Thirteen years and one year

This is not, objectively speaking, that great of a picture. Bek has pretty clearly just emerged from the shower, I don’t even look like I have showered– my beard is an utter Goddamned abomination– and none of us are looking at the camera for some reason, which is odd because I seem to be holding it, so you’d think I’d know where to look. I like it anyway.

Roughly thirteen years ago, I got married to that lady on the right there. Why roughly? Our anniversary is February 29, meaning that for three out of every four years I correctly celebrate our anniversary on the 28th of February and my wife incorrectly insists that our anniversary is March 1st. I finally won this argument free and clear this year, when she fucked up and accidentally advocated my position for a few minutes, forgetting that she has always been the March person. I will never, ever allow her to forget it, either.

At any rate, asking her to marry me remains the best decision I’ve ever made, as I Married Up in every conceivable fashion. The jury may still be out on her decision to marry me, but I’d like to think it’s worked out okay.

We aren’t doing anything for our anniversary this year. Last year we went to C2E2 on our anniversary. Covid-19 was a concern already, but at the time there were less than 60 cases nationwide and we figured it was as safe as it ever was. I tried my damnedest to keep my hands in my pockets as much as I possibly could and we washed our hands whenever we had a chance to. We had dinner with a friend at a Potbellies in Hyde Park and then came home.

And then I was sick for a month anyway, not quite “as sick as I’ve ever been” levels but I literally was trashed for the entire month of March, and by the time that was done we were in lockdown. That Potbellies dinner was the last time I had dinner in a restaurant. That dinner was the last time we made plans with anybody to do anything fun. And 500,000 people are dead in the United States alone, with another two million gone worldwide.

So, yeah, this year we’re staying home. We’re having Hamburger Helper for dinner. Why? Because Bek used to make it all the time and has stopped in the last couple of years for some reason, and I’m so Goddamn starved for novelty that having Hamburger Helper for the first time in probably seven or eight months seemed like something worth getting excited about. None of us have had shots yet; we’re too young to qualify yet, and Indiana is explicitly hoping at least a few more teachers die of this thing before they vaccinate any of us.

Maybe next year, if we’re able to, we’ll celebrate on the 28th and the 1st.

Oh, let’s see…

Can confirm: I will be pursuing National Board certification. So we will see how that goes.

I spent another nine hours staring at numbers today, then went to the comic shop and had dinner with my dad, and I actually do have stuff to talk about (short version: read Paolo Coehlo’s The Alchemist and Tochi Onyebuchi’s Rebel Sisters, full reviews probably coming, and there might be a video game review in the near future too) but right now all I want to do is put a wet rag over my eyes and sit in the dark for a while. Tomorrow will be another 8-9 hours of test watching plus avoiding spoilers for WandaVision.

I really do need to make “tired” one of my categories.

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.

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.