Thankful for School

I was listening to a story the other day on NPR about how different areas of the country have implemented school during these days of the pandemic, and I was struck for a moment about how grateful I am for my school district and the efforts they’ve made to keep kids safe but also keep them learning.

Back when the pandemic first hit, I was disappointed with how the school transitioned to online learning. Anything that was done once kids moved to at-home learning couldn’t be officially graded, and so a lot of kids just checked out of the learning process. It felt like from mid-March through June, school was more of a joke than a real learning experience. I was worried we’d have more of the same when things started back up in September.

But they did start back up. True, there weren’t all the afterschool activities, but my kids have still been able to do cross country and now nordic skiing. There have been some virtual music groups. They’re in class every day, sometimes in person and sometimes online, but learning as actually happening.

I know there are parts of the country where schools are still shut down, and I know this is a topic that’s incredibly sensitive with many different people, both for and against the decisions that are being implemented. I was definitely worried how in-person schooling would go, but in practice, I’ve found the kids handle it sooo much better than the adults. We’ve had some COVID cases in the district, but due to social distancing and masking measures, none of them have really broken out into a huge problem.

Is school normal for my kids? No. But it’s much more normal than it was at the end of last year, and for that I’m very grateful. There’s enough bad things happening around the world these days that I’m trying to take some time and think about the positives that are here. I’ll take any positives I can get at this point . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Happy Birthday, Daniela!

Can you believe it? She’s thirteen today. I had to double check with her when she woke up, because I could have sworn she was just barely turning eight. However, she confirmed it: we now have a second teenager in our house.

What will we be doing to celebrate? Strangely enough, our lives are pretty busy at the moment. You’d think with the pandemic still raging that we’d be holed up at home more than we are, but Tomas and Daniela and MC are all doing nordic skiing (cross country), which involves a ton of practices and races. There are two races this evening, and Denisa wants to get some downhill skiing in as well. (Yes, it was -7 F when we woke up this morning, but I think there are some definite advantages to living in a place where there’s plenty to do outside in the winter. True, I suppose if it were more like 60 degrees, then we could just have outdoor parties, but whatever. I like snow, and I love that my kids still have some school sports going on.)

So they’ve got all that going, but later this evening we should all be back together for some good old fashioned cake. Yay for cake.

These days, Daniela is getting more and more into the trappings of teendom. She’s on her iPad a fair bit, chatting with her friends. She loves Taylor Swift songs and decided to listen to every single Swift recording, just so she could be up to date on all of them. She loves movies, and is a big fan of older classics like His Girl Friday or The Philadelphia Story. She’s Ferris’s favorite human, and she loves to draw, typically using the iPad and Apple pencil. She’s getting very talented at the cello and practices often without prompting, and she’s branching out into cooking as well.

It’s fun watching her try out all these different things, and while I do miss the girl who was absolutely obsessed with all things Lord of the Rings, it’s great to see her growing into her own personality. Maybe she’ll even come on Facebook one of these days. Who knows?

In any case, if you see her today, wish her a big happy birthday. It’s tough to be a middle schooler during a pandemic, so we all need all the cheerfulness we can get. I love you Daniela!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Revisiting The X-Files

I mentioned the other day that Daniela and I are now revisiting the X-Files. We’re still really early on in the show, but I had a couple observations already, and since what I really want to write about (the impeachment trial) is something that I don’t feel up to writing about today, I thought I’d focus on something lighter instead.

When I was in high school, The X-Files was one of the first shows I viewed as event television. Something that you’d get together with friends to watch, and that you’d all be talking about the next day. (Or, since it aired Fridays as I recall, the next Monday at school.) In many ways, it was a show that broke ground for the sort of television that’s so common now: big plot arcs, compelling mysteries, hints handed out bit by bit over time. It’s the kind of show that would have a mass following online if it were to come out now, with people all dissecting the little clues they noticed in each episode.

Of course, as a pioneer in that type of television, it’s got many aspects that don’t necessarily stand up as well to modern scrutiny. For one thing, it’s a bit hard for me to watch the series, since I know full well that many of these mysteries will just never be answered. That’s been something that’s held me back from watching a number of TV shows over the years. I watched the first bit of Heroes, for example, but then heard that it got significantly worse later on, so I just lost interest. In many ways, it feels like someone tells you “The first five chapters of this are incredible. Then it gets worse.”

There’s no way I would read that book. Bit then again, isn’t that what television has sort of been like all along? The difference is that now we’re often consuming it a season at a time. Maybe I’m just getting much more demanding, or maybe there’s more good television out there, which makes it harder to find shows that are as good.

(Something else that’s hard to wrap my head around? Gillian Anderson was 25 in season one. Duchovny was 33. When I watched them in high school, they were indubitably Old. What does that make me now? It’s almost been 30 years since the first X-Files aired. Showing it to Daniela now would be like me watching The Beverly Hillbillies or The Dick Van Dyke Show with my parents when I was her age.)

Then again, from what I remember, the X-Files also did a great job of “episode of the week” deliveries. Sure, there were the episodes that advanced the big plot forward and dribbled out additional hints and clues, but there were also just flat out funky episodes where cockroaches invade a town or there’s a monster Scully and Mulder have to fight. That’s something that I haven’t watched as much of recently, and it’ll be interesting to revisit it. (Doctor Who is pretty much completely in this vein. You’ve got the cool premise, and so you use that as a vehicle to do cool things.)

So far, the shows have stood up well, but like I said, we’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ll be interested to see where it goes from here. (Especially since I’ve never seen all the episodes. I mean, back when I was watching them, you either saw it live, or you didn’t see it. Talk about the stone age.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Turning Up the Temperature

Since we moved to Maine, we’ve typically kept our house at a fairly cold temperature in the winter. We have a wood stove and oil heat, and we’ve tried to generally focus on the woodstove as the main heat with the oil heat as backup. So the thermostat has generally stayed at about 55: enough to kick in at night if it gets too cold, but never do more than that.

During the day, we usually have the house in the mid 60s, give or take. That’s a fine temperature if you’re in the kitchen or living room, but the home office is farther away from the woodstove, and so it can get pretty nippy in there. This wasn’t a big problem in the summer, but the times when I’m in there in the winter are trickier.

For the last while, I’ve just been putting up with it. Heading into the kitchen for breaks to warm up when I need them. Then again, it’s also been tricky with our bathroom now that we have Ferris. We’ve tended to keep the bathroom door shut, since we don’t want the dog to drink toilet water. But with the door shut, the bathroom gets no heat. You’d be amazed what a difference a closed door can be in terms of temperature, when all your heat is coming from a single source.

And today, it finally dawned on me. I’ve been still treating the thermostat like I was treating it when we first moved here. Not that I want to throw caution to the wind or anything, but I think we can safely turn it up a bit more now.

“Turn it up a bit” means more like 68 in the house than 64. That might not seem like a huge difference, but it means that we run the oil heat some during the day. Our basement is insulated, so all that heat stays right in the house, which means the floors get much warmer, which means the rooms in the entire house are toastier. Win win.

I don’t think I’ll ever go much higher than that (at least for the next few decades), because I dislike being hot, but there’s definitely something to be said for not being cold, either . . .

What do you keep your indoor temperature set to during the day when you’re home?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Super Bowl 2021 Thoughts

Like many (most?) of you, I spent my evening yesterday watching the Buccaneers thrash the Chiefs, in a game that was honestly pretty disappointing, since I thought it would be much more of an even matchup. I mean, I ultimately wanted Tom Brady to win (that’s what TB stands for, right?), mainly because I think it’s a pretty remarkable storyline. He left the Patriots and everyone was saying he was just too old to do anything anymore. People all attributed his success to coaching and a confluence of influences, and then he went and joined . . . Tampa Bay? I mean, when I heard about that move, I thought it was a pretty ignominious way to end your career.

(Honestly, the Patriots should have never, ever, ever let Brady go. When a player has done that much for a team, I’m of the mindset that the team should stick with them to ensure they end their career with that team. Tom Brady was the Patriots. But whatever.)

In any case, Brady managing to win the Super Bowl with a team that had, up until then, only been on the bad side of so-so for the past long while is pretty jaw dropping, in my opinion. Yes, the team didn’t just win on the back of Brady. Their defense played a huge role, and yes, the Chiefs were down some key positions, and it looked like Mahomes was still somewhat injured, but that’s how football goes.

The rest of the game was . . . pleasantly diverting? I mean, it was a good excuse to sit there and eat chips and Oreos for a few hours. The halftime show made me realize I have officially stopped caring at all about current music trends, which is kind of disappointing. I didn’t recognize a single song by The Weeknd, and I found the whole thing just bizarre and fairly boring. Give me Prince or U2 any day of the week.

The ads were fine, though there was a severe lack of monkeys in them. (I don’t ask much from my commercials. Some humor is good, but a good chimpanzee can go a very long way with me.) I still find the ads that are Heartwarming and Special to be . . . strange. What have we come to as a nation when it takes Bruce Springsteen to appear in a Jeep commercial to tell us all to be more unified?

But again, I’ll take just about any excuse to do something different in February. We didn’t have people over or go anywhere. Just watched it with Tomas, Daniela, and MC. (Denisa decided to skip the experience.) It felt like this strange mishmash of normal and not normal. It was the Super Bowl, but there were masks, but there was a crowd, but only half or a quarter as many.

Here’s hoping next year’s game is better, and that life is much more back to normal than it is right now . . .

What did you all think about it? I realize that my perceptions can be heavily skewed by living deep in the heart of Patriots country for so long. Did everyone else want to see Brady do well, or were you all rooting for the Chiefs?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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