I wasn’t going to post today– no good reason why, just tired– and I just realized that I haven’t missed a day since early April. So take a few minutes and appreciate this bit of amazingness:

In which we breathe

The board meeting is still going on right now, and they haven’t voted yet (but school starts in 9 days, so they’re not going back to the drawing board) but it looks like we’re not going to be back to face-to-face instruction until the first week of October at least, and there are indications that they’re at least beginning to prepare for the possibility that we won’t be back at all this year. Supposedly there will be a determination in mid-September about whether that October return date is happening or not, so we’ll have a two-week warning or so about what the plan is at that time.

The one thing I don’t like: they seem to want teachers back in our buildings for the duration during e-learning. Which, on one hand, I kind of get, and I don’t know that there’s a lot of health concern about me sitting alone in my classroom all day long, but this is my setup at home:

Versus at work, it’s me and my lil’ school-issued laptop. I am much better set up for e-learning from home than I ever will be at work, and other than giving principals a way to keep an eye on us I don’t see a strong benefit to keeping us in the buildings.

That said, I expect them to back off on this particular rule pretty quickly, and knowing that I won’t be in front of kids for seven or eight weeks is a relief. For right now, I can take a deep breath and figure out what’s next.

Turn, turn, turn

My stress level has been through the roof lately, to the point where putting more than two or three words together even on here requires a lot more psyching myself up than it ever used to. And when I say “ever,” I mean dating back to my first blog, so we’re going back like fifteen or sixteen years here.

The one thing that has been keeping me sane the last few days has, no shit, been woodworking videos. They are astonishingly calming. I can’t get enough of them, and I’m going to have to be careful to not accidentally buy a lathe before school starts:

Mark Oshiro continues with REMEMBER

This is the third part; I … think he’s still enjoying it? Like, I think this is I’m emotionally invested in this and I don’t know what’s going to happen to these characters, which is what I want. Right? Right.

Click here for the first part of the read through, or here for the first part of Remember, specifically. I think there should be at least two videos left in the series.

1:28 PM, Thursday July 2: 2,711,603 confirmed cases– over fifty thousand just yesterday, and these people are still pretending school is going to reopen in the fall– and 128,184 Americans dead. I think the last time I did this I had over 129K lost; that was apparently a typo.

In which I rearrange

Supposedly the governor is going to be releasing some sort of plan on what’s going to be happening with the schools this fall on July 1, which is– Jesus— next week. I expect two things from this plan: first, that it will, in some way, have us returning to our buildings as scheduled in August, and second, that it will be thrown overboard as things continue to get worse– because one of the iron-clad rules of the last several years is nothing ever gets better— and we will not, in fact, return. Disney World just cancelled plans to reopen, y’all; we’re going nowhere.

This means that I need to start thinking about taking virtual education a bit more seriously than I did last grading period, because we got thrown into that with no planning. I have the rest of the summer to get set up properly for this, and one of the first things I needed to do was set up my office better for recording lots of videos. The desk used to be against the wall that has the diplomas on it, right under the diplomas; as a result it showed the entire rest of the room whenever I was on camera, and I got into the habit of starting any video I recorded for the kids with the words “Welcome back to my filthy office!”

I spent the morning shoving furniture around. The white table behind the desk used to be against the low window to the right of my desk, and used to be against it the long way; in addition, the small file cabinet with the printer on it used to be basically where my chair is and there was a taller file cabinet in the corner. That tall file cabinet is basically immediately to the right of the picture, off-screen.

Advantages of the new layout:

  • It gives me more work space. Even if I don’t have to shoot a lot of videos next fall, all that desk area behind me is going to make things like organizing papers for grading a lot easier. I need to keep it clean, granted, but I’m sure I can do that. Really.
  • The image the camera on my desktop now sees is this:
  • That’s a lot cleaner, and the other advantage of the desk is if I end up using something like a green screen or a stand-up whiteboard to explain things I have the table space for it. Right now the camera is pointed a little lower than I want it to be, but that’s literally just a matter of reaching my arm out to my desktop and tilting it upward. Huge improvement.
  • I can actually reach my Goddamned printer now; with where it was before, the white table and the file cabinets were really tight, and getting to my printer to turn it on or get paper off of it was actually a pain in the ass. So was getting stuff out of the file cabinets. Access to all of those things is now much better.
  • Speaking of access to things, I can actually open the low window now. It was behind the table before; I couldn’t reach it to open it.
  • I could do this before, but I just learned about it: I can stream the PS4 to my desktop. It appears to work pretty damn well, too, which means if I want to I can play games in here without taking over what is basically the only TV in the house. It also means that when I want to play the occasional game that I don’t want the boy exposed to I can do it without waiting for him to go to bed. Again, I could do this before I rearranged, but I just learned about it so it feels like a new thing.

So that’s all a lot better. There are a few disadvantages, but they’re not a huge deal:

  • Lighting. As you can see from the webcam picture, even with the light on in the room and both the windows open, in broad daylight, my current webcam (which is the internal one on the computer) makes it look really dark in the room. I’m not sure what’s triggering this, but it definitely looks darker in here now than it did with the desk on the other wall. Possible fixes for this include a better webcam and a ring light behind the desktop. Possibly both. We’ll see.
  • Putting the white table perpendicular to the wall eats up a lot of floor space in the room. This is not necessarily a big deal, though, as the room is the office and it doesn’t really need to be super spacious. I have plenty of access to the closet you can see back there, and there’s enough room for me to move my chair around comfortably without feeling trapped here.
  • Related to that, though: my wife and I talked yesterday about setting up a small desk as a homework space for the boy, particularly if we’re in a situation where he and I are both at home this fall. Putting that table where it is makes the most logical location for his desk (behind me, on the wall where the flag is now) a little too tight. There’s more room than it looks like in the picture but there’s still not a ton, even for what is just a kid’s desk. Then again, if I do something different with the boxes of comic books that are everywhere right now (that’s what all those white boxes are) I can always rotate the table out when I need it or something.
  • I assume I’ll get over this, but my secondary monitor is now to the left of my desktop, not the right, and that feels really weird.

Yay for accomplishments!

12:41 PM, Thursday, June 25: 2,388,865 confirmed infections and 122,071 Americans dead.