalled out around 2,500 per 100K, though students haven’t gotten back yet.)
  • The health department has also stopped reporting daily numbers on their twitter feed.  You basically have to read a local news article to get their numbers each day.
  • Our town had a couple of pop-up drive-through testing sites that had really long lines.  They still have not reported their positives to the health department.
  • The health department has also said that they won’t accept home-tests and if you want your case included in the count you need to get an official test.  But it’s really hard to get official tests locally and if you do, you wait hours.
  • The health department itself doesn’t do testing.  They’ve outsourced it to a few local pharmacies.  Most of the university’s testing sites were closed over break.
  • My university has decided not to do drive-through testing at the beginning of the year, but instead will allow people to order and pick up two Binax tests/week on campus.  On the one hand, this is useful because you can use the Binax tests on family members and you can use them at your convenience.  On the other hand, it is a hassle to order them and pick them up for a large portion of campus (my part of campus specifically).  I’m hoping at least one of their locations is convenient to undergraduates.
  • It also means they’re not going to be getting people in denial about having covid or who don’t know they have covid at the beginning of the semester like they have in previous semesters when testing the first two weeks of school was required.  Those cases will also not be reported to the health department like they would have been previously.  Though of course they likely would have just been added to the backlog.
  • Update:  They underestimated demand so are limiting people to one box.
  • DC2 says most of hir teachers are now masked even though they weren’t the first week.  So far there haven’t been many reported student absences at hir school, but there have been several staff members.  Both DC1 and DC2 have reported having a lot of substitutes.
  • DC1’s school has had double digits of new cases every day, but so far it hasn’t been as bad as it was in August.  It’s only been a couple of weeks though.  Update:  then it went to zero for students for a while (but staff still being reported).  But DC1 says students are absent?  The numbers aren’t matching up with the experience.  I’m guessing people aren’t testing/reporting?  Or maybe it really is that everyone got it who was going to get it?  Update:  Numbers went up again.
  • DC2 says that most students don’t wear masks at all and many of the people who do regularly pull them down below their chins.  Zie says zie’s often reminding people to pull them up.  Zie has also handed out a lot of masks to other kids.  DC2’s first period teacher has also started handing out masks.
  • DC1 says more high schoolers are wearing masks than before break.
  • DC1 got a mild headache the day after hir booster.
  • I don’t know if behealthyusa.net is still doing this, but they sent a freebie holiday mask along with our last order.  It had snowmen and pine trees on it.  Very cute.
  • The university has a test positivity rate of around 25%.  That implies that a LOT of cases aren’t being diagnosed.  But the county’s rate is only 10% (which is still not great, but is much lower).  It’s hard to think about who is selecting into these groups when students are out and when the health department is so far behind in its figuring out how many actual cases there are.  What are the county’s numerator and denominator?
  • I read some articles on Long Covid, and some of the symptoms are similar to the aftermath of that horrible virus DH had that made him think he had rabies.  That is, the doctors he saw think that’s what caused nerve damage that led to involuntary muscle twitches.  After 2+ years the twitches are getting less frequent.  I’d also gotten some brain fog from a virus that was long lasting that finally started to go away.  It is really scary feeling less intelligent than usual when your whole identity is pinned on being one of the smart ones and you’re used to being good at remembering and figuring things out and all of a sudden you have to come up with other ways to do things, or give up on doing them at all. (The truly scary bit is not even realizing you’re making mistakes.) Having seen many of my students and RAs suddenly get less intelligent, making mistakes they never would have before, forgetting things right away, etc. is it any wonder I’ve been taking extra precautions for Covid?
  • Rural schools in our county are shutting down because of too many covid cases.  So far the two bigger towns aren’t.  As of the reporting of the article I read about this, 1% of students in our school district are currently covid positive and 2% of the students in the school district next to ours are currently covid positive, based on parental reporting to the schools.  (How much overlap between this and what the health department reports?  Who knows.)  The schools that shut down are more like 8% out with covid.
  • Apparently a large number of my colleagues got Covid over break (according to the dean).  My department head (who didn’t even BRING a mask to our December full day meeting, though zie did take one of mine after I yelled at pretty much everyone) is still sick.  Which explains the lack of beginning of the semester emails.  I’m just surprised it took this long.  Though one of my work friends pointed out that it may be a reinfection.
  • Suddenly faculty meetings are zoom only again and not catered.  So maybe zie is taking covid seriously now?
  • You can order your 4 free at-home covid tests from USPS here.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 30 Comments »

Blue State Readers: Democracy at risk, call your reps

Hey guys…

So, voting rights are being eroded across the country.  Most recently Wisconsin said that they can’t have drop-boxes for absentee ballots.

If you’ve been reading twitter, people who were most active in electing democrats are now turning on them.  Elected democrats are not protecting democracy enough.  They’re not protecting the vulnerable enough.  They’re not even protecting the post office.  These things are all true.  But I’ve seen a lot of twitter accounts with massive amounts of followers starting to say that they won’t vote at all in the next election and they’re encouraging their followers to not vote either.

So basically we’re getting:

  1.  Vulnerable people being unable to vote because of legislation and rulings making it difficult for them to vote.  Long lines, few voting sites, voter ID, insane gerrymandering, etc. are now the order of the day.
  2.  Well off white people who helped in the last election not helping at all, and, in fact, supporting fascists with their rhetoric.

I live in a not voting state.  What these two items together end up giving you is a whole lot of death.  Even if most of our population supports something, it doesn’t matter because we don’t run and we don’t vote because we’ve given up hope.  We had a little bit of hope two elections ago, but not enough to sustain until the next election, and not enough to overcome the barriers to voting for vulnerable people.  I don’t want to live in a not voting country.

Today is MLK day.  The MLK family is doing a big march to protect voter rights for that first group.  If this were four years ago, there would be a centralized website where you could find marches in your area.  But I don’t think there is.  Just the main march.

Here’s my ask.

If you live in a Blue State, or if you have a Democrat as a senator (especially if that “democrat” is Sinema or Manchin, both of whom are acting like Republicans and making it really difficult for any sort of progressive agenda to get through):

  • Call your senator and make it clear that you still care about democracy.  We NEED the freedom to vote act to be passed.  https://5calls.org/issue/voting-rights-ftva-freedom-vote-act/
  • Before completely throwing away a representative, take a look at what they’ve been trying to do.  Is it truly them, or have they been trying and been stymied by not having *enough* power.  Look at their own records, not just the record of democrats as a whole.  This is going to vary by representative and senator.  Don’t throw away the entire party.

If you live anywhere in the US:

  • Primaries are starting up.  Look into these.  Republicans are worried about being primaried on the right.  Maybe dems should start worrying about being primaried on the left.  If you have extra cash, throw a little money to the candidates whose ideologies best match yours.  Even if they have no chance of winning, money will send a signal.
  • Look at your upcoming local elections and make a plan to VOTE.  Local primaries and local politics are now more important than ever since neither the court system nor the federal government is going to protect us.

I’m not sure where the best place for right-to-vote donations are right now.

Not allowing comments today because I don’t want to deal with all the well-off White dudes who want to tell me that everything is hopeless.  You guys should move to Russia.  Once you decide everything is hopeless, the fascists win.  So yes, if you get enough people to lose hope, you’re right.  Would you rather be right or still have some chance at living in a democracy?

Link love (late because I’m lazy)

Abortion clinics surrounding TX are getting overburdened (link to donate at the bottom of the thread).

It really is the oldest sister anthem:


Ask the grumpies: Planning for retirement/savings when you don’t know when you’re going to die

First Gen American asks:

How would you plan for retirement date and/or savings plan if you each had a parent that both died very young and very old.

No matter what happened with your parents or grandparents, you don’t know when you’re going to die.

That means you need to plan for the contingency that you’re going to live a really long time.  Essentially– you need insurance against the eventuality that you live longer than expected.

There are a few ways to get this insurance:

  1.  Keep having income coming in (working)
  2.  Have a lot of savings that you don’t completely spend down (knowing that with luck you will still have money leftover when you die and that money will not be wasted because it brought peace of mind)
  3.  Annuitize

Those of us in the US and most other developed countries have some form of annuitization from the government– Social Security is ours.  Although Social Security may be cut or it may not keep up with inflation depending on future politics, it will probably be there to form some sort of hedge against outliving our assets.  But most of us want more than what that can provide.  If you want more, you can buy an annuity, though annuity markets can be kind of messed up.  Working longer is subject to ability, health, age discrimination and just plain luck, so you may not have a choice in the matter.  And savings you likely understand and are wondering how much to do.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say to stop worrying about when you’re actually going to do die as you do retirement planning.  Pick the oldest age you think you’re likely to die and plan for that.  Think of it as insurance, not optimization.  You’re trying to make sure you can afford tuna fish instead of catfood in your old age.  There may be contingencies with your own personal planning– you may have children you think could pick up the slack if you run out of money (or you may want to have some annuities).  You may be willing to drop your consumption down to low levels and hope the government picks up increased medical bills at older ages.  And as you get older, you’ll have more information about your personal health diagnoses and may have a better idea for the future.  But in your current planning, pick that old age and ignore the young one.


  • DC1 wanted a Swedish princess cake for hir birthday this year.  We had tried making Marzipan twice earlier this year and both times did not end up with something that would make a good cake cover.  So we decided to bite the bullet and buy marzipan.  Sadly the only local places we could get it sell it in tiny 7 oz tubes, so we had to get four of them and squeeze it out.  I know we have made good marzipan in the past, but we don’t seem to have saved the recipe.
  • Update:  we did not actually need to get 4 of them.  Three would have been fine and we probably could have handled just 2.  We have a lot of marzipan in the fridge now.
  • Swedish princess cake was AMAZING.
  • I know that some people are genuinely picky eaters and have processing disorders and so on.  But I do wish that my MIL and SIL would stop telling specific children that said children hate all vegetables.  Like, when I say, would you like some green bean casserole, they could just keep their mouths shut and let the kid answer rather than saying, oh, X hates all vegetables.  I didn’t like most vegetables until I was 15 or 16, but I kept an open mind and tried things.  If I didn’t, I’d never have known that my tastes changed.  It’s not just one kid, it is three kids (ironically the fourth kid actually does have a feeding disorder and eats lots of fruits and vegetables via purees).  My kids have different vegetable likes and dislikes, and with a few exceptions (DC1 has never liked tomatoes, and DC2 doesn’t like the concept of mushrooms), those likes and dislikes have changed through their lives.
  • DC2 actually really loves most vegetables.  I suspect this is connected to hir dislike of most milk products (zie likes ice cream and a very small number of cheeses– I also only liked a small number of cheeses as a kid and now I love everything except goat cheese, but I drank a lot of milk because the pediatrician was worried about me being small and skinny, which DC2 does not do).
  • DC1 tends to eat most vegetables only under duress, but (at age 15 minus a few days) noted that Brussels sprouts (covered in bacon sauce, which zie was obligated to try) aren’t so bad.
  • The in-laws had forgotten that DC2 likes vegetables– the first couple meals we had at their place were uniformly beige in color, though DC2 did eat a lot of mashed potatoes.  The Brussels sprouts came later on in the trip after they remembered.  MIL loves them, but doesn’t usually get to eat them.
  • It’s crazy to think that when we were DC1’s age, we were a year away from trying Thai food for the first time and several years away from Indian food and Sushi.  Home-style Korean didn’t come until graduate school!  Many of DC1’s favorite cuisines and almost all the healthy food that DC1 enjoys were things we didn’t try until we were older than zie is now.  Zie had hir first sushi (veggie/cooked) and Thai etc. before zie could hold a fork!  And I lived on Indian food while pregnant with DC2 because of the wheat allergy.  I wonder what other new foods we will get to try in our future.  I think Poke is our most recent new thing, and that’s from like 6 years ago.  Man I love food.
  • Because of my toasted C drive (more on that later– I bumped the post to a later week) I finally moved into DH’s hand-me-down desktop computer which is a lovely Alienware.  Lots of things that didn’t work before now just work and everything seems faster.  One problem is that the Alienware has a slanted top so we have had to put a box on its side next to the case to hold my external harddrive because it kept slipping off.
  • I do not like my BIL’s MIL.  The first time I met her, a decade and a half ago, she was making my BIL’s fiance (now wife) miserable with her stressing out about the wedding and her insistence on everything being a specific way even though she was paying for none of it.  I later found out that she’d promised to pay for the expensive wedding dress she’d insisted on but then didn’t and BIL and his wife were in debt because of it for a while (plus it took a while for her parents to admit it, so there were fees and interest tacked on).  This time she ended up sitting next to me at Christmas dinner and started complaining about poor people mismanaging their money and what Judge Judy has to say about them.  And she gossiped a lot about her extended family and how terrible they are at raising children and how their three year olds (!) are horrible and are going to grow up to be horrible.  When I said I didn’t like to pass judgment on how people who are worse off than I am spend their money because I can’t understand their problems, she said she could because she has been poor (and then we played the who had a poorer parent game– I think I won because my dad is 5’2″ and grew up in a literal warzone/the Depression).  I did not remind her of her poor monetary behavior in the past which DH later said was very good of me, though I did lecture a little bit about public finance and public policy which apparently Judge Judy does not understand AT ALL.  Fortunately when DH showed up she stopped having her comfortable coze with me and started asking him about his job and whether he was going to be doing all of the driving back.  (“No, we’ll be splitting it,” he said.  “It’s my car!” I piped up.  And then we noted DC1 will probably help with the driving next year if we drive.  She did not approve.)
  • But it could be worse– not a word about Mexicans (which was the big thing I was always correcting one of DH’s grandmas on, reminding her about their essential humanity, though she always accepted the correction and added on to it– she knew because she was a teacher and did remember that Hispanic kids are people– she had one of those racisms where she liked every individual she met and saw them as individual persons, but as a group she quoted conservative talk radio), and not a word about Trump or liberals etc.  Apparently BIL’s wife made her stop doing that in company ages ago.
  • I do like BIL’s wife quite a bit.  We have similar taste in reading.  She’s the one who I miss exchanging presents with now that we’re doing kids only.
  • That’s probably enough of me being catty about people I’m related to by marriage.  I wonder what they say when they gossip about me.  (Actually, I suspect I would rather not know!)

Even more on masks

Things I think I know from reading mask twitter (these are mostly PhDs who worked on N95 or aerosol studies etc. prior to the pandemic… I only link to mask nerd, but if you click on the people he retweets you end up going down a rabbithole of aerosol maskery) and watching masknerd on youtube.

  • The best mask is the one you will wear consistently.
  • Cloth masks are somewhat ok at protecting other people (WAY better than nothing), but not so great at protecting the wearer.
  • Fit is more important than filtration.
  • Filtration is still important.  Especially if you’re in places where not everyone is masked.
  • Cloth masks, even ones with filters, fall down on filtration.  None of the cloth masks with filters I’ve seen tested have a filter that goes all the way to the edges (including enro :( ).
  • Masks with head elastics tend to be easier to get a good fit with than masks with ear loops.
  • Masks with ear loops may be easier to keep wearing the entire day, especially if you occasionally have to take it off to do things like eat or drink.
  • KF94 last at least 40 hours without losing filtration.  N95 have been tested to last even longer.  One expert says that that with N95 the elastics die (or become too loose so you lose fit) before there’s filtration loss.
  • Do NOT wash your paper mask with alcohol or sanitizer– that kills the electrostatic charge.  (Getting your mask wet seems to be ok, so don’t worry about rain.  Still, don’t wash them.)
  • The best way to “clean” your mask is to wear it for up to 8 hours and then just set it aside for a couple of days.  Practically speaking, if your kids are going to school, this could operationalize as having 5 masks that they wear one school day a week for up to 5 weeks or until the fit no longer works, then swap out with another 5 masks.   My kids put their masks in a box next to the door when they come home.  I plan to put hash tallies on the masks in an unobtrusive place each weekend in order to keep track of how many uses they’ve had.  (YMMV if your kids get their masks literally dirty.)
  • Different faces fit different masks.  Standard N95 don’t do as well with women’s faces or Asian faces on average compared to other groups (they weren’t tested on them!).
  • It’s great if you can try a bunch of different masks in different sizes to find what works for you.  Also you may find that different masks work better in different situations (ex. A bifold Respokare works really well for my face shape, even though the measured filtration isn’t as impressive as the price-tag, but it is not breathable enough for an 8 hour day, where I prefer a medium Botn KF94 or Posh Large).
  • 3M makes different shapes of N95.  We’re really liking their boat shape, though they’re not the prettiest masks (there’s visible staples).  You probably don’t want the hard body N95 for everyday use.
  • KF94 have much better filtration than 94%.  The Korean government does a great job making sure that they don’t go below 94% which provides an incentive for companies to exceed that, and also makes it more difficult for fakes to come into the market (much easier to fake a KN95 because the Chinese government isn’t as careful).  KF94 are also a population-level mask, whereas the N95 standards are for occupations.
  • Amazon sells a lot of counterfeit masks, especially KN95.  You’re best off going with a Korean mask from someplace like behealthyusa.net or 3M masks from your local hardware store or an authorized 3M dealer.  (I went on the 3M page and found places they authorized to get our 3M masks).
  • Fogging glasses doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad nose fit.  On the one hand, if you have a bad nose fit, your glasses are likely to fog, especially if you have a good fit everywhere else.  BUT if you have a great fit everywhere, that water vapor may still come out of the top.  Masks are breathable.  It’s the electrostatic charge that’s doing the job with Covid, not a complete lack of holes in the paper.  Some masks will put non-breathable paper on the top of the mask to prevent fogged glasses, but most don’t.
  • With a good mask and a good mask fit, you shouldn’t be able to smell perfumes, but you may still be able to smell things like cooking food.  Apparently this has something to do with what the smells travel on and how big the particles are.
  • The tests experts recommend don’t tend to be smell tests — they tend to be feeling for air gaps tests.  They have different suggestions for how to test.  I’m not sure what is best.  Also, it’s ok for the mask to move out a little bit when you breathe out.
  • Some experts say if you’re boosted and wearing a well-fitting N95/KF95/(genuine)KN95 you’re ok and unlikely to get sick, even with Omicron.  Other experts say, no, if you’re the only person wearing a mask, even if you’re boosted, all that does is increase the amount of time before you get an infection and decrease the viral load.  Medical professionals, they argue, are professionally fitted and have other protections when working with Covid positive patients.  But increasing time and decreasing viral load is a good thing!

Are these true?  I don’t know!  They disagree with things other non-experts have said in their round-ups (see:  Josh Marshall), but the general idea– wear N95/KF94/(genuine)KN95 instead of cloth or surgical masks, and get the best fitting of those that you’re willing to wear consistently– those are probably good.

Link love

Indivisible says it sounds like the Senate is finally going to try to get rid of the filibuster and tackle voter rights.  I hope they’re right.  What can you do?

You can call your senators to support the Freedom to Vote Act and to abolish the filibuster.  If you live in Arizona, then pressure Sinema.  Ditto Manchin for those who live in West Virginia.  (Aside:  if you plan on not doing anything, please just keep your mouth shut instead of leaving a comment here telling other people to give up hope.  You may think you’re a good liberal dude, but you’re actually helping the fascists.)

Indivisible says this:

You may have seen that MLK’s family is campaigning this MLK Day for filibuster reform and voting rights (here). If there is a democracy event already planned in your area, great — join up. If not, that’s fine — pull some friends together and make it happen. This is possibly the last opportunity to affect the outcome of this legislative fight — so make it count!

But I can’t find any way to check for MLK day protests.  That link is just a news article about the main march.

British BLM protestors cleared of wrongdoing in toppling the statue of an evil enslaver and slave trader.

What can teachers do? Here’s a thread of suggestions including air filters.

Enoughing it says enough with resolutions.

This is a very cool thread wherein Rachel Mans McKenny solves writers block for various authors by giving them random plot bits to work with.



Ask the grumpies: how do people play video games these days?

Bookishbiker asks:

I don’t really get how people play video games anymore, like what is the actual technical mechanics of it all? Do all video games have to be played on consoles? Are there some games where you just log into a web page? Are there any good games that are phone-only? (I think you recently had that conversation and the conclusion is that phone games aren’t that good.) Every now and then I read a review about a game that sounds interesting but then I don’t even know how a person games. I’m old enough to barely remember using a cassette tape to load a game called Montezuma’s Revenge! And I haven’t gamed since. So feel free to break the concept down to tiny bits :) I’d like to try some immersive but not super HARD game sometime but I don’t even know how it all works.

I have handed this question off to DH.  I can’t both play games and take care of myself, much less excel at a job or pay attention to other people.  I don’t know how other people do it.

People play games on all of the above, and many games are available on multiple platforms.

There are definitely good games on phones.  He just finished playing Slay the Spire, which he liked, but he’s not sure that he would recommend it to everyone.

There are time-wasting games on websites, like candy crush, or emulation games (like NES emulators etc.) that you can play in your web-browser these days, you know, to reclaim your childhood.  Maybe even Montezuma’s Revenge! (DH notes there’s an Artificial Intelligence that does really well on Montezuma’s Revenge.)

Centralized distribution has become a big thing, so Steam games or Humble bumble and other distributers are where many people get their video games these days.  You can easily get access to a lot of games to buy for your computer or console system.

He tends to use Meta-critic for finding games, which he thinks works best for finding console games.  As far as he knows, there’s not a single website that is good for all kinds of video games.  Steam has good rankings, so he tends to use steam for finding computer games to download.

A lot of people on gaming podcasts recommend that you get an XBox X or XBox S and get an XBox GamePass which is $15/month and you can get access to tons of games.

Two immersive games that we would recommend to anybody are:  Stardew Valley (for PC / Mac / Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4,  Playstation VITA, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android!) and Undertale (available on Switch, PC, PS4, PSVita, and XBox).

Note:  None of these are affiliate links and none of these companies have the slightest idea that we exist, though DH does spend a big chunk of his allowance on Steam games.

Grumpeteers, what are your video gaming recommendations?


It has been a long time (was it really October?!) and we haven’t really been keeping track so there will be a lot of books missing from this roundup.  Let’s see what we can remember and what overdrive and the kindle remember…

I read a ton of Donna Andrews Meg Langslow mysteries (these are the ones with bird puns in the titles).  They all have the same plot.  The Christmas ones are better than the non-Christmas ones I’ve read.  I did find it suspicious that Meg *always* finds the corpse and is *always* confronted by the murderer near the end.  Until I read one of the earlier Christmas ones in which her dad (part-time coroner, though given the number of murders this small town has per year it’s less of a part-time job than one might think) gets really excited about a body being found and someone makes the comment about how getting a body to do his coroner stuff on is a great Christmas present for Meg’s dad.  Now I’m pretty sure that she’s the mastermind and this is all just an elaborate set of presents for her beloved father.  In one of the later Christmas ones, an out-of-town person who is visiting over Christmas brings a bodyguard and when asked about it he notes the extremely high per-capita murder rate in the town and that it would be crazy not to have one!  So the author has a sense of humor about it.  I think it would be much less noticeable if you read them one per year instead of reading 7 of them in a row.  They are so ridiculous, but also readable.

Dashing through the Snow by Debbie Macomber was a disappointing novel with an irritatingly twee heroine.  The plot could have been entertaining and interesting even ignoring the hero/heroine except the author never really pulled it through.  Basically the heroine has a common name and is mistaken for a terrorist.  If the actual terrorist had shown up and been apprehended this would have been a *much* more entertaining novel.  Instead it’s just treated as a mcguffin even though there was already another mcguffin, needing to get to Seattle from SF ASAP, that would have been enough to get the two together (although Jackie Lau does a much better job of such stories).

DNF Seduce me by Christmas by Alexandra Ivy.  I no longer have any tolerance for heroes who force kisses on heroines, particularly ones they just met, particularly when there’s a power differential.  Got to that scene early on and decided it wasn’t worth it.  Yes, whatever is going on with the hero and his father is probably interesting, but I no longer care about the hero, so…

A Very Levet Christmas by Alexandra Ivy was a pretty cute novella.  I haven’t read the 13 earlier books in the series but that was ok.

I think I’d read How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzie before but it was forgettable then.  It was ok.

I um, can’t remember what I thought about Season for Desire by Theresa Romain even though I’m pretty sure I spent most of my non-childcare time with DH’s extended family reading it.  Aha!  The comments have a better summary of it than does the plot synopsis.  Yes.  This one was pretty good!  There’s some suspension of disbelief needed and if you’re a stickler about historical accuracy this one isn’t for you, but it was a decent read.

Did not care for Four Thousand Weeks.  It seemed to be mostly a lengthy diatribe about why you should get depressed and do less with your life, ending with 10 pieces of kind of trite (but not necessarily bad) advice.  I skimmed quite a bit.  I don’t know why so many of the people on ana-begins blogroll liked it so much.  Did anybody else read it and like it better than I did?

I liked The Unofficial Suitor by Charlotte Louise Dolan.  It was different and a bit Gothic.  I don’t know that any of the individual characters were particularly likable, but as a whole the ensemble worked, though there were a lot of characters and sometimes I had to remind myself who was who.  There are some consent problems, but kind of minor compared to Seduce me by Christmas.  I actually went through a lot of Charlotte Louise Dolan books in a row… most of them were better than The Unofficial suitor, but more similar to the standard historical romance.  I particularly like Lady Leticia, who is a matchmaking figure across many of the books.  Books by Dolan that didn’t have Lady Leticia were not as good.  Fallen Angel was the Dolan book that I liked enough to put on my amazon wishlist.

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik was fantastic but… didn’t resolve the last cliff-hanger and ended on another cliff-hanger.

Read some more Jackie Lau.  They were good.  She’s solid.  I suspect one of these days I will own everything she’s written since she’s become a go-to buy for when I’m out of things that I feel like reading.

Guild Boss was one of the weaker Jayne Castle Harmony books, but still a decent read.

His Wicked Charm by Candace Camp was good enough to try another book by the same author.  I’m currently reading the prequel (book 7… Her Scandalous Pursuit) and it is excellent so far.

I DNF Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas pretty early on because the meet cute was kind of sketchy and not believable– I genuinely do think that people should be able to prevent themselves from seducing potential business partners that they just met even if they get soaked in water and are stuck alone in an empty building together.  Like seriously.  If they had known each other very well already and knew they were attracted, that’s potentially believable.  If they were complete strangers at an inn and thought they’d never see each other again, also potentially believable.  But … ugh…

Reread a bunch of Whyborne and Griffin by Jordan L. Hawk.  Still good.

Read more Melanie Cellier books.  I think the Ugly Duckling one was the one that was a bit cringingly racist where she gave the villains stereotypically Black US names and not the non-villains, even within the same family.  Like, WTF?  (It’s not even realistic since these are “fantasy kingdoms” and people in Morocco or the Caribbean or wherever she’s emulating don’t have African-American names!  The only reason to do that is to make the White Christian people she’s targeting feel foreshadowed since they associate AA names with scariness which is The Worst.)  If not that specific book, then it was another of her books– I stopped reading and regret any money I have given her.

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai was ok.  I think I liked the other two books in the series better.  There’s not as much getting to know each other before marriage in this one. It had a strong start.   They’re both nice people though and the romance was believable, I just wish there were more of it before marriage and a bunch of extraneous sex scenes I mostly skipped (the sex scenes neither fit with the characters nor did they develop their relationship– they felt shoehorned in, and the abrupt marriage felt like it was put in so the author could get to the sex scenes), and then kind of an abrupt resolution.  The extended cast was great though.

A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder by Dianne Freeman was again delightful.  One fun thing about this one was where they did this thing that usually leads to a Deus Ex Machina clue, but instead of that happening, the person was like, you really expect me to remember what happened X decades ago?  Not all clues pan out!  (I bought it on sale– if your library doesn’t own it, you may want to wait for the price to drop, as $13 is a lot for a relatively short kindle novel.)

We listened to the first Andrea Vernon book, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection on Audible on our drive to/from seeing DH’s relatives.  It was hilarious and fantastic and a real indictment of our capitalist society.  The indictment in the first book is subtle, but apparently it’s quite overt in the second book that we decided not to start because after we finished the first book we didn’t have the hours of driving left to listen to the second.  The narrator is brilliant, far better than Zachary Quinto who thankfully sounds less cringey in Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi, which we also listened to, since he got rid of the terrible accent he’d given the female Black Chicago cop in the first book in the series, and having a Chicago mafia person sound like a NYC mafia person isn’t as offensive.  (Btw, Murder by Other Means was fine but not as clever in terms of plot as The Dispatcher).  We laughed out loud a lot in the car.

So all of that probably would have been more helpful before winter break, but …

I have high hopes for the next one of these as several of my favorite series that should have come out before December will be coming out instead before my birthday.  I wouldn’t have had to try so many dumb holiday romances if they’d come out like usual.

What are you reading these days?  These past few months?

Grumpy Rumblings 2021 year in Blogging

Traffic is again a little up compared to last year.  Posts are down a bit (209 this year compared to 210(!)), and comments are also up.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2021:

Two of these are from 2021 (Last year none of them were from 2020!) and, of course, the #1 post is still from students trying to plagiarize a really common composition assignment. We have cornered the market on plagiarizing a short essay about a relative’s wedding.

According to our stats, here’s the most popular posts from 2021:

  • I am not ok
  • Why I don’t want to list my pronouns
  • RBOC from March 1, 2021 (I think this is a first for an RBOC)  This one has a lot of complaining that is also in I am not ok above.  People like complaining!
  • Link Love from Jan 2, 2021 (I think this is a first for a Link Love).  See above comment about people loving complaining.
  • DH’s Delta Trainer/Co-Pilot Review  (DH is still going strong with this and would 100% recommend if you want to get into shape and have time to do so– if there is interest, I can do a post updating.)

Top referring sites were (no change from last year!):

Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & the UK came next.

Our most commented post was Why I don’t want to list my pronouns (note to self for next year:  this stat is now hidden under “insights” and is no longer on site stats) (Thank you previous self!  Also, self next year, it’s been further hidden in the comments part– you have to change to comments by posts and pages where it says comments by authors) (Thank you previous self!)

I can’t get the most active commenters for the year, only for some undetermined amount of time. :( These were the 5 most active commenters on that unspecified amount of time:

1.  Revanche@agaishanlife 60
2.  Debbie M 36
3.  First Gen American 30
4.  Three way tie for 4th:  mnitabach, omdg, Matthew D. Healy 27

Yay Revanche!  This means you get to tell us where to donate our most recent month’s proceeds from amazon sales.  Either tell us and link up in the comments (if you want more exposure) or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail if you want it to be more secret-like.

Any blog commentary or highlights from the grumpy gallery?  Also, congratulate Revanche in the comments.  :)