In which the magic almost happens

I have talked about my car a couple of times recently, so you may be aware that I drive a green Kia Soul. While I certainly didn’t mind the green, I bought the car used and the color was genuinely the least of my concerns; I like brightly-colored cars, which are less popular right now than they used to be, but the green Soul was inexplicably the most popular color and that was what was available, so that was what I got.

There is a name for the phenomenon I’m about to describe, and my former-psychology-major brain cannot quite produce it, but: you have no doubt noticed that once you, personally, own a certain kind of car you see that kind of car everywhere. And even knowing that, I was not quite prepared for just how many Alien Green Kia Souls there are on the road right now. In the years I’ve been driving the car I’ve been playing a little game with myself: how many Alien Green Kia Souls would I see at a given intersection at the same time? Would I ever actually pull up to a four-way stop and discover that there were Alien Green Kia Souls at all four of the stops?

Until today, my record was three of the four, and I genuinely thought I was never going to get past that. I mean … it’s a popular car, but that’s ridiculous, right?

Until today, when I almost achieved the unachievable. Because on the way home today I stopped at a four-way light, two lanes in every direction, and almost immediately noticed that I had tied my record– there were Alien Green Kia Souls both to my right and to my left. I looked at oncoming traffic, hoping to catch a glimpse of, perhaps, one in the distance approaching the intersection, so that I could count it before the lights changed and the two cars on the road I was crossing drove away.

And then it happened: a fourth Alien Green Kia Soul … pulled up in the lane next to me, driving the same direction I was.

Which I think counts as breaking the record, since this is in fact four cars at the same intersection for that brief moment until the other two started moving, but it does not in fact count for the magic situation I have been waiting for for so long, when there are four of us at each of the four cardinal directions.

And in my head, we always notice what has happened, and get out of our cars, and immediately become the best of friends.

But I guess now there are going to have to be five of us.

Dagnabbit

I actually have a story for you, but I appear to have fallen down some sort of rabbit hole this evening and almost forgot about y’all again, and it’s past 9:00 already. So I’m just going to tell you I have scheduled my Covid booster and a flu shot for tomorrow– that’s not the story– and I am planning on being sick for the rest of the weekend. Exciting!

A Fourth of July factoid

Many of you probably know this, either because you’re history buffs like me or you’ve seen me mention it here before or you saw it somewhere else today, as this is going to be far from the only place to learn this today.

But!

One of my favorite stupid party tricks is that I can always tell you how old America is without having to do the math. My birthday is tomorrow, and I was born on July 5, 1976, meaning I was born the day after America’s bicentennial. I therefore can determine America’s age by just adding 200 to my own rather than dealing with any piddling subtraction like some sort of heathen.

But I have another trick! I can also, by adding 150 to my age, tell you how many years it has been since both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. You see, the two men both died on the same day– and not only did they die on the same day, but it was July 4, 1826– in other words, on America’s 50th birthday.

Jefferson’s last words were “Is it the Fourth?”

Adams, who always thought America should celebrate its birthday on July 2 because he was a contrary old bastard like that (hot take: Adams was the Bernie Sanders of the 1700s,) didn’t give a damn about dying on the Fourth, but his last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He was wrong. Jefferson had been dead for a few hours, but, y’know, 1826. I don’t know how long it took for the knowledge of Jefferson’s death to make it from Virginia to Massachusetts, but it was probably at least a week or so, and I imagine it took a minute to determine which man had actually passed away first.

And now you know something about what happened 195 years ago today.

A short Skyrim story

I have spent a good portion of the last two days playing Skyrim. Why? I’m on Spring Break, and I do what I want. Something something self care something, damn it.

Anyway, my character is an archer and a thief, because no matter what build you try to have in Skyrim you always end up as an archer and a thief, and apparently at some point I stole something from a certain minor character’s home. I was just attacked in broad daylight in a whole other town by a handful of thugs, all of whom were quickly dispatched via arrows to the face. Because that is how I roll.

Upon searching said thugs, I found a letter from this dude telling them that he wanted them to beat me bloody, but if I died in the process, meh.

Now, actually killing NPCs in this game is possible but can frequently be more trouble than it’s worth, as murder is one of those crimes where the guards just sort of magically know you’ve done it even if you were the only other person in the room where it happened. But sometimes you need to make exceptions, right? And this dude had sent three thugs after me, so something something self defense something, right?

Well, when I stopped by his house again, he wasn’t home, and I wasn’t about to traipse all over the damn town looking for him. Now, if you’re not familiar with this game, be aware that you can pick up damn near any object you can see. Baskets. Food. Plates. Books. Silverware. That pair of boots on the floor in the corner. If you can see it, more likely than not you can pick it up and make off with it. It actually takes a while when you start playing to curb that automatic video game urge to loot everything, because you really don’t need all those wooden plates and flagons. They just take up room in your inventory and make it harder to carry stuff you want.

But you don’t have to carry stuff far to do something fun with it.

So I took every single object in this man’s house, went outside, and dumped it all on the ground in front of his place. I thought about just selling it but there was a lot of stuff and it would have required at least two trips to my fence– you can only sell stolen goods in certain places– and frankly I thought just throwing all his dishes and baskets and eating utensils and all of his food out in the snow outside his place was funny enough.

He has a farm outside of town, too. He comes after me again, I’ll clear that out next.

Your move, Belyn Hlaalu.

Want some, come on and get some!

Some of my parents must think I’m new, I swear.

Just came out of an IEP meeting that went abruptly south when the parent decided to start casting blame far and wide for her kid’s seven current failing grades. Now, here is the thing: I am fully aware of how hard this must be for a lot of our parents. I am keeping track of one child while trying to keep up with my actual students and doing my job to the best of my ability and it is difficult. I am not keeping track of more than one, the extra kids that I don’t have to keep track of aren’t at multiple grade levels, and as things go my actual child tends to be pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways. And it is still hard.

Now, what that means is that I’m bending over backwards to make sure my students have access to me. They have my phone number, and know they can call or text me basically anytime between 8 AM and 10 PM. I am online in a Google Meet for about four and a half hours a day every single day so that they can come in and ask questions, and I am monitoring my email whenever I am awake. There are no penalties for late work on any of my assignments, and I’ll even allow unlimited retries for anything a student wants to redo. I have posted personally-recorded video lessons for every single piece of new content we’ve done that they can access any time they want through the magic of the Interwebs.

(I am actually at my computer during my lunch break right now, too, because I have kids testing. I’ve left this desk twice in the last three hours– once to pee, and once to get some cold pizza from the fridge.)

This is not for cookies. I don’t want praise. This is because I think what I’m doing is the minimum amount of flexibility teachers should be showing right now. But what this also means is that if you try and come at me for not teaching your child when your child hasn’t taken advantage of any of these opportunities, I may not be entirely sympathetic, and when you try and blame me specifically for your student’s failure I’m going to start bringing out receipts.

Because I have them. I can see every time you’ve logged in to check your kid’s grades, for example, and I see that you’ve done so repeatedly over the last few weeks, so don’t even try and pretend that you didn’t know he was failing. I can also search my own email, so when you claim you’ve emailed and talked to all his teachers? I never delete anything, ma’am. I can assure you that you have not.

Oh, and I see that your email is here on Google Classroom, which means that you’ve been receiving my weekly emails about everything we’re doing in class, all of which contain my phone number and constant reinforcement to contact me if you have any questions or any needs at all that I can be helpful with.

I am not the one, God damn it, so don’t try it. Just don’t.