A brief note about tomorrow’s E-Learning lesson

It is possible that I have lost my shit, to some degree or another.

I am pretty certain that if I record another damn YouTube video about math tonight my organs will shut down out of spite and I will die. And I had another ten kids (about a quarter of the total number of kids who did today’s assignment, which is about a quarter of the total number of students I have) get zeroes on today’s assignment despite carefully going over each problem they were given in today’s video.

And I have no way of knowing– I have my suspicions, of course, but I have no way of knowing– which of those ten or so kids just went through and clicked several answers at random because they didn’t give a shit or whether the way I’m trying to teach them just doesn’t work, and the lack of feedback from the kids that is inherent to “distance learning” is just fucking with my head do a degree that I’m not even sure I can describe. I cannot do my job like this. My job involves people, not computer screens.

I can’t do it tonight. So I’ve declared– officially, on my Google Classroom page, mind you, where I post all of my assignments– that tomorrow is a mental health day and they are to take the 20-30 minutes they are supposed to be spending on my class and do something that they find relaxing instead. Because fuck it, nobody’s paying attention and no one is going to tell me I can’t.

*Cough*

Had to leave the house today to run some errands– two banks, interacting with the tellers through vacuum tubes, the pharmacy for a new supply of my supplemental Yeah It’s A Bad Day Let’s Take These Too brain meds, also interacting through a vacuum tube, Arby’s, where stuff was passed through a window, the post office, where I did actually have to don my mask and go inside, and Target, which was by far the least necessary of the trips but I ordered my stuff online and had them pick them up for me and then when I walked in the kid who had actually done the shopping and was at the register was a former student, so it was literally “Oh, hi, Mr. Siler! Were those AirPods for you? Let me go grab them,” and I was out. I had a mask on for the Target and post office visits– the same one as last time but folded differently, and I was able to keep my pulse under control but I still had to force myself to calm down after the Target trip.

I’m not even sure why I bought the AirPods, although I’ve managed to convince myself over the last few days that they had their uses around the house, particularly now that I never drive anywhere. Listening to stuff in bed is going to be a lot easier now that I don’t have to be tethered to the phone, for example. They’ll make a few things a bit less unwieldy; I don’t know if it was enough to justify the cost but every other damn thing I own has an apple on it so whatever. I have the money.

Since I got home, my stress level has been through the roof, and not for any good reason, although I think it might have something to do with the fact that … heh, yeah, I was gonna say “life felt normal for a while,” except I was wearing a fucking bandanna on my face in the post office and I didn’t go into the grocery store so that I could minimize the number of actual humans I spoke to while I got my brain drugs from the pharmacy, and after I got my Arby’s I ate it in my car in the Target parking lot like a God damned animal rather than going inside because you can’t do that anymore, so no, none of this shit is normal, none of it at all.

(By the way, I cast my primary ballot today, which wasn’t the only reason I had to go to the post office, but still got mailed along the way. After thinking about it for a while, I voted for Warren. I don’t feel bad about this decision.)

I’m gonna play D&D with my wife and son in a bit, and then I’m gonna record tomorrow’s e-learning lesson, and then I’m gonna take one of those happy brain pills and go to bed, and hope tomorrow is better, because I spent two hours this afternoon after I got home sitting in a chair and staring at TikTok and hating every second of it and that is no way to spend your damn time.

Ugh. 2020 is stupid.


6:14 PM, Monday April 27: 985,374 confirmed cases (though I’ve seen reports in other places that we’re over a million already) and 55,906 Americans dead.

A Comprehensive List of Things I am Currently Boycotting

So apparently a few months ago a butter company changed their logo, and somehow it took until recently for conservatives to notice and they’re pretending to be mad about it? I refuse to believe that anyone actually cares about a butter company’s logo so, much like the butter, I’m taking the whole thing with a fair amount of salt, but I’m sure there are videos online somewhere of people dramatically setting their tubs of Land O Lakes on fire or some shit like that. Conservatives like to show their tribal loyalty by destroying things they already paid for for some reason. There’s gotta be something out there somewhere.

But it got me thinking: I am, ultimately, a relatively petty person. There have to be some good examples of shit that I’ve gotten mad about and boycotted that really wasn’t worth the energy. Now, I can’t think of any, but maybe someone else can, and I’ve definitely got one in mind that is questionable. We’ll see what else I can come up with; I reserve the option to add to this list as things occur to me for the next little while.

Also, “boycott,” to me, means that I am deliberately not buying products from these places or people, and were it not for the boycott, I would be. I am not, for example, boycotting the NFL or Hobby Lobby, because I have never given a shit about pro football one way or another and I don’t even quite know what the hell Hobby Lobby sells. I might have been in there once for some sort of teacher-related thing at some point but they aren’t getting my money anyway just because I don’t have any reason to go in there.

Here we go:

Chik Fil-A. This is actually the big one; I love their food. A lot. But the organization is too goddamn homophobic for me to spend any money there any longer, although I do have to refrain from arguing with people still when they denigrate the food.

Subway. Somebody at Subway put a plastic glove into my drink once, and I haven’t been back since. That said, this one only sort of counts, because I’m really only avoiding the restaurants owned by that franchisee, which are only in town. If I was out of town and I wanted Subway I’d have it. And the truth is I haven’t missed them all that much. The problem: is this actually a boycott? Like, I literally found foreign objects in my food and stopped eating there because of it. I don’t know if it counts.

Books by Orson Scott Card and Dan Simmons. In both cases I had read several of their books and enjoyed them prior to finding out what jackasses the authors were in their real lives; there are probably a number of staunch conservative creative people whose work I avoid— the Dilbert shithead and the dudes behind the Rabid Puppies and Comicsgate come to mind, but these two are the only ones whose work I previously liked and who I have dropped. Similarly, it’s not really a boycott if I just read one of your books and decided you suck.

Movies involving Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson. Gibson, of the two, is more of a genuine boycott, as Cruise hasn’t been in a lot that I’ve liked, and if he were to release a new film that I genuinely wanted to see I might go ahead and go. Of the two, I find Cruise to be far less repellent of a human being as well. And, again, there are a lot of actors and/or directors whose work I avoid, but these two are the only ones I can really say I’m boycotting. I was never gonna see any Woody Allen movies anyway, y’know?

For a while I was refusing to buy Marvel’s Star Wars comics, because they fired Chuck Wendig in what I felt to be a deeply shitty fashion. I was buying several of the books at the time and I dropped all of them when it happened. Fast-forward a few months later, and Wendig appears to be over it and I got sucked back in after a while. Unfortunately, because of coronavirus-related supply-chain nonsense, I haven’t bought any comic books at all in a month or so, and I miss them less than I thought I was going to? It may be that I’m only still buying comic books regularly out of habit and because I like the people who own my local comic shop so much.

Ooh, speaking of comics, this probably counts: I stopped buying books at All-Star Comics and Cards, my childhood comic shop, because I found out about some comments one of the co-owners made about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was forced to publicly tell the dude to go fuck himself. This one no longer counts either because the store is closed now, and has been for years, and the guy who originally owned the place and who I owed my actual loyalty to had retired a year or so prior to this happening. But that was what finally drove me to find a comic shop in Chicago, because Darin wasn’t getting another dime of my money.

I feel like none of these are as ridiculous as “they changed their packaging,” though. There has to be something. Frankly, I feel like there have to be more places than this, but hell if I can think of any right now. Like I said, I’ll edit later if I come up with something else.


6:51 PM, Sunday April 26: 963,379 confirmed cases and 54,614 American deaths. I had initially speculated it would take to Wednesday to get over a million cases; we may not make it through Monday the way this has been going.

In which I embrace the lazy

After I get this post written– because God forbid I not get a blog post written– I intend to be exceptionally lazy for the rest of the day, even by recent standards. I have a feeling that this is going to be a rough weekend mentally and the most difficult thing I want to have to worry about for the next 48 hours or so is preventing myself from blowing any more money on dice this weekend. I literally– this is not a joke, it happened– dreamed about dice last night. I’m fucked up in my brain-parts, I know. I can’t explain it.

But there are books to be read, and video games to be played, and technically I cooked breakfast today so I’ve had at least one Real Meal. I probably need to do something to keep the boy alive– did you know kids are supposed to be fed every day?– but beyond that … eh. It’s Saturday, and I’m in quarantine. I’m gonna Saturday today.


2:24 PM, Saturday April 25: 924,576 confirmed cases and 52,782 American deaths.

Another short one tonight

It’s weird that taking attendance for e-learning takes longer than doing my grading, right? Because grading is just grading, and because I’m doing everything electronically and I’m a math teacher I’m able to grade almost everything automatically, and attendance is a hideous nightmare involving two different online programs and a spreadsheet as well as backdating everything when kids do assignments from two weeks ago. Which means that every time I do my grading and my attendance I have to check every assignment I have given since this started. And, okay, it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a teacher or anything, but have you ever had to remember to click something in one place if someone is not clicked in another place? It melts your brain and your eyes after a while, and I was sitting here for probably about 2 1/2 hours tonight getting this done. Attendance in school takes less than a minute per class.

My overall numbers are scary and getting scarier; I’m averaging about a third of my students checking in on any given day, which is … not great, at all, and I expect there to be even more attrition by the end of the year even if it has been shortened. Maybe if I figure out a way to unlock a TikTok video or something every time they do an assignment … ugh. The math team had a meeting today that ended up lasting an hour and a half because we got to talking about what we were going to do this fall if the school year started without the kids in the building, which I am pretty damn convinced it is going to. The long and short of it is none of us have any idea how the hell to handle that, and we’re all terrified of it.

So, yeah, that’s all fun.


8:56 PM, Friday April 24th: 890,524 confirmed infections and 51,017 American deaths. What day next week do we cross over a million infections, do you think? Wednesday?