Writing: Fixing Clue

This game has a huge plot hole that has always bothered me.  IF I am the murderer, why would I be helping solve the murder?  Theoretically, my “character” knows they committed murder – but I, the player, do not (unless the rare time you get your own card at the beginning and know you’re innocent)

Clue, the board game, was originally conceived in 1949 – so we’re talking a game that’s 69 years old.  The hay-day of board games when manufactures were figuring out how to manufacture those tiny pieces reliably and ship them…. Monopoly was 1935, Scrabble 1948, and Candyland was published in 1949 as well.

In case you’ve never played it, the premise of the game is that six people were invited to a house and the host ended up being murdered by one of 6 possible weapons. The six guests are then trying to solve the murder.  But one of these guests WAS the murderer – they know right??

The players don’t.  So if you’re playing “Miss Scarlet” (the red piece) and she’s the murderer- YOU don’t know and you’re trying to solve the murder YOU committed!!

So, I was watching someone play Clue in Minecraft on YouTube and thought about it – what if.  What IF.  Instead of these rich hoity toity people trying to solve it themselves – what if they hired a bunch of investigators! See, the murderer wouldn’t be able to say “well, not ME” because that would have been obvious.  AND they (of course) couldn’t TELL the investigator they hired.  There, plot hole fixed!

Next time (if ever) I play Clue, I am going to use this alternate storyline – at least in my own head even if the other players won’t join in.

Writing: NaNoWriMo

Le sigh.  I want to do NaNoWriMo but with everything going on in my life…. hell 500 words a day has been challenging much less 1,667.

I am pregnant which is one of the most exhausting experiences of my life.  The only other time(s) in my life I slept this much was when I was SICK – bronchitis, pneumonia, and influenza.  It’s almost scary how exhausted I am so much of the time.  How much a nap every day means I get to stay up until the uber late hour of 9pm….  and even that “staying up” is staying awake watching YouTube or anime – NOT doing something actually mentally stimulating.

My husband and I are embarking on tearing out our kitchen (ok, paying someone else to do it) and master bathroom.  It’s been a thing already and we haven’t even touched anything yet – so far it’s just been the shopping around/comparisons and dealing with an incredibly poor communicator at our bank… (I am going to have quite the bit of feedback once we finish this stupid loan process!)

Work for both myself and my husband has been incredibly busy.  I know he’s sometimes frustrated how exhausted I am and the slack I’m putting out is so much falling on him – but end-of-year is always busy for me and this year is no different.  I easily have 5 significant projects (not massive, but quite diverse) to be working on.  And keeping all these projects in the air when I am exhausted has been…. I occassionally feel like I’m rubbing shoulders with Atlas. So things like “dinner” and “dishes” and “laundry” and “the mail” have been falling more on him than I think they should.  I apologize to him, and he is being a saint about not complaining but I know I’m NOT carrying my weight right now.  And his work is incredibly busy as well and I’m having to interrupt to ask bank-related questions.

So my NaNoWriMo goal (unofficial) will be to write 15,000 words this month.  I hate that this is challenging – but right now…. I am going to give myself grace that there is a lot going on and if I can’t do this dishes I might have to give up 1,000 words in a novel too.

Politics: Ga Amendment 1, Portion of Revenue from Outdoor Recreation Equipment Sales Tax Dedicated to Land Conservation Fund Amendment (2018)

This is another easy one.  This initiative allows Georgia to use sales tax from sporting goods to be put in a trust fund for conservation.  Honestly, my mind was made up when I saw it was supported by The Conservation Fund, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Park Pride, and The Trust for Public Land.  Several of those organizations I would trust to support this law if they thought it would actually be useful –  not just a squeeze on people to get money for other uses.

It also will expire in 10 years and can be extended in 10-year increments.  I like laws that expire.  I think there should be a constitutional amendment for any law to have to be re-written/extended in X time.  Any law older than N should be automatically expired (ie those funny laws from the 1800s that are just weird now).  Now, should that be 5, 10, 50, 100 years? I dunno.  I’d want to hear other opinions to settle on that number.  I’d be happy just starting the conversation.

Anywho. This was another easy one – a yes.

Manners: “Caravan” language

I don’t really want to talk about the racism inherent in the discussion of “brown” people “invading” our country.  The UN did a good job talking in broad terms, there are articles comparing it to conversations/books in the mid-1900s, and calling out politicians for using racist language.  It’s definitely part of this conversation, but there is something I want to address that I haven’t seen before.

There has been a lot of conversation in the news about this “caravan” coming up from Central America.  And I realized the other day – this is coded language.   And let me start by defining “coded language” – it is terms or phrases that are designed to bring forth certain cultural images & context (negatively).  Collins English dictionary defines it as “If someone is using coded language, they are expressing their opinion in an indirect way, usually because that opinion is likely to offend people.”

An example of “coded language” is Thug.  (I hate this word so much).  When you read that word – what was the image which popped into your mind?  Was it a young white man sitting on the steps of a college reading a magazine of big-busted ladies with a beer in the other hand?  No….?  What About Frat Boy?  Did that bring forth an image of a young black man leaning on a graffiti-covered wall smoking a cigarette?  NO?

You mean those words are coded to infer an image of a specific type or kind?  That is coded language.  When a news caster talks about “illegal immigrants” or “terrorists” or “protecting family values” – they are inducing an image of something designed to be scary.

Caravan is coded language. You may not even be aware of it, but I was listening to Fox News (yes, I do) and something clicked. I wish I could find the clip, but they said something like, “we’re supposed to believe all these people are just poor and escaping something awful.  You know, like a life a crime and wandering”  Some of it was the image it invoked in MY mind when they said caravan next:

image from Stardew Valley wiki page

Wait, that isn’t anything like the actual images of this “caravan” that’s marching up from Central American escaping death, poverty, and persecution.

image from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/migrants-central-america-caravan-mexico-guatemala-honduras-border-1.4872060

So wait, the image it invoked in me comes with a lot of cultural context.  Gypsies.  So in case you don’t remember, Hitler killed ~200,000 of these folks in his “racial cleansing.”  And don’t think this is “ancient history.”  The genocide is continuing in a new way – taking away their children or not-so-coded language.  This isn’t new or special.  “Gypsies” – the Romani people – “Travelers” – whatever they might be named, have been hated, feared, and hunted for centuries.  Literally.

The symbolism of a group with centuries of persecution isn’t an accident.  Words applied to these refugees are “mob” and “caravan” for a reason and it is coded to incite fear of them in people.  It invokes centuries of cultural coding that “gypsies” (and I am so sorry I keep using that term – I know it’s offensive – but I think it’s important to iterate my point!) are thieves and con artists and scoundrels.  And again, this isn’t ancient history, the TV show The Riches aired in 2007.

So when the news calls this a “caravan” they are purposefully inducing cultural images of thieves and grifters and rapists and murderers… And I wish more new anchors who wished to be supportive would stop calling it a caravan or “so-called-caravan” because that still engenders the negative imagery around the group.  They are refugees.  Call them refugees.  Call them a coterie or a posse (those both have positive connotation in my mind!)  Call it a parade!

I think I am going to start calling them a flock.  As a Christian, this is the only term I think we should use for a group of people in need of care, protection, food, shelter, support… So when you hear people talk about the “oh so scary caravan” correct them.  Call them out on it – this isn’t a caravan.  It’s a parade.  It’s the saddest, most depressing parade the Western Hemisphere has seen in a century and we should be ashamed we aren’t awaiting them with open arms, warm blankets, and kits of food, medicine, and water.

Politics: Ga Amendment 2, Establish a State Business Court Amendment (2018)

This is an easy one for me.  The gist of this bill is to take businesses from elected judges and allow them to go into a court with appointed judges.  And yes, it has to get passed by the State house & senate.  The GA house is currently 115 R to 64 D; the senate is 37 R to 19 D – so I think unless those get pretty drastically changed we will get a “business court” that leans towards businesses.

For me, this bill is 100% about the judges being appointed instead of elected.  I will grant, they only get 5-year “terms” and they have to be approved and blah blah blah.  I am 3-4 steps removed from them and frankly, I’m also kind of pissed the GA wants to build a special place JUST for businesses.  Why not a special court of rapists? Or murders? Or black people? Or women? Or…. it’s bullshit.  If “corporations are people” (grumble grumble grumble) they need to have to deal with the same court system every other person deals with.


Politics:Ga Amendment 3, Forest Land Conservation and Timberland Properties Amendment (2018)

I had no clue how to vote until I looked up what politicians were saying about this particular amendment.  It was so confusingly written (and honestly, that includes the original language they were editing.  UGH).

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?

Who Do What???

Then I read what Governor Nathan Deal said, “Georgia’s working forests generate significant economic investment in our local communities due to the contributions of those who replenish and protect our natural resources. This legislation supports our timber growers and lessens the economic burden of producing quality products that sustain numerous industries, from construction to manufacturing.”[4]

I added the underline.  In my experience this is coded language for “helping my rich buddies.”   See when I looked at the actual text – this applies to timer land 200 acres or more.  200 acres.  That’s a LOT of land.  The cheapest plot I could find listed in GA was 1/4 of a million dollars ($225,000) for just over 200 acres.  (ok, there was one listed for $190k but it wasn’t contiguous.  It was broken up across several plots.  ONLY $190k you guys….)

I also read this write-up by UGA (PDF) and it sounds like it’s making it easier for people with timber on their 200+ acres of land to get tax breaks.  Specifically, “They introduce more options for forest landowners in Georgia when it is time to choose which tax incentive program to use and grant more flexibility to landowners to keep their land in forests.”

What really convinced me how I’m going to vote is this analysis in the Calhoun Times, “f it is not necessary for some compelling purpose to give this tax break, it is questionable whether this one type of property should receive a reduced tax valuation as opposed to other types of real property: homes, factories, stores or farm land.”

Thank God for a lawyer making it make sense.  I agree.  I don’t see a compelling reason (or the law makers have done a terrible job of presenting it) for timber owners of 200+ acres get a tax break no one else gets.  IF this is “conservation” they did NOT explain that AT ALL.

In other words, if I don’t understand an amendment my reaction of “fine, i’ll vote AGAINST” was justified (lol).  This is why I try really hard to find information on these things.  I don’t know about y’all but it’s confusing and frustrating, but finding some other sources…. that helps a lot.

Review: The Veil of Gold

The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins was good, but I can’t quite give it great.  It grabbed me pretty quickly, I didn’t hit 100 pages before I was carrying it around so I could read anywhere I found myself with a few moments.

The characters were interesting.  I wouldn’t give them all kudos on being well-rounded but they were definitely interesting and I really liked that the main male in the novel was in a lot of ways very anti-trope.  He was nervous and uncertain and very kind.  And yet I never would call him “whiny” (ok, not without really good cause– ’cause he had one!) and I would never think he wasn’t a man.

Ok, so let me get straight to my biggest beef.  The ending.  It was abrupt.  There was all this lead up and build and then in like 20 pages tried to tie everything into a bow that ended up being very messy instead of amazing.  The story kind of desperately needed a denouement.  It felt like the author knew she hit her 50k in NaNoWriMo and just tried to wrap it up ASAP instead of giving it the same depth and attention she had given the first 50,000 words.

It wasn’t a “bad” ending per say, just very, very abrupt and jarring in that abruptness.  So much of the rest of the novel had been more of a slow burn to have that sudden explosion and then nothing beyond it…. was jarring.  It’s the best description I have.

The plot was fabulous through 95% of the book.  REALLY compelling and awesome use of Russian folklore and history.  I loved the intertwining of the magical and real worlds.  The way the characters wove worked wonders.  Pun might be intended because of the wondrous nature of the plot….

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairy tales but not to just anyone.  I would definitely say it’s more of 15+ age as there is some graphic language, descriptions of violence (Russian fairy tales are NOT generally nice), and sex – although it isn’t erotic or “sexy” but the topic comes up in enough ways I’d bring the age up a little more than I might otherwise.  If not for the sex & language, I’d probably put this at 13+ and then only because of the complexity of the journey itself.  But anyone who’s read Lord of the Rings (read it, not watched the movie) could definitely get through this book – except for the age-potentially-inappropriate content.

I think overall, I’d give this 3.5 out of 5.  Good, recommended to people who I think would enjoy it – but not a “if you don’t read this you are denying yourself pleasure in this life you should regret” level.