And the Poop Just Keeps on Coming

I realize that this title could appear to refer to any number of things at this moment in time. What’s Bryce blogging about today? Could it be the Trump tapes? The wildfires in the west? The Corona crisis? What does he mean when he says “poop”?

I mean poop, folks. As in puppy poop. Which believe me, is a much more immediate problem in my life at the moment.

We thought we had Ferris down at this point. He would let us know when he needed to be let out. We’d take him out, he did his business, and we’d bring him in. At night, we’d take him out one last time, then take him out again once in the middle of the night, and we’d be good to go.

Reader, we were most definitely not “good to go.”

These days, Ferris likes to go to sleep about 8 o’clock each night. It’s a long, tiring slog, biting your family and generally demanding attention for every moment you’re awake. I can relate to his feeling. So he passes out somewhere underneath the table or a chair, oblivious to the world. Last night, Tomas woke him up and dragged him out at 10pm for a last chance at voiding the bowels. Ferris was Not a Fan of the idea. He refused to do anything, so Tomas took him inside to put him into his cage.

As near as we can figure, that was when Ferris decided sleeping was no longer an option. He’d had a nap, and it was time to play. Commence the barking and yapping! Tomas, as instructed, left him in his cage and went to bed. When Denisa got up at 2:30 for the nightly walking of the dog, she discovered a dog that had become encased in a coating of poop. (We think he probably pooped the cage in the middle of all his barking protest at 10pm.) So she took him out, cleaned him off in the bath, cleaned out his cage, and took him outside, where he proceeded to sit down and do nothing. “Poop? What poop? No need to poop, ma’am. It’s the middle of the night. What sort of an animal do you think I am?”

So she did what any right thinking woman would do: she brought Ferris back to his cage. But this was no longer a sleepy Ferris. This was a freshly bathed Ferris, ready for action (as long as it didn’t involve pooping outside). He began barking and protesting again, but Denisa was (naturally) exhausted, and went back to bed.

When Daniela got up at 5:45am to take Ferris out, she discovered (spoiler!) a dog that had become encased in a coating of poop. (Once again, most likely deposited during all his barking protests at 3am.) So she took him out, cleaned him off in the bath, cleaned out his cage, and took him outside, where he proceeded to sit down and do nothing. “Poop? What poop? No need to poop, ma’am. It’s the stupid o’clock in the morning. What sort of an animal do you think I am?”

This is, naturally, more than a little discouraging. The kids are back in school, work is back in full swing, and right when we need all hands ready for battle, the puppy’s stuck on the poop deck.

We have, of course, come up with a new strategy. Tonight, the plan is for Ferris to go to sleep in his cage at 8pm, and for us to leave him there until he wakes up and begins to whine. (Yes, we’re resorting to a baby monitor, the very same technique I marveled that my brother would resort to with his puppy, just a few short weeks ago.) If he wakes up because he has to poop, then (call me crazy) maybe he’ll actually poop when he’s taken outside right away, and then he’ll (theoretically) not be so ready for partying right afterward, because he won’t have taken a bath. (You wake me up at 3am and put me in the shower, and I’m going to be pretty wide awake when I try to go back to bed as well.) This continues to rest on the assumption that Ferris would prefer not to be encased in a coating of poop. I recognize he might have developed a taste for it at this point. If that’s the case . . . we’ll figure something else out.

Wish us luck. We will, most assuredly, need it.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

On Willful Ignorance

More and more, I’m seeing people who object to the idea that perhaps racism is still a problem America is actively dealing with. I’ll illustrate this with a case in point: up in Bangor a few months ago, five Black students at the high school came forward to attest to the fact that they had experienced racists attacks during their time at school. Specific instances, like being called the n-word in the middle of basketball games, or having other students defend white supremacy and slavery in the middle of class. (Mind you, folks: this is in Maine. You don’t get more north than this without a whole lot of Canada.)

It was upsetting to hear of those experiences, and disappointing to think it’s happening here in Maine, but not really surprising or unexpected. (We just had a BLM protest canceled in Portland due to death threats against the organizers, after all.) There have been many other instances of racism I’ve seen reported in the media, from slurs to outright attacks. But I hoped that with all the attention and newfound support for ending racism, this trend would diminish in Maine.

Cue today, where a student and his parents got upset that a teacher in the high school was addressing privilege and bias head on. The student filmed some of the teacher’s lesson:

In the shared video clip, the teacher talked to students about how race and gender shape their identities and their treatment in society. As a white woman, the teacher explained, she does not face racial discrimination but has faced sexism.

“The fact that my race is white is part of my privileged identity,” she said. “Race is not something that gets in the way of me getting a job or puts me in danger, whereas my gender being female is something I have to think about and might be one of my more targeted identities.”

They then took that clip and shared it online in pro-Trump Facebook groups, and suddenly you had people clamoring for that teacher to be fired.

I’m baffled that people would object to this line of reasoning in the first place, though (again) I suppose I shouldn’t be. There have been times in the past that I have written about seeing prejudice or sexism at work first hand, only to have people show up in the comments section claiming that they’ve never experienced anything like that, and so they doubt that it could be true. (In my case, it was talking about sexism among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’d seen it. I’d talked to plenty of people who had experienced it. Yet there were multiple women who came forward after I wrote the post to say that they had never seen any sexism in the church, and to call my statements into question because of that.)

There just seems to be a lack of imagination for some people. An apparent inability to be able to think for a moment that their small slice of life experience might not be 100% applicable to the experiences everyone else is going through. In many ways, I try to think of it like when I learn a new word. I could have sworn I’d never heard that word before I learned the definition, but as soon as I know the definition, I start hearing the word in conversations all over the place. It’s not some big conspiracy. I just leveled up my vocabulary, and so I was suddenly capable of understanding more than I was before.

Though it’s not just that. I think the very idea that racism and sexism (or other isms) are present in our society is threatening to some people. Because we like to think of ourselves as good people. If our society still has flaws, that might lead to the conclusion that we have flaws and that we are not as good of people as we would like to think. Even worse, it might mean we need to change what we’re doing, and change is hard.

I don’t hold ignorance against people. I don’t think it’s fair. If someone truly doesn’t know about something, then it’s unjust to judge them for that hole in their knowledge. However, what I’m seeing more and more is willful ignorance. When a person decides to ignore facts or other people’s experiences, or dismiss them as invalid because they contrast with their own experiences, then they stop simply being ignorant and move into more dangerous territory. Once you’ve embraced willful ignorance as a way to deal with problems, it becomes easier to turn to it time and time again to solve other difficulties. Worse yet, you begin to doubt any evidence that goes against what you’re already inclined to believe, until you get to the point that anything that contradicts your worldview can be dismissed without even looking twice at it. At that point, I’m not sure you can be defined as willfully ignorant anymore, because you’ve stopped even looking at anything that might put your ignorance in danger. Let’s call this “stubborn ignorance.”

So what do we do about the stubborn ignorant? Or worse yet, those people who have learned the trappings of this conflict and try to use those trappings to justify their continued ignorance (or at least their continued actions)? For example, once someone knows the term “gaslighting,” they can use it to justify just about anything. If I have never seen (or at least acknowledged) racism at work in my country, I can accuse anyone who says it’s present of gaslighting. “My country isn’t racist. You’re trying to get me to believe something that doesn’t exist. Stop gaslighting me!” And then the argument moves away from anything remotely threatening to the core of a person’s actions or beliefs, centering instead on just what “gaslighting” means and who is or isn’t doing it.

I’m not sure what else to add to this. The points are probably lost on those who might benefit from them the most. But of course, I believe Americans live in two seemingly contrasting realities at this point. It’s like a sports rivalry, where anything the other team does or says is automatically wrong, except played out in real life, where actual lives are at stake. I can see there’s a problem. Others can see there’s a problem. But the people we need to actually see a problem refuse to acknowledge such a problem exists. As if we needed one more thing to be depressed about . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

First Day of School, COVID Style

It’s a week later than we would have been having the kids go back to school, but they’re officially started now. It’s crazy to think about everything that’s happened since their school went on a planned two week “pause” back in March. That two weeks turned into the rest of the year, and the summer is gone by now as well. I’m grateful to be living in a part of the country where there are still low numbers. (6 active cases in my county at the moment. 53 total since this started, with 1 death. Our population in 2010 was just over 30,000. On the New York Times tracker, that puts us at .6 cases per 100,000.)

Tomas (11th grade) will be going to school in person every Monday and Tuesday. The other three days of the week, he’ll be attending all his classes synchronously (Wednesday and Thursday are for the second half of the alphabet to go in person, and Friday everyone is virtual). MC (2nd grade) and Daniela (7th grade) will be going in person every other day. The days they’re not there in person, they’ll be working on their studies asynchronously. For now, there are no after school activities, although sports is still up in the air. (For the record, I will be disappointed if football is allowed to proceed but things like music and drama are not. If they can make sports work, they can make other activities work. I believe solutions could be found.)

I have no idea how this will all work in practice. I believe our school district has gotten grant money that should pay for laptops for all kids from 7th grade up. It should be . . . interesting to see how each class handles the different constraints. I try to be as good of a support structure for my kids as I can, but we’re heading into uncharted waters now. Who knows how it will all shake out.

But really, I’m happy to have some semblance of normalcy returning to our lives, even if it’s also in many ways unsettling. We’ve all been home together for so long that it felt very strange to think we’d all be heading different ways today. (Ferris, our puppy extraordinaire, is not happy with the change. I’m working at home today, and I finally had to put him in his crate. There’s only so much attention I can give a puppy and still get work done. We’ll have to see how that goes too . . .)

Anyway. That’s all I have time for today, but here’s hoping this is the start of a successful school year, even if it will be very different.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: Downton Abbey

I don’t think anyone goes into the Downton Abbey movie expecting to be changed for life or meaningfully impacted in some way. (At least, if they do, I’d kind of like to talk to them to figure out what exactly made them set those expectations for the film.) It’s been on HBO Max for the last while, and I’ve seen it there, and I always just came up with something else I’d rather watch. Downton seemed very . . . “not now” to me. Something I enjoyed for its time, but which was over.

However, Denisa was a bit more committed, and she managed to get me to agree to watch it. (Full disclosure: I had been excited to hear the film was coming, and I’d intended to see it in theaters. Life got in the way, and my enthusiasm dwindled.) Would I really enjoy returning to the characters for a feature length outing?

Yes. Yes, I would.

The film felt like the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. Better yet, comfort food that wasn’t riddled with too much soap (opera), like the show tended to do from time to time. Was the premise a bit of a stretch? Yes. “The king is coming to Downton! But the staff is going to be shoved to the side by the king’s staff.” Will they be able to find a way to serve the king anyway? Of course they will. Will it be believable? Of course it won’t. Will you care? You’re watching a Downton Abbey movie. Of course you won’t.

I thoroughly enjoyed heading back to Downton. It reminded me of all the things I liked about the show. The characters were consistent and well played again, even if the whole thing felt like one long bit of fan service. (Probably because it was, duh.) That said, I will give the show full props for managing to make the elite be both snobbish and likable. That’s a very hard feat to carry off, and I think they manage it by setting out the rules by which these people live their lives. You understand there are constraints, and then you can see that they are good people living within those constraints. It’s a great technique.

In any case, if you’re a Downton fan, you should watch this movie. If you aren’t, you’re probably safe staying away. Let’s just call it what it is: the grownup equivalent of a Pokemon movie. Watch it. Enjoy it. And then maybe go easy on your kids when they want to go watch a My Little Pony movie or something. 7/10.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

New Nominations for Rules of Civility

As part of my semesterly “tour of classes” routine, I visited a class today that was discussion George Washington’s Rules of Civility. This was a list of 110 different rules that Washington had copied out by hand (probably from a French translation of those rules) by the time he was sixteen years old. They’re generally guidelines to follow when you want to be polite in public, and they contain things like #10: “When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them” and #44: “When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.”

As you might expect, a number of them seem far too proper and stuffy for today’s social scene. (Though a number of them definitely still apply.) I was wondering what such a list would consist of today, and thought we might crowdsource it a little. First, what are some nominees from the list that you feel should still be on it today? One that I saw would be #82: “Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.” I mean, to me that’s just common sense. I always try to under promise and over deliver. I want to make sure people have expectations I can meet or exceed, rather than the other way around. When you lead people to believe you can do more than you’re capable of, it can sour a lot of relationships. And that’s silly, because you’re the one setting yourself up for failure in those conditions. True, someone might be taken in by someone who promises the moon, but sooner or later those promises come due . . .

So that’s my nominee for “rule that should remain.” My nominee for “rule that should be added” would be something that seems pretty obvious to me as well: “Don’t make death threats.”

Seriously, people. I don’t know who’s out there thinking it’s okay to threaten to injure or kill a stranger on the internet, but I do know that people on the left and the right both get these death threats all the time. Has the “anonymous death threat” somehow taken the place of “signal to show I’m really upset and want to make sure you know that”? Because if that’s the case, that needs to stop now.

A bit ago, a movie on Netflix made a big splash for a controversial poster. The film’s about an 11 year old who joins a dance team (or something), and despite it not being about anything really that controversial, Netflix had the “genius” idea to market it as a film about an 11 year old girl twerking competition, with a poster of sexually posed 11 year olds to match. It was a boneheaded marketing stunt, and it caused a large number of people to call for a boycott of Netflix and the movie.

It also, apparently, inspired people to send death threats to the director. Look, this post isn’t defending a movie I’ve never seen and never intend to watch. (Even if it’s not about a twerking dance competition, there’s nothing in that movie that sound remotely like “Bryce would like this.”) But let’s assume it really was a movie about a bunch of tweenagers twerking their hearts out. Definitely not okay, but worthy of a death threat?

Certainly not.

I can’t think of anything that *is* worthy of a death threat, honestly. And yet somehow people are lobbing them around with abandon. No idea how we can get that trend to stop, but I sure do wish it would. Going from “debate” to “death threats” in under 3 seconds isn’t going to do anyone any good.

What would your nominees be?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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