Nattering on

I’m in a mood again today, and I think it’s social media related; I need to spend less time on … well, everything, really. I’ve done a reasonable amount of adulting today; I rescheduled a doctor’s appointment, made my first dentist’s appointment since before the pandemic (letting people stick their fingers in my mouth before I was vaccinated was not happening) and got some more planning done for next year. I also finished my first bookbinding project, which I was going to share with you but I think I’ll wait until I finish the second one instead. All I can see when I look at this one are the mistakes, so I’m going to give it to my son and make a better one for my wife, which hopefully will be something I’m actually willing to share with people.

You’d think this would have me in a decent headspace, but I just can’t deal with the level of stupid the world is throwing at me today:

I also sat down with the estimate I just got from the fixtures place for our bathroom renovation, and compared it to our initial estimate, which was supposedly based on average prices at that specific location, and I’m going to have to have a stern word with someone about it, because right now we are astronomically over budget, before a single square inch of drywall gets pulled off the wall or a single tile gets laid. To a certain degree I’m willing to blame myself for not paying attention to certain things– like the fact that a shower door wasn’t included in the original estimate, when in fact what I was told was a very basic shower door at this place is thirteen hundred dollars, and a shower door is not exactly an unexpected purchase when redoing a bathroom. But when you tell us that your estimate for the vanity will cover a “custom” vanity for the space, and we in fact pick out a pre-built, non custom vanity, and the vanity still runs three times the estimate? That’s on you. When we are specific across the board that we are looking for mid-range stuff, and we ask you to quote us out for mid-range stuff, and then they show us what they are saying is mid-range stuff, and the estimate is off two hundred percent? I am not taking all the blame for that shit.

So first I have to go over all this with my wife to figure out just how deep in the shit we are, and how much we can afford to crawl out of said shit, and then I need to call my guy who put this estimate together and we’re gonna have us a come to Jesus moment.

So, yeah. I’m in a mood.

In which my mood still needs improvement

This is a serious question: is there any other organization or genre of organizations out there other than package delivery where you can pay for a certain service, not receive the service you paid for, and then just … nothing happens, and if you complain about it the explicit response from the company is to try and make you feel like a bad person?

Yes, of course I’m waiting on a FedEx package, again, and according to the tracking it’s been in my city since early this morning, just sitting around somewhere unable to be picked up by me, and it shipped two-day air on Wednesday and right now I’d lay a small amount of money that I don’t see it until Tuesday. Which will mean I paid extra to have something in two days, it will not be here until the sixth day, and my recourse will be … nothing. Sorry, we were busy. Unexpected delays. You impatient piece of garbage, you.

Today has not helped with my misanthropy problem. I have continued to be a snarly mess all day, and my disposition has not been improved by the repeated reminders that there is a store in Nashville, a store that I dearly hope has been burned to the ground by now, selling yellow fabric stars with the words “Not Vaccinated” on them. I don’t care anymore; I want these people to die, I want them to die of Covid, and I want them to be alone and in endless, unspeakable pain when it happens. Hint, maggots: if you have to buy the fucking yellow star to put it on yourself, it’s not oppression, it’s fucking capitalism.

I haven’t had the words for how much I hate these people for a while, and they keep getting worse every single day. I’m tired of everything I do and hear being dominated by the worst people in the Goddamned world.

Fuck.

On terrible people and my time & money

While I’ve been doing some DMing for my wife and son lately, the last time I spent serious time playing role-playing games was in college. I lost my group when I moved to grad school, and basically never tried to find another one after that. My college group mostly bounced back and forth between Call of Cthulhu and Dungeons and Dragons.

One of the best campaigns I was ever involved in was a published Call of Cthulhu game called Horror on the Orient Express. I have some of my best memories as a gamer from that campaign; it was a tremendous achievement in game design and, not for nothing, was expertly run by our DM as well.

I recently discovered that Chaosium, the company that owns Call of Cthulhu, was planning on updating and republishing Horror on the Orient Express in a new, two-volume, 700-page, ludicrously expensive version for their 7th edition rules. It’ll be out in a couple of months.

Did I say ludicrously expensive? I don’t care, I’m buying it anyway. This is why I have a job.

Well, it’s for the seventh edition, and while I doubt that the seventh edition is all that different from the rules I’m familiar with (and it’s not like I intend to run this; I’m buying it for nostalgia value and to reread it) it felt weird to think I was going to buy an adventure for 7th edition Call of Cthulhu without actually owning the core rulebooks for 7th edition Call of Cthulhu.

So I spent a hell of a lot of money at the Griffon yesterday. Because these damn things are pricey, even under normal circumstances.

Let’s talk about H.P. Lovecraft a little bit.

Just in case you’re not familiar with him (although I doubt that’s going to be the case for too many of you; after all, you’re here,) the Call of Cthulhu game is based on a mythos created by the works of an author named Howard Phillips Lovecraft. H.P. Lovecraft’s influence on fantasy writing and specifically the horror genre is kind of difficult to overstate. His work is a big deal, and damn near everybody who works in genre has read him. He was also an enormous, disgusting racist, and his racism bled into a lot of his work. Now, when I say that about somebody who was born in 1890, a lot of people are going to shrug. “He was a product of his time,” they’ll say. “We can’t judge people Back Then by our modern moral standards.” Nah. H.P. Lovecraft was so much of a racist that it was notable in the 1920s. Like, ordinary run-of-the-mill 1920 white people thought this guy’s ideas about race were kinda fucked up. Google the name of his cat sometime. The guy was a hell of a writer, but he was trash as a person.

Typically I do not like to spend money that will trickle into the hands of giant fucking racists. However, in the case of Lovecraft, while the overall picture is complicated, his work is mostly in the public domain by now. Furthermore, Lovecraft had no children and his wife divorced him (well, sorta) a few years before he died, so there’s not even a family that money spent on Call of Cthulhu is going to go to.

But the guy’s legacy still has to be grappled with, right? The World Fantasy Award used to literally be a bust of his head; it was remodeled in recent years to a (much better) excellently creepy full-moon-behind-a-tree version after Nnedi Okorafor, who is Nigerian-American, won the award and pointed out that the greatest award of her literary life meant that she had to look at the face of a dude who literally didn’t think she was human every day. There is a long, ongoing, and very likely never-ending conversation about whether we can separate art from artist, but we can definitely avoid literally honoring the artist when that artist turns out to have been a terrible person. If that person is still benefiting from the sale of their art, then you need to have a deeper conversation. H.P. Lovecraft has been dead for 80-some-odd years and buying his books doesn’t send money to anyone connected to him, so reading his stories isn’t as problematic as, say, reading the work of still-living garbage humans John C. Wright or Orson Scott Card.

(“As problematic,” I said. And I’m not going to spend one second trying to talk someone out of feeling otherwise; if you feel like I’m making a distinction without a difference, let me know.)

All of this may be more lead-in than this issue deserves, but I was leafing through my new rulebooks last night and, as one probably might expect, Lovecraft’s name is all over this thing. And I thought about that for a bit, and went to the first few pages of the book, looking to see what they had to say about the man himself. And I was startled to discover that the official 7th edition Call of Cthulhu rulebooks devote two sentences of a chapter called “H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos” to talking about Lovecraft’s racism, and those two sentences are basically there to utterly dismiss it. The game, remember, is traditionally set in the 1920s, not exactly a great time for American race relations, to say nothing of the sexism, and the author is one of literature’s most famous racists.

I’m a little surprised and more than a little disappointed that the game doesn’t address this more directly, is what I’m trying to say here. The newest edition of the Dungeons and Dragons rulebook has a whole section at the beginning of the book about how players of all races, genders and sexualities are welcome in the game and theirs is set in an explicitly fantasy world. Call of Cthulhu is not only based on the work of a racist but is set in the 1920s, when any number of people who might be interested in the game now might face some issues playing characters who reflect them. I can easily imagine a Keeper making the life of a Black or gay or Asian or enby or hell even female player miserable because That’s How Things Were Back Then. Maybe, in our pair of oversized-hardback, two-column, 400-page rulebooks we should take at least a few paragraphs to talk about how to navigate that? Particularly in the Keeper’s Handbook, the book for the person running the games? This hobby has kind of a reputation for being a little exclusionary; can we take some time to push back on that, please? Just a little?

I dunno. I’m not– at least not without further reading, and again I’ve only skimmed these books since buying them– accusing the Chaosium writers of being racist or sexist. Right now what I’m specifically saying is that there’s a huge blind spot here, and it’s kind of made me uneasy about shoveling more money toward this company. I may feel differently once I’ve read through the rulebooks; if I discover I’ve missed something important (and there’s 800 pages of material here, so this is entirely possible) I’ll update later. But this is squicky, and I don’t like it, and I thought that was worth talking about a little bit.

Consequences! Consequences for anyone!

The news has just broken that the sweaty, incoherent, oil-haired ghoul known as Rudy Giuliani has had his home and office raided by the FBI. I am at the point where I just want someone involved with the Previous Administration to go to fucking jail, and I don’t especially care who it is so long as they don’t come back out alive. I want literally anyone from that administration to see some kind of punishment. I don’t even care if it’s legal. The rack. Guillotine. Toss some fucker out of an airplane without a parachute. An Iron Maiden. Public flensing. I don’t care. You may remember that this particular evil motherfucker literally propositioned someone he thought was a teenager for a blowjob on camera fairly recently and absolutely nothing happened to him.

Enough. Hurt one of these motherfuckers. Just pick one.


I quit the IU thing, and I’m about to turn down an offer for a summer school position, mostly because we want to sign the boy up for a bunch of summer camps and I can’t take him to said camps or pick him up from said camps if I’m at a school halfway across the city for six hours a day. The money would be nice (and the IU money would have been nice, and the IU money plus summer school money would have been really nice) but I think I need to prioritize my kid, who has spent most of the last year at home, being outside and interacting with other children. Plus, y’know, if I don’t do summer school, I get June off, and I kinda need to learn calculus this summer so spending this summer teaching myself math might be a good way to spend those hours where he’s at camp.

(Googles “free online calculus course”)

I spent some time at work today going through– not taking, necessarily, just reading through– a practice exam for this test, and the questions fell into two categories: 1) Questions that I knew how to answer immediately, and was 100% certain I would be able to answer correctly, and 2) questions that I didn’t even know how to start, and would have no clue how to answer. Some of those will be easily fixed by some study; one question, for example, began with “Given that A|B,” and that | symbol is not something that is used in eighth grade Algebra and I don’t have the slightest idea what is meant by it. I’m not worried about figuring it out, though, and once I know what A|B means, the problem didn’t look hard. Then there were the multi-part questions where I didn’t know how to do anything, and … well, that might be trickier. There were zero questions that I looked at and thought “I can probably figure that out, if I needed to.” Everything was either “I got it” or complete cluelessness.


I have not, after a day away from the kids, quite recovered my chill. We will see if tomorrow replaces it or not; either way, I’m not working Friday, as my wife is having LASIK surgery and I’ve taken the day off to make sure she gets there and back and has someone around to do shit if she needs it. It won’t be as hot tomorrow either, and I’m always much closer to being human when it’s not hot. This is, now that I think of it, another reason for me to not do summer school, because I’ve worked in the building summer school is in before and I’m pretty sure that I remember it not being fun in June. Tomorrow is the last day of testing and then there’s only, like, seventeen days of school left. I can make it. This ought to be a piece of cake, frankly.

He said.


I do not plan to watch the President’s speech tonight, although I feel like I should. Why? Because the motherfucking thing starts at 9:00 PM, and that means that by the time it’s over and I’m done monitoring Twitter it will be well and truly past my bedtime. Sleepy Joe, my ass. Sleepy Luther can read a transcript tomorrow sometime.

On masking up

Some good news: the mask panic attacks, after four days at school where I had to have one on for hours, appear to be subsiding. I have ended up landing on this one as my preferred mask, and the only complaint I have about it is that it rides up on my eyes a little more than I’d like it to, so I’m probably touching it and adjusting it more than I would like to.

I’ve been thinking more lately about what it’s going to mean to be “done” with Covid. It’s been made pretty clear that there’s a certain subset of the population who are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into vaccination, and to the best of my knowledge there is as of yet no shot that has been approved for use with middle school kids. So masking up at school is likely to remain a thing for a fair bit of time longer than masking up in general is going to be, especially since I live in a red state.

Thing is, it’s not like the masks are doing my kids any good, because as I suspected they cannot be convinced to wear them properly. Four days of in-person instruction in, I have reminded kids to cover their noses or their mouths with their masks approximately 123,425,208 times. And I’m probably still not doing it as often as I should, because there is literally someone without their mask on properly in my classroom 100% of the time, even with our current seriously-reduced number of students. I think I’ve been pretty consistent about this from the beginning: I hate wearing a mask, and wearing a mask genuinely fucks with me, but I’m going to do it anyway for as long as it’s necessary to do it. But hell if it’s not difficult to conclude that it’s safest for me to keep wearing one at work when I’m fully vaccinated and the kids around me are wearing theirs in a way that is literally not doing any good at all.

In general, I’m trying to be attentive to how much of my current behavior is reasonable and how much of it is basically quarantine-driven paranoia and, frankly, claustrophobia. I think it’s reasonable at this point to say that if you’re outside, unless you’re having a conversation in close quarters, you’re probably all good, and even in the building I tend to not put my mask on until I actually see another human being– if I can make it from my car to my classroom without wearing it, and frequently I can, I don’t put it on. But how long is it going to be until I feel okay going into a restaurant again? Like, I don’t even really have a guideline for what might make me decide “okay, this is all right now.” I got invited out for a drink with a couple of other teachers after work on Friday and turned it down. I’ve turned down multiple other such invitations over the course of the year. And I don’t even know what the plan is for when I might decide that sort of thing is okay again.

Actually, I do know one thing that would help: I don’t think there’s a solid consensus yet on whether vaccinated people can spread the virus easily. I know I’m not immune to catching Covid, it’s mostly just that if I do get it it is much, much more likely to be a minor case. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread it to my father-in-law if I end up asymptomatic, and I’d prefer not to spread it to any strangers, either. But, like, if I spend the next six or seven weeks in a poorly-ventilated classroom and in near-constant contact with middle school kids who aren’t wearing their masks right (because, again, none of them wear their masks right) and don’t catch it, I feel like that’s pretty good evidence that I can at least, like, go to the store without having to wear one. Sitting in a restaurant? I dunno. Going into the gas station to buy a candy bar and pay for my gas and leave? When there’s plexiglass between me and the dude behind the counter? Is that okay?

I dunno. I’m kind of talking in circles about that, but that’s because I’m thinking in circles about it too. I need the people who are making this a political issue to walk into the ocean so that the rest of us can come up with a reasonable set of standards for when we let our guard down a little bit, and if they’re not going to walk into the ocean, the least we should be doing is employing government snipers with dart guns to vaccinate these idiots so they can stop fucking things up for the rest of us.

Biden should put that in the jobs plan, as a matter of fact.