( Talk about my Mom's employment situation, which includes talk of politics and racism )
( Media I'm consuming: the Holocaust, and politics in the Balkans )
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I just...*headdesks with laughter*
My phone's cheapest prepaid plan is $45 through GoPhone, aka AT&T PREPAID (the allcaps are theirs, not mine). I don't, to say the least, have $45 for anything, much less my stupid phone, but we're getting into storm season, I still fear the trees and I happened to drop my LG flip phone - which I kind of fucking adored in its 2G glory - in the toilet the other day and the 3G replacement is such a dud I plan to throw it off the next bridge I come across.
Besides my Windows phone and my bridge-bound dud, I have a tiny Android I haven't used in literally years, so I called Net10, who services it, to ask about plans. Their cheapest is $35, saving me $10 bucks, so I took it (data went from 6GB high speed with rollover to 2GB without rollover; other than that the plans are about the same) only to realize that meant I had to migrate my Windows phone data to Android - mostly contacts, photos and emails (I could be upset about losing call logs and texts but I'm really not, so I haven't sought to restore either one of those).
As I write this Google Drive, aka Backup and Sync (the name change is theirs, not mine, sans the allcaps) is syncing 9,655 files between my laptop and their servers. I decided my folder selection was too aggressive when GUID diagrams for Firefox and my Dell printer began rolling in but whatever. To get this far I had to uninstall Google Drive after merely "upgrading" it to Backup and Sync, which failed miserably, not allowing me to sync the proper folders and basically fubaring everything.
While I was unfubaring the laptop installation, I rolled back Google Drive on Android to its factory-installed settings and broke the sync connection from my laptop, which wiped out all the files on my Android phone's Drive. There weren't many because the Gmail address I use for Android was not talking to the one I use on my laptop so I logged out of GMail on my laptop, logged back in using my Android Gmail address, then installed Drive (now Backup and Sync) on my laptop again. This installation went flawlessly and is syncing away as I write this and slowing my connection to Dreamwidth to a crawl.
When it's finished, I should be able to upgrade Drive on Android to Backup and Sync and pull in the files from my laptop, which should bring over my Windows phone data, because I threw my OneDrive folder in there and it actually let me, which I cannot believe. Getting that done should pull in all the photos on my Windows phone, which are the only data still missing after the work I did last night to pull in everything else.
First I imported my main Outlook account to GMail, but the import was marked "has not started" with a "provide info" link that made me log in again in a small, separate window that barred add-ons like LastPass from running, then told me my credentials were incorrect although after triple-checking them against LastPass I could see all was correct.
So I googled these problems and import will probably never finish based on others getting the same error messages since literally 2009, so I moved down the list to Send Mail As and Check mail from other accounts. Those tasks went as expected, so now my Outlook mail is forwarding to GMail on Android, so I'll never really need to check my Windows phone again. I also have a setting that shows what's coming in off Outlook - but according to the unlabelled emails I'm getting at the moment, it's at least partly malfunctioning, so I'll need to fiddle with that some more.
Once that was done, my Windows contacts synced with Android and GMail started receiving Outlook mail, so things were getting better, but I don't like stock Android, so I was in need of a more ideal solution when I stumbled across Arrow Launcher, which uses "pages" in place of launch icons or home screen widgets to let you see email as it arrives (you can use app icons or pages, but pages are amazing) so I set up an Outlook page as my second home screen (just swipe right) and now I don't even need an app to scan my email (though I still need an app to read the body text).
Unlike any Windows app ever, it doesn't crash (well, it crashed immediately after installing - um, it not only crashed, it removed all my custom settings, but after a phone restart and a redo of all the settings, it seems to work just fine).
To get around Android's ugly stock app I'm using Android Messages; I tried Allo but it's too resource-intensive, so I had to remove it after only a few minutes. That I can't update from Jellybean to the current version is irritating because I want the Ibotta app, which is so far the only app that isn't compatible, but I haven't really "done" apps in my rush to get Windows data onto Android, so I guess I'll see what else fails to play well with it eventually.
For weeks now, friends have been telling me to read 17776, a longform experimental sci-fi story written and designed by Jon Bois. I was resistant because the story is, in general terms, about football. That is to say that it begins as a blog post titled "What football will look like in the future." And I cannot stand sports at all.
But just a quick glance at the beginning of 17776 will tell you that it's not really about sports. The banal football article literally disappears from view as it's swamped by repeating instances of the words "something is terribly wrong."
17776 then unfurls across a calendar, tossing the reader into the future. It's a magnificent use of the internet as a storytelling tool, in a way that I've never seen before. Football does play into the story — narrow swaths of the United States are carved out into football fields that are hundreds of miles long and which host football games that last many years — but it's a backdrop. Eventually, the narrative becomes a Vonnegut-like farce, an examination of the way we think about the future. I'd need to read it again to actually review it; the first experience of 17776 is too exploratory to really collect any meaningful critical thoughts.
But I do have one issue with the storytelling methods in 17776 that hasn't really been discussed much in the public sphere. One of the many attractive things about literature, for me, is that you can read at your own pace. Using certain rhythmic tricks, a writer or a cartoonist can slow a reader down a bit, but the reader ultimately plays the role of the conductor. We set the rhythm, we pause when we want to, we turn back or flip forward, we speed ahead eagerly or linger behind and savor.
The problem with 17776, for me, is too much of the reading experience is swamped with animations, and swaths of the story are told in scrolling text via YouTube videos. To me, that changes the form into something new. When a reader can't read at their own pace — when you can't easily turn back and re-examine lost pieces of dialogue, or when you get bored because the scrolling mechanism isn't fast enough for your tastes — you're not really reading, exactly, anymore. You're experiencing. It's more passive, more like watching TV.
Listen: if you care about sci-fi or experiemental internet storytelling techniques or good fiction, you should read 17776. No matter how you classify it, it's worth your time. And one of the reasons why it's worth your time is that the form opens up important questions about the limitations and strengths of reading. That's an exciting conversation to have.
Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, the Seattle Public Library chose Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House as the Seattle Reads selection — as in, the one book they wanted everyone in Seattle to read this year.
I’m dying to know: if you had the power to make everyone in Seattle read one book, what would that book be?
Dinah, Central District
P.S. If you ever wanted to start your own misanthropic version of Oprah’s Book Club, I’d be a charter member.
I have been sitting on your question for months now and each week, my answer has changed. My favorite recommendations are spontaneous and personal – for instance, a conversation about my dead aunt's newly-discovered secret 70's love child sparked a recommendation to read Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights (not because my cousin should've been aborted, but because my aunt had no safe, legal recourse other than adoption at the time).
So you can understand how encouraging an entire city of people to read just one book is daunting. The kind of people who could answer that question unblinkingly are the kind of people who have only read three books in their lifetime – for them, choosing a favorite is easy.
In past weeks, I would've recommended Amy Bloom's Lucky Us because it is so funny and beautifully written that I have actually confused lines in the book for memories of my own, or Kindred, by Octavia Butler, because Butler lived and died in Seattle and despite her powerful stories, not enough people in the region know her name or worship her writing.
But if I had to choose a book this week, it would be Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert, which is a nonfiction book about the diversion of rivers and damming of the American west. Reading about our untenable water policies is not as fun as reading Bloom or Butler would be, but it is a fascinating and necessary book for westerners. Seattle may not suffer from a water shortage, but it is the de facto democratic capital of the west and should be a leader when it comes to progressive water policy, and this book pretty clearly spells out the ecologic and economic disaster we're going to face if we don't re-evaluate how we use and think about water. Also: the only people I've found who've actually read this book are homeless-looking white men with REI budgets.
Along with a ton of other useful shit, like comprehensive sex ed and how to responsibly handle a credit card, Cadillac Desert is the kind of history lesson that should be taught in schools – or at least discussed among a wider audience than redwood-humpers with briar-patch beards and gear that costs more than my mortgage.