Friday, December 18, 2015

What Must Be Endured

A major theme woven throughout Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is accepting fate. In interviews, he has explained that he thought about how these fantasy epics, tend to all follow a certain chain of events: some farm boy is told, hey, guess what, prophecy says you're the hero of ages, and the fellow pretty much says, oh, okay then, and goes on.

The authors says he doesn't think it would go that way -- in his mind, this guy is more likely to say, Oh really? Let me buy you a drink and you can tell me some more -- then slip out the back while the stranger is occupied.

Still, time after time, throughout the series, the same sentiment crops up: What must be endured, can be endured.

Now, obviously, we in the real world have a handful of phrases and sayings that are similar: God won't give you more than you can handle, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, and the Serenity Prayer, with its bit about 'accepting what cannot be changed' to name a few.

And it goes without saying that, like any little piece of enduring wisdom, they don't encompass the full complexity of reality. People are given more than they can handle, and they die of it. What doesn't kill you sometimes leaves you too weak to handle what does. And even when one has the wisdom to know what one cannot change, sometimes trying to change it anyway is important.

Still, like any sound bite, they are't intended to tell the whole story of life. They're meant to encourage through a hard piece.

As that goes, I really love that all these characters, from their diverse backgrounds, all have such a similar saying for the same thing, and it's something I need right now. I've got some stuff coming up that I'm scared of, and I need the reassurance that getting through it is a thing that will happen. I've been reading and re-reading scenes where Egwene goes through the ter'angreal and must repeatedly have the strength to walk through the arch again, and where Elayne faces trials as the Daughter Heir and Egwene finds the backbone to tell the Wise Ones she lied and then to stand up to the Aes Sedai and refuse to be a puppet -- all this strength. All this enduring. Egwene's strength showing both when she stands up straight before the Aes Sedai, and when she lies on the floor, gripping the ankles of a Wise One, crying and meeting her toh. Strong in both positions.

And I decided to compile a list of the times a character speaks or think some variation on 'What must be endured, can be endured.' It won't be a complete list because I'm actually using the word 'endure' in my Kindle's search function, and I know there are incidences of the phrase using, instead, the word 'borne,' and probably other variations as well.

Even just with the word 'endured' though, there are an amazing number. Here they go. Material in block quotes is all credited to Robert Jordan. The books Brandon Sanderson completed do not seem to hold the phrase, though they do carry the sentiment, so no quotes from those are below.

1. New Spring, Lan.
Lan is laughing (yes, for real) about a guard falling asleep on a boring watch.

He seldom laughed, and it was a fool thing to laugh over, but laughter was better than worrying about what he could not change, such as weary men drowsing on guard. As well worry about death. What could not be changed must be endured.
Comparing worry over trivial things to worrying about death is particularly poignant from a man whose motto says that death is lighter than a feather and duty heavier than a mountain.

2. New Spring, Siuan Sanche

Siuan is telling Moiraine to chill, basically.

"You worry too much," Suian said gently. "My father used to say, 'Change what you can if it needs changing, but learn to live with what you can't change.' You'll only get a sick stomach, otherwise. That was me, not my father."

There aren't exactly a lot of sayings from Suian that don't involve fishing or boats, yet even in her world, we see that this is an enduring attitude. In fact, that brings us to

3. New Spring, White Tower

Moiraine nodded. The Tower taught it's students to live with what they could not change, too. But some things were important enough to try even if you were sure to fail.

Whoa! Isn't that what I said back up there a ways? That's another kind of strength. You may have to endure what you can't change, but you don't have to endure it without a fight.

With that firm foundation, the saying doesn't crop up again so directly until book 6. You can still see the theme in a number of situations, but the next actual occurrence is a while off.

4. Lord of Chaos, Elayne

Elayne is in Salidar. It's hot, and pretty miserable all around. She and the others have gotten used to independence on their travels, and suddenly they're back to being treated like children again, obeying orders instead of giving them. The furniture is broken, and the rooms are certainly nothing like the luxury in which Elayne grew up. An old saying from her childhood nurse firms her resolve to keep marching forward.

No complaining, she told herself firmly. Aes Sedai lived a little better, novices and servants a little worse, and Gareth Bryne's soldiers slept on the ground most often. What can't be changed must b endured. Lini used to say that all the time.

Lini has a lot of great sayings, and a lot of them amount to 'woman up and deal with it.' I might like to compile those later (though I'm sure that's been done somewhere) and talk about them, but for now, she's said the same thing as so many others, in the same words.

5. Lord of Chaos, Rand

Lews Therin is there, in Rand's head. He can't be shaken loose. Not that Rand isn't still trying, sometimes, to silence him, but at other times, he's starting to accept that this voice is something he has to deal with, for now.

Lews Therin laughed maniacally. It did not bother Rand as much as it once had. Not quite as much. What had to be endured, could be.

Again, important, because Rand's struggle with Lews Therin Telemon is not over, but he still accepts that for now, it's a thing to deal with, not to give up over, or to struggle aimlessly against.

6. A Crown of Swords, Perrin

Being treated as a lord is one of the biggest struggles for Perrin. Really. He can crawl in a wolf skin and run around, cleave trollocs in two with his axe, and face a battle he expects to be certain death, but when it comes to being called Lord Perrin, he wants to snap. Sometimes he does. Other times, though, he has a more important goal, and he doesn't waste energy fighting the inevitable. Like now -- he's trying to hold together an army of people who don't like each other very much, and he's just thinking how he'd rather be somewhere that nobody calls him 'lord' when a young man brings him his horse, and calls him "Lord Perrin." Perrin's angry glare causes the man to take a step back.

Perrin made a soothing gesture Not Kenly's fault. What could not be mended had to be endured.
7. Winter's Heart, Faile

This whole story line is especially apt -- it's Faile being careful not to seem like a flight risk, which kind of means, faking meek and sweet, until her opportunity comes for escape from the Shaido. At this particular moment, she's considering a full-fledged attack, but knows the timing is wrong. Instead, she endures being spanked and slapped for speaking to the other captives.

The man had her knives tucked behind his belt. If she could lay hands on just one....! No. What must be endured, could be endured. She intended to escape, not make useless gestures.

8. Winter's Heart, Cadsuane

This is about where I am right now in my current read-through.

Cadsuane is annoyed at Nynaeve for shortcomings including a lack of self control.

And she had not been put through the lessons that what must be endured, could be endured. In truth, Cadsuane sympathized with her. Somewhat. It was a lesson not everyone could learn in the tower

 9. Knife of Dreams, Romanda Cassin

Romanda is irritated at her tentmates, and remembering the selection of Aes Sedai for Sitter of the Hall in Salidar. She's remembering the events, including the necessity of actually more or less campaigning for a seat herself -- when she had been a sitter back in the White Tower. That lack of power, the crowding in her tent, her tentmates' mess -- they're all adding up to an annoyance.

Well, it was done, and that was that. What could not be cured must be endured.

The Gathering Storm has no actual incidences of the saying itself, though there are some excellent scenes that bear out the sentiment. Egwene is back in the Tower, and being beaten regularly to make her break, but she refuses to say she's just an Accepted. She takes everything they dish out, and stands after as though she's bestowing a favor upon her punisher. She refuses to break -- and it's clear that taking the beatings isn't breaking, submitting, or giving in.

The last two books do have scenes where the characters pull through difficult things, but no more that I think belong in this list. (Subject to change as I continue my current read-through.)

So, in 15 books, we have the phrase 9 times, counting only those that use the word 'endure. We get it from the uncrowned king of the Malkieri and a powerful warrior. We see it from a girl who grew up on fishing boats. It's an important lesson in the White Tower, a place that holds some of the greatest power in the world. A lesson taught to the Daughter Heir of Andor at the knee of her nurse. A lesson without which the man who will break and save the world might not survive to fulfill prophecy. A rule a strong man must implement in human interaction. A saying to still the hand of a captive warrior until the timing is right. Something even the Wisdom has to learn. Important in politics.

And not just the phrase -- the sentiment is woven into ji'e'toh, the driving force of a society that raises the fiercest warriors known to man. They say it a little differently -- one does what must be done, and accepts the consequences.

It's woven into every life, from warriors to peasants to queens: What must be endured, can be endured.

And if Egwene can bare herself for a beating to meet her toh, and Faile can stand naked in the snow while she waits to reach her dagger, and Rand can live with another man trying to control his body, and Aviendha can lay down her spears, and Perrin can accept that other people see you the way they see you no matter what.....well, hell, I can get through this little old bitty thing. What must be endured, can be endured. Which isn't to say I should go meekly -- I can still stand up for myself and how I want this all to go. But however it does go, I can get through it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

School Year 2015, Day 4

Day 4, 8-31-15

Library visit. (reading)

H(4th): Saxon math 5/4 page 5
C(7th): Algebra learning app, lesson 1 (still waiting for his textbook)
S(8th): Algebra 2 text, lesson 1 (organizing/representing sets of numbers)

Reading: 1 hour free reading
S: Tom Sawyer
C: Goosebumps
H: Coraline

Science: Quirkology experiments: water surface tension, volume, creating a vacuum

Writing: Describe a time when you had a difficult decision and made the right choice.

History/Social Studies: Listened to podcast on Compton Cafeteria Riots (Stuff You Missed In History Class) and discussed causes of uprisings.

Extracurricular: All three kids participated in a karate class.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Homeschool 2015-16 Days 1-3

We started school Wednesday, two days after the public schools, since C(7th) and H(4th) didn't get home until Monday.

Wednesday, Day 1: Impromptu field trip to the aquarium. Enjoyed the animatronic dinosaur display, talked with sea turtle rescue team. H wants to volunteer when she's old enough.

Spent time on the drive reviewing last year's math, ensuring we're ready to move on for this year.

Thursday, Day 2: Started a crossover project. Kids are to research current events, list 10 or more important issues in presidential race, and write an essay explaining the 3 most important issues, in their eyes. (Writing, Social Studies)

All kids also spent time observing a local artist at work. (Social Studies/Community Awareness)

Friday, Day 3: S(8th) and C took feedback on their first drafts for their presidential papers, and began final drafts. We did not address any factual concerns at this point, only grammatical and technical. (Writing) (Next week we will address a few factual errors in a Social Studies lesson.)

 H began an investigation into a health question she had the previous night: Why does the stomach growl when hungry? She researched online and took notes, then explained the phenomenon in her own words in a few paragraphs. (Research, Writing, Health/Biology)

Our textbooks have been ordered but the delivery was delayed, so for math, S and C were each given review questions from last year's textbooks to be sure they're prepared for new material. C still needs to review a few more topics. Today he addressed multiplying and dividing fractions. Next week, he'll review multiplying and dividing decimals. After that, he seems prepared to move on. S wanted to review geometric formulas -- circumference of a circle, etc. He is prepared to move on, and his textbook will hopefully arrive tomorrow. (Math)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why I Don't Want To Be A Verizon Customer Anymore

So, my Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini has had problems since I bought it back in August. I don't know whether it's a horrible phone, or whether I bought a defective one, or, hell, whether I used it wrong and made it bad. (Verizon has an opinion on which of those three it is, I can tell you.)

But they were relatively minor problems, and I wrote them off -- after all, I chose the cheaper phone, and you get what you pay for, right?

So, when it started freezing almost every time I played Words With Friends, I just played WWF less often, and eventually quit altogether. When it froze and told me that 'unfortunately, messaging [had] stopped' I shut it and tried again. When it repeatedly told me (like 8 times a day) it was sorry that VZWAVS Service had stopped, I told it okay, and went on.

On Tuesday night, though (for reference it is currently Friday), it started a new game.

It said it couldn't detect a SIM card, and that it would need to restart. Okay, no prob, restart.

It did, and I noted the battery was low, so I went to plug it in. It informed me that using the wrong charger was dangerous to my device, and that, accordingly, charging had been stopped for my protection. I should please only use the charger included with my device.

This was something of a surprise, since I was using the charger that came in the box with my phone.

Okay, so I cross the room and plug in to Justin's charger. Nothing. It doesn't start charging, it doesn't talk to me about wrong chargers. After a moment, it tells me there's no SIM card.

Huh. My SIM card must be loose or something. I open the phone, take it out, look at the contact points, see no problems, put it back in. Put the battery back in, turn on the phone, and plug it in -- in the kitchen, with a Kindle charger. It charges.

In the morning (now Wednesday) I pick it up. Unfortunately, it says there's no SIM card, and my device will now restart to look for one.

Throughout the day, I google. Someone had this problem and cleaning the contact points with alcohol helped. We have no alcohol in the house, so I'm not trying that one. Someone had it and Verizon replaced their SIM card five times, and it still doesn't work. They finally had to replace the device. Someone had the same problem and their SIM card was loose - a small piece of paper tucked next to it fixed it. Someone else fixed it by blowing it out like an old Nintendo cartridge.

I tried blowing, and I tried a piece of paper. No go.

Wednesday afternoon, I needed to text Justin. I restarted the phone and sent a text. The phone announced that it had no SIM card, and that the message could not be sent. He responded to it, though, so it must've been sent.

When he got home and I had access to his phone, I called Verizon.

First I was told this would be an insurance issue -- which meant it would cost me $100. I said I ddn't have $100 to spend on it, and he said, "Oh, well, let me transfer you to tech support."

I said, "I thought you were tech support."
"Yeah, but we have tiers, so maybe a higher level than me can help you."

(Shouldn't that have been suggested BEFORE the pay-up option?)

So this guy says he'll send me a new SIM card, also that it isn't a insurance issue at all, it would be a warranty issue -- so if a new SIM card doesn't fix it, it can be replaced for free. But actually, he would rather -- instead of him sending me a new SIM, why don't I go into a store. It'll be the same thing but faster.

Going into a store means an hourish drive. I don't have the time and money to take an hourish drive right now, if I can help it. Okay, he'll send it, but I won't get it until Monday. Tough luck. If you get the chance before then, go into a store.

On Thursday, we have a water pipe bust. Unrelated, and we used Cay's phone to contact someone, but it just ticks me off that at that point, I'm paying for a phone I can't use, when I NEED it.

Also on Thursday, I remember there's another SIM card in a box in the cabinet -- because I got a new phone (not this one, an insurance replacement before it) a while back and swapped my old card into it, not realizing it had come with one. I decide to try it.

My phone is really really sorry that it can't find a SIM card, and will not be restarting to look for one.

So.....replacing SIM card? Not the fix.

Today, I decide we'll go to the aquarium, because I'm going to lose my mind if I listen to another minute of mindless television, and apparently when I wasn't looking a law got passed that the noisy idiot box has to be on 24-7.

So, we head out....and I remember there's a Verizon in KDH now. I'd forgotten. It's in the old Taco Bell building. You know what? Let's go there instead. Luckily, through sheer force of habit, my phone is in my pocket.

We go.

I explain my SIM problem. They wonder if the device is okay other than that. Well, no, now that you ask, actually I've had problems with it since I got it. What are they? Blah blah, freezing, service has quit, etc. Okay!

She tries a different SIM card. It doesn't work. Still says it can't detect a SIM.

She ends up CALLING TECH SUPPORT. Where she learns that the Google + app actually causes that VZWAV Service popup for a bunch of people, and I need to uninstall updates and also never let it update again. Here, she'll fix it for me. Now it won't update unless I give it permission.

Okay, great, so the SIM card....well, the wrong IMEI number is in the system. Here, she'll copy the one from the phone. Gosh, it's so hard to read, and looks peeled off.

I'm not sure what she's trying to insinuate here. She calls someone else over to read it for her. They pick at the corners and tell me it has peeled off.

For the record, I'm looking at it as I type this, and it isn't peeled and is clear as day to read. In the image below, I've covered a large portion of the numbers with a torn paper scrap, because I'm not clear on which, if any, of the numbers are proprietary or private in any way, but left enough you can see the numbers are readable, and that the corners aren't peeled at all. (The greenish corner isn't peeled; it's actually a greenish black color. Unfortunately these are taken with my Kindle because my camera is dead, so they're not as clear as they might be.)

After some struggle, she gets the number changed in the computer. Look! Now it works! It's even faster than it was before!

Oh! She sees the problem! It's the water damage!

Um, beg your pardon? Water damage?

Yeah, but you know, I mean, that can just happen, like, see these strips? They should look like this. She shows me the moisture sensors in my phone and hers. Hers are covered with pink x's. Mine are not. But see, she explains, even if you, like, use it in the kitchen while you're cooking, like if there's steam in the air, that can do that.

I said, "So wait, you're telling me my warranty gets voided if I basically use my phone in the kitchen?"

Well yeah, yeah, it can.

The other dude in the place rolls over, looks at my phone and says, "Nah, that was submerged. That device was submerged."

I respond. "No. The device has not been submerged."

"Yeah, cause you can tell when it's been submerged. Those pink x's are completely gone."

Look, we all know the moisture strips are a scam. Phone reps have admitted on the internet that they can go blank from being in your pocket while you work. It's bullshit. And I know this.

So now my kids speak up, clearly speculating. Maybe the baby drooled on it. Maybe the baby got it one time when I didn't know and dropped it into the sink.

They are obviously making up guesses, trying to be helpful.

But she goes, "Ohhhh, is someone making up stories? That's oddly specific."

Excuse the hell out of me? Their very diverse guesses are oddly specific? I know when I left, they said something like, "She tried to claim it wasn't submerged, but her kids told on her! Haha!"

But it was NOT! These were guesses! They made up half a dozen different things that could have happened!

There are a number of other little comments like this throughout, about the water damage, and how you just have to keep them out of the bathroom and kitchen, hahaha, and if they fall in the water, you know, that's the warranty. Understand that these nasty snipes are interspersed between comments about how beautiful my baby's big eyes are, and how well-behaved my big kids are, and similar.

So, she hands the phone to me. All fixed! I open it to take a picture of Harmony, who has been drawing with chalk and has it all over her face.

My phone is sorry it will have to restart now, because it cannot detect a SIM card.

I show the lady. Oh gosh, well, that'll all be fixed when my new one comes in the mail on Monday.

Um, wait, changing the SIM card didn't fix it before, either when you did it here or when I did it at home. Why would it fix it on Monday?

Well, she'll sell me a SIM card for $25 if I want to try it, or I can wait for Monday. Either way, she's so glad she could help me. But, it's still....I show it to her. Yep! She's got it going for me, just wait for my new card Monday and I'm all set!

Okay, but clearly the SIM card isn't the problem?

"Well, don't forget, there's the water damage too, so that probably had a part in it."

Um...bye? I leave.

Two minutes away, I'm so upset I call Verizon to cancel my line. Unfortunately, that'll cost me $160 bucks, so I don't do it. (The guy was very apologetic and did give me a $40 credit, saying maybe it would compensate me some for my time and gas for the wasted trip.)

At this point, though, I have no more use for Verizon or Samsung. This is my second Samsung phone, and the first one had issues too. I have had a very good relationship with Verizon before now. They've been excellent, fixed problems quickly, and generally not been assholes, which is more than I can say for some phone companies I've worked with. (I had an Altell rep lie to me about when my contract was up. I spoke to a different rep, and learned that it was 16 months sooner than she claimed.)

But yeah, I got basically accused of lying, and handed a 'fixed' phone that still doesn't work, and wasted four hours of my life being talked down to and nastied at. And I'm still stuck with a phone that does not work, that I have to pay for for four more months, and that won't be replaced under warranty.