In which that’s just, like, your opinion, dude

I didn’t actually intend for that survey to be yesterday’s only post, but Life intervened, and I didn’t get back to the blog. At any rate, it’s pretty clear that no one is interested in the podcast option. I may look into it anyway just because I’m curious about how it works– I can think of two ways to convert a blog into a podcast, and one is expensive and the other would not result in an acceptable podcast– but I think the only reason to do it would be to make the blog more accessible to the blind, and I suspect that by and large blind folks who are are interested in reading blogs probably already have some sort of screen-reading software that they use.

That said, I am a White Guy with Opinions, and as such hey, I should do a podcast is on my bucket list of shit I might want to do sometime, just as soon as I actually come up with an idea worth of the work it would take. That’s been the position I was in for several years and no podcast has surfaced, so I wouldn’t worry too much about audio being imposed on your Infinitefreetime.com experience.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last two days– and will also spend the next three– watching numbers slowly increment upward from 1 to somewhere between 50 and 53. It’s Spring NWEA time, so I’m wasting an entire week of my school year trying to convince children who are not in the same room with me to take a standardized test that will provide me with no useful information. I know they’re behind. I’ve never once in my career taught at a school where even just a majority of my kids were at grade level. I wouldn’t know what to do with 8th graders who were on grade level. They’re behind. A year of pandemic has not made that better. They will remain behind. This test will let me know that they’re behind, but will attach a number to it.

(And that number? I don’t trust it, for what should be obvious reasons– every single one of these kids is taking this test out of my sight, and of course I have no way of monitoring who actually took the test, or if they got help, or for that matter if they were taking it in the kitchen while their parents were fighting and the baby they were supposed to be taking care of was crying. One kid left for half an hour because his dad made him walk the dog. The test already wasn’t especially helpful, and it is even less helpful than usual this year.)

I will not rant about state accountability tests, which have not been cancelled yet. Not today.

The picture at the top of this post is not my house– it’s the customize-your-house thing that our roofing company uses, with the shingles we’ve selected on the roof. We’re going on faith to at least a certain degree here, because comparing the actual shingle samples we were sent to any photograph of any of the three colors we settled on results in a certain amount of confusion. I’m hoping a photograph will be more representative than the, like, four shingles we got sent in these samples, but ultimately everything was so close together that it didn’t end up mattering. The white and green on the house up there match the color of my house and the accent color of my house closely enough for government work, and our shingles don’t match the brown one neighbor has or the black the other neighbor has, so whatever. We’re good.

Neither of us are going to remember what the hell color we picked when they come to install the new roof anyway.

In which that’s enough, thanks

It’s not necessary to point out to me that there are parts of the country that have it far, far worse than northern Indiana does right now, and I’ve already done the “go to a hotel for a night because it’s freezing outside and the power is out” thing this year, so believe me, I get it. And the snow is drifty and powdery, and that’s the deepest part of the driveway, and a foot away there might have been 6″ of snow and a foot away from that it might have been back up to 15″. I figure the average depth of the driveway was around a foot of snow or so, maybe a bit more. The last time I had to clear the driveway there was only six or seven inches of the stuff but it was incredibly dense and wet, and that was a far more exhausting job than this was.

It sucked anyway.

We had a snow day today, such as it is; I found out halfway through 3rd hour that apparently on “snow days” I’m not expected to actually do Meets with my students. I shrugged and did the rest of them anyway. Tomorrow is Wednesday, which is supposed to be asynchronous (ie, no Meets) so that we can attend meetings and go to trainings; there have been no trainings remotely relevant to Math teachers for about two months and I cancelled the 8th grade team meeting because we’ve really only had two days of school since the last one. Combine that with the fact that I got caught up on my grading yesterday and my day is rather startlingly open, which I would normally regard as a good thing but I am definitely casting a wary glance at anyway at the moment.

This happened today, too, right outside my office window and conveniently in between classes:

I got another video of him that was closer, but this also lets you see some of the crows that were flying around (and making enough noise that they were the reason I looked around the window in the first place;) there were at least a dozen of them that I could see, and the hawk gave not one thin damn what they were doing. I wasn’t able to get a good look at what he was eating; it occurs to me that there are probably remains under the tree but I’m not going out there to look right now. I *think* this is the second time I’ve spotted this dude in my yard and I still haven’t been able to get a clear look at him– the first time he was chilling in a bush while I was taking the garbage out but he flew away before I could get a good picture. If he comes back a third time, I’m naming him.

(It occurs to me that I don’t really know where all the toads go during wintertime, so he might be eating a Deathwish. Best bet given that it was broad daylight is probably a ground squirrel or a chipmunk, but who the hell knows.)

Stay warm, y’all.

In which I need to make “tired” a category

I am a vile, achy mess today, and I don’t know what I did to deserve it. Last night was all stress dreams, and I woke up with a headache; all day I’ve been having to remind myself to relax my jaw. Other than … y’know … all this (waves vaguely) I don’t have anything in particular to be stressed about, like, nothing’s happened, and there’s no reason for me to be trying to break my damn teeth.

There was about a 10-minute break after the word happened just then, where I just sort of stared off into space, not doing anything.

I would like my shots now. I have to get out of this house. Fucking Indiana.

On coffee and customer service

You know this already, if you’ve been around for a while: I moved to Chicago in 1998 after graduating from college, and lived there until getting engaged and moving back home to South Bend in 2007. I loved living in Chicago, and one of the things I miss most about it even after all these years is the food. Chicago’s one of the biggest cities in the country, and (especially once you got used to getting around) you could find anything there, and most of them delivered. Thai food at 3 AM? No problem.

South Bend is not like that. Most of South Bend’s restaurants, for better or worse, are regional or national chains. We’ve got some gems sprinkled here and there (Nedderman’s Steak Place, some good teppanyaki, and a really good hole-in-the-wall Venezuelan bistro) but in general if you’re looking for quality cuisine outside of what you would expect to find in a mid-size Midwestern city you’re going to be disappointed.

I found out yesterday that we’ve recently acquired an Ethiopian coffee business. How did I find out? They brought a bunch of free coffee to work, and the secretary emailed everybody that there was free Ethiopian coffee so come get some free Ethiopian coffee, and I wasn’t at work to go get it, so the email just sort of sat there and teased me. Interesting fact: they don’t appear to have a retail footprint, but they’ve got the website, and if you’re local they bring you your coffee. If you aren’t, they’ll still ship for you.

I ordered some coffee yesterday evening at around 6:15 PM. At 6:38 I got an apologetic text message that due to the blizzard taking place outside my coffee would not be delivered that evening. So their usual standards are pizza-delivery speeds, which I feel like isn’t completely necessary for coffee. I replied to make it clear that they could take as long as they needed to; I don’t need someone sliding off the road into a ditch so I can have novel caffeine the next morning.

At any rate, I did get my coffee today, and had a weird moment with the delivery guy when we both realized the other one looked kind of familiar, but it was dark and bloody cold outside and also COVID and neither of us were masked up (side note: “masked” can autocorrect to “naked” if you aren’t careful with your typing, which would have altered the meaning of that sentence somewhat) so we did not stand outside and chatter at each other long enough to figure out where we might have known each other from. Have I consumed coffee yet? No, which might make this post premature, but I figured the whole apologetic about not bringing me coffee during a blizzard thing probably warranted its own post. Plus, dear God, I know better than to have coffee at 8:15 at night, and that’s, like, Folger’s and shit. I assume this is probably going to be a little stronger.

I’ll report back tomorrow, of course.

LASIK, six months later

I had my eyes lasered six months and ten days ago, and I thought it might be useful to take a minute and talk about how that’s been going.

And honestly, so far, my experience has been kind of mixed. I am very definitely still healing, and things are still changing on a week-to-week basis. One thing I wasn’t aware of going into the process was that apparently nearsightedness takes a bit longer to heal than farsightedness does, and I was quite nearsighted. I’m also suffering from not being able to simply put my glasses back on to compare glasses-assisted vision to what I have now. So let’s do a pros and cons list.

Pros:

  • Pain, even very early on, has been virtually nonexistent. For the first couple of days after the surgery the first maybe five minutes after waking up, when I’m just opening my eyes for the first time, had that sort of pebbly there’s-something-under-my-eyelids feeling that you might get when you’re really tired. But that went away quickly and there’s been no issues since then.
  • I’ve experienced no starbursting or any degeneration of my ability to drive at night.
  • Close-up vision is essentially perfect for 90% of the day, and my vision has been corrected to somewhere in the 20/20-25/20 range. For the purposes of this conversation I’m defining “close-up” as anything within five or six feet, and when they give you that little card to read at “normal reading distance” at the eye doctor I can read the smallest print easily.. This is where I wish I had my glasses, because there’s a lot of “could I have read that with my glasses on seven months ago?” going on with text that is farther away than that.

Cons:

  • That other 10% of the day. My eyes get tired more easily than they used to, and I swear they produce more crud than they used to as well. I have gone from someone who never needed eyedrops to still using them (non-medicinal rewetting drops, to be clear) maybe two or three times a day. The last hour of the day can sometimes be a bit of a struggle, and that just wasn’t the case when I was wearing glasses.

Now, some caveats and provisos and quid pro quos:

  • I don’t think it’s unfair to point out that working from home during quarantine has had a serious effect on my eyes. I spend eight hours a day at my computer, to start, and that was never the case before. It is rare that I have to focus on something more than ten to fifteen feet away, and that is probably fucking with my mid- and particularly my long-distance vision. One thing I’ve noticed: I sit maybe ten feet away from the TV when we’re watching shows, and we typically keep closed captions or subtitles on regardless of what we’re watching them. At the beginning of watching a show, it can be a struggle to keep the captions in clean focus. That’s almost never a problem by the end of the show, so it’s a case of my eyes taking a minute to adjust to focusing on something out of arm’s length. Similarly, it just occurred to me in the last couple of days that our new TV puts out a lot more light than the old one, which might be why longer video game sessions bug me more than they used to. I need to adjust where I’m putting my chair; I wasn’t too close to the old TV, but I think I am too close to the new one. That’s an eye issue, but it’s not LASIK’s fault.
  • Similarly, the first couple of minutes of driving anywhere (I leave the house maybe once a week) always involve me thinking about my eyes a lot. It goes away quickly. I have never, even for a moment, even at night, thought that I couldn’t see well enough to drive, but that first minute or so always involves lots of staring at trees long distances away and wondering what they looked like when I wore glasses.

Things are still getting better on a week-to-week basis, I think, and I’m spending a lot less time thinking about my eyes than I used to, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the first two or three months in particular were a bit more of a trial than I expected. I don’t think I made a mistake, mind you, but as someone who didn’t mind wearing glasses all that much, I don’t know if I’d do it again, if that makes any sense. If you really feel like glasses or contacts are a pain in the ass, I’d definitely still suggest you think strongly about doing it– but just be aware that the healing process is a lengthier thing than you might have expected.