Calling all cosplayers

This has been a surprisingly productive Sunday– I need to do some lesson planning, but all of my grading and tomorrow’s lesson are set, we went outside and finished off the rest of the huge pile of sticks from a couple of weeks ago, and I’m writing a blog post right now, so I don’t really have much to do other than play video games and read for the rest of the night, which I figure is the right way to end a Sunday night.

We went out and got the boy’s Halloween costume yesterday, as I said. He’s dressing as a giant chicken, for some reason. The costume is hilarious but I would never have guessed that he’d have picked it. As I’ve said, I traditionally dress up and pass out candy in the driveway, because we’ve always had either escape-adjacent or doorbell-hating pets, and frankly I can do without hearing the Goddamn thing all night myself. I have a go-to costume, but I wanted to do something different this year.

And thinking about my son’s inflatable chicken costume got me thinking that an adult Oogie Boogie costume was probably something that existed out there in the world. And then I looked for one, and discovered that they do exist, but they’re either crappy or expensive, and it is also somehow possible that a costume of a dude who is literally a burlap sack filled with worms might not fit me.

Then I thought that it might be fun to wear my Santa suit while passing out Halloween candy, only that idea got shot down because there is a good chance as young as our Trick-or-Treaters get that some of them will want to hug me, and I’m not down with hugging strangers right now, nor am I interested in putting parents in the position of explaining to their kids why they aren’t allowed to hug Santa.

So now I’m all like … burlap’s cheap. It’s not like the pattern is going to be complicated. The trickiest part’s the mask, and that can’t be that hard. Use black wool for the stitches, and they can be wide as hell and sloppy and it’ll still look just fine. He’s literally a burlap bag. There are just not that many ways you can fuck that up!

Somebody talk me out of this, please. There’s less than a week until Halloween so all I have to do is go a few days without ordering the burlap and inertia will take care of the rest.

Forget it, Jake, it’s 2020

Enjoy the pretty flower; it’s likely to be the only pleasant thing in this post.

We went out and bought pumpkins and got the boy’s Halloween costume earlier today, and at some point during the trip I sighed, and my wife asked me why. My answer was that she should assume that if at any point between now and, oh, two or three weeks from now, she hears me sigh, it’s because I’m under an absolutely immense amount of stress basically all the time and I’m trying to discharge some of that.

Not that that’s specific to me, mind you; we’re all neck-deep in bullshit right now. We went to Target after the pumpkins because the boy needed new shoes and I got an email from a student apologizing for not turning in any work this week. She’d been in a mental hospital.

I wrote her back and told her she was to do none of the work for my class. I’m going to exempt her from everything she’s missed. I absolutely refuse to let my class be another source of stress for this kid. She doesn’t need it.

(Incidentally, I tweeted out this article about teaching and learning in 2020 earlier today, and I endorse every word of it.)

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide how vocal I want to be about calling upon a school board member to resign. If you remember my 2020 endorsements post, you may recall a tepid endorsement of current board member Leslie Wesley, who I don’t actually get to vote for or against because she doesn’t represent my district. I was, at the time, less encouraging a vote for her than a vote against her opponent, who is, to put it mildly, a local crank.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wesley got busted today for plagiarizing her candidate statement to the South Bend Tribune more or less in its entirety, basically just changing the city and district names of a 2018 California school board candidate’s essay. She first claimed that she’d written the piece in 2016 and actually accused the other woman of having plagiarized her, then switched her story to blaming a staffer, because people who run for school board need staff members.

Sure.

This is one of those situations where the initial situation is bad and then the lying about the initial situation just makes it even worse; her insistence in that article that nobody running for office ever writes their own articles is horseshit, because she’s not running for President, she’s running for fucking school board, and the initial suggestion that she’d simply just dusted off a statement from four years ago and reused it and slandering the stranger who got dragged into this against her own will is obscene.

There was also apparently a bunch of inflammatory bullshit on Facebook when this initially came out, all of which has been deleted, but including this charmingly inexplicable comment:

Hell, even if she’d written the statement in its entirety this year, any statement by a school board member trying to be reelected to office this year that never once mentions Covid, further not discussing the fact that she voted twice to return us to school, is not acceptable.

She needs to go. I would rather have a crank on the board than a shitty liar, and she’s a shitty liar even if she’s not a plagiarist. Fuck her. She needs to resign, to hell with the election.

So I gotta decide what I’m going to do about that. I considered using her picture on this post and decided against it; I thought about using her name in the headline and decided against that. I’m on Facebook under Luther’s name, not my real one. And my audience here isn’t as locally concentrated as one might thing, because my friends and family are all over the place.

(I wonder if WordPress has a way to do state-by-state traffic tracking? That might be interesting.)

At any rate, I can use my Big Platform, which probably isn’t as Big as I need it to be given how hyper-specific this issue is, or I can begin raising hell on my own, using my real name. It’s not like I haven’t gotten into the habit of emailing the entire board and the superintendent whenever the mood strikes me.

(Some Board members have replied to every message. The superintendent has replied to every message. Several Board members have replied to at least one. I have never heard a single word back from Ms. Wesley. Perhaps she doesn’t have a staffer to check her mail for her.)

Anyway, I gotta think about this. But if you are local, and especially if you’re in the third district for the School Board race, be aware of this, and if you haven’t voted yet, please vote accordingly.

A minor but extremely important point

Yes, it is both minor and extremely important, shut the hell up. I know how grammar works.

You may be aware that there was supposed to be another debate tonight, and that a certain party dropped out when it was made clear that the debate was not going to be held in person, where he could spread diseases to people.

For some fucking reason, the notion that the debate was not going to be held in person led to an absolutely astonishing number of people who literally appear to believe that the debate was going to be held over Zoom, or some similar computer meeting type of shit.

This is fucking stupid and you should be ashamed of yourself if you ever thought it. And, God help you, if you’re thinking well, how the hell else are they going to do it? right now, you need to slap yourself silly, because your brain is stuck in 2020 in a really alarming way and you need to take a moment to reorient yourself with how literally everything ever happened before the world ended.

There are these things called TV studios, guys, and we’ve been using them to hold conversations between multiple people who are not in the same place for generations. Multiple Goddamned generations. Walter fucking Cronkite interviewed people who weren’t in the same place as him. Kennedy and Nixon held a debate where they weren’t in the same place in 1960. That was sixty years ago.

The Goddamned debate wasn’t going to be held over fucking Zoom. Please get your shit together, all of you.


I’m not going to go back to reporting numbers every day, but today was the worst day for new infections nationwide since July 31 and Indiana had their worst day for new infections ever. The US will likely start setting new records again next week. So, once again, yes, let’s definitely reopen schools. Because we definitely have not tried ignoring this shit hard enough.

For my part, I just completed my second day of “hybrid instruction,” and honestly I’m not doing enough differently to be this damned tired. I only worked two days this week so far, for crying out loud, and I can’t convince myself that I don’t actually have tomorrow off. The kids are all home, but all that means is that tomorrow is like last week, not that I’m not doing anything.

In which somehow that worked

Pictured: not my pile of branches. I didn’t get a picture for some reason.

I made a terrible mistake today and did some yard work on purpose. We have a large tree in the front yard whose branches hang too low, so that if you’re mowing or whatever they need to be moved out of the way to take care of the part of the yard under the tree. I was all ready to post something on Twitter or whatever commenting on how it had turned out to be one of those jobs that you dread for forever and then takes like fifteen minutes when you actually do it, and then I discovered my neighbor standing behind me. I had headphones in, so this isn’t terribly surprising, mind you.

At any rate, I then got to have a lovely conversation about how too much of my tree was overhanging her yard and also overhanging the roof of her house. Now, this tree is really tall— I’m terrible at estimating distances, but it’s easily over twice as tall as my house, so obviously doing something like cutting a straight line along the property line wasn’t going to happen. I pointed out that we were having some folks out sometime soon to cut down the locust tree in the back yard and that I’d ask if they could hack this one back a bit on the taller branches, and that I’d take care of the stuff I could reach today.

And then it occurred to me that somehow the following had happened: one of my neighbors came over, complained about the state of my yard, demanded that I fix the state of my yard, and that somehow I not only did it but I’m not even mad about it. Like, that’s got to be a tricky conversation to have with somebody, right? I can see that going poorly. Were the situations reversed I’d have just asked if she minded if I cut the damn branches myself to avoid the chance of a confrontation going south and ending up on YouTube or some shit.

The problem here is that I’d already cut enough branches to fill our two allocated yard waste bins, so now there’s a giant pile of branches in front of my house the size of a car that are just going to have to sit there until what’s in the bins now gets taken away, and then I can cut them apart and fill the bins again. And frankly it’s not impossible that the process will have to be repeated twice. In the meantime, I’ve been sweaty and tired all afternoon and a lot more achy than I intended to be, because using a pole saw for an hour is tiring.

Also, I made sure that not one single inch of that pile of branches is on her yard. I’m considerate like that.

In which I require psychiatric help

I am going to be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future. New Covid cases in Indiana and in my county have skyrocketed since our school board made the decision to return to school, (scroll down and select the state) and I don’t actually expect the kids to be back for very long, but I am going to keep teaching from my house, and I’m currently working out exactly how that’s going to work with my various and sundry co-workers who are affected by this decision.

Now, this is not the reason that I’m working from home, but as this whole thing drags on it’s becoming more and more of a problem: masks give me panic attacks, and nothing I’ve been able to do has been able to fix that. Furthermore, none of the masks I’ve found have really made much of a difference, although some are better in some ways than others. Now, to be completely clear: this absolutely does not affect whether I wear a mask in public! I’m just fucking freaking out while I’m doing it. If I’m outside my house and not in the car, I’m wearing a mask, and I’ve noticed that if I’m talking to people it’s generally not bad, so it might be that an eight-hour day where I’m constantly talking to students might not be as bad as I think it is. But I had to go into my building twice today (don’t ask) and I discovered a new wrinkle to this whole thing: even the mildest physical activity makes it a lot worse. Like, say, climbing stairs to get to my classroom. Both times I went upstairs today– a single flight, mind you– I was damn near ready to claw my face off by the time I got to my classroom. I start focusing on my breathing, which leads to heavier breathing, which quickly turns into a really nasty spiral that I don’t like at all.

This is not a call for excuses to avoid wearing masks (and, for the record, my issues with them date to well before Covid-19 was an issue,) it’s a call for strategies for dealing with panic attacks. I’m already on Effexor for anxiety issues, which I continue to think is a lifesaver, but I’m not going to up my dose just because of mask issues, and I’m not convinced that would help anyway. I need, like, concrete strategies for how to trick my brain out of falling into a panic spiral every time I start thinking about my breathing. Because one way or another this is going to keep being a thing for a while, and I need a way to deal with it. Anybody have any suggestions?