Monday, May 09, 2022

Unicorns Return

 The middle kid now happily owns multiple unicorn shirts and continues to happily wear them and not care what anyone else thinks.

(Please remember that this conversation happened with a nine year old.) 

A while after the original unicorn shirt, we were taking a walk together and I attempted to raise the issue of gender identities with him.  "Buddy," I said, "you know how you really like unicorn shirts?  Sometimes kids feel like they don't fit in with how everyone else thinks they are.  Like some people have boy parts on the outside but they know in their heart that they're a girl, or that they're a girl and a boy together, or they're not really either...."

"MOM!" he interrupted me.  "I'm a BOY.  I just like unicorns."

I'm sure we'll have this conversation again, in case anything changes, but.... okay then.  Very firm identity.  Really likes unicorns.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Five Minute Blogging

 ... literally five minutes, I have to teach shortly.

This semester has been full of ups and downs.  Student complaints!  (Too female, to liberal, too HARD.)  A wide variety of support offered and not offered, both to me and by me!  Some great students!  Some terrible students!  

A lot of job applications. Being rejected repeatedly is depressing; I try to tell myself it's a growth opportunity.

Finally an appointment with the neurologist for the Good Migraine Drugs.  Fingers crossed that they work.  I've had a headache 25 days out of 30 for the last 4 years.  I have enjoyed it not at all.  I take five medications daily to take it down to 'a normal person would take medication for this' from 'I must lay in the dark wishing for death'.  

The lack of, shall we say, professional support is very undermining.  It has me questioning if I am, in fact, any good at this (I am), or if my efforts are adequate (yes).  It turns out that being chastised for things you didn't do wrong does not lead to job satisfaction.

The children are mostly getting by; Eldest Child is having a bar mitzvah soon.  From my end, it's one more thing to juggle the details of, and I'm reaching capacity on how many things I can keep up in the air at one time.  On the bright side, most of the Things will be over at the end of May.  

I'm sad and angry about a variety of things, and I need to schedule some time to let myself feel that way. Unfortunately, I don't have any time in which to do so.  Feelings!  Why!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I am incredibly frustrated by practically everyone's response to the pandemic.

Even places with previous existing mask mandates- including here! - largely failed to enforce them.  Now that it's nothing more than a weakly worded suggestion, you can bet your bottom dollar that the unmasked are, disproportionately, also the unvaccinated.

The right wing response?  No more masks ever! The left wing response?  You, personally, should wear a mask everywhere indoors forever, or else you're a bad person!

Is there, perhaps, a response that is not both stupid and ineffective?  Immune compromised people remain at high risk. Great!  Maybe some entity- and I'm just spitballing here, but perhaps the federal government might be in charge of this here thing? - could make sure they're provided with adequate and effective medication options?  They could use their emergency powers to do something... effective?

Nah, just kidding!  You should wear a mask or you're a bad person!  Who cares that 98% of the other people at the hardware store aren't wearing one?  You, personally, will increase others' risk by an insignificant amount (compared to what's already going on), so you, personally, are responsible for mitigating this huge societal and governmental failure!  Nobody's going to do anything to mitigate the risk for the highest-risk people; nobody's going to increase hospital staffing or make high-quality masks actually widely available or send out enough rapid tests to make one iota of difference (although looking at UK data one might reasonably wonder how much that helped).  

Right now, I get a covid-cases notice from our schools every single day.  Usually it's about 2.5% of the total students per week. The best that can be said for requiring masks in schools - which is no longer permitted here! - is that it could be worse, but it's already pretty bad.  And don't even get me started on 'mask breaks' and the ineffective wearing of masks.  (To be fair, our district did also do a lot with air quality and filtering.) 

I'm not saying, don't wear a mask to protect yourself.  Do whatever suits you best!  I am saying, this is ineffective health policy, it has done nothing to prevent an actual million deaths, and it will continue to do nothing to prevent more deaths, because the overall risk from leaving your house is so high that reducing exposure by the 2% of people actually wearing masks is stupid and ineffective.  

I think that most people are unwilling to maintain the level of precautions that would be necessary to never get covid.  (If you are, good for you.) I'm not going to call specific people out, but think of everyone you personally know who was 'just so careful' and got covid anyways at some point.  I think that if, on the whole, our society is not willing to do anything effective at a level which would be effective, why are we still pretending that individual masking at the grocery is what's going to turn the tide?  I think I want interventions to be either effective and intrusive, or neither.  I think my university 'requiring' masks of everyone is working really great as I walk by ten undergrads sitting in the hallway pretending to drink coffee.  I think this is all stupid and I would like to get off this ride, and possibly move to a desert island.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Boring and Tedious Adulting

Today, I got to enjoy: installing a light fixture (this involved extensive swearing at both a light bulb, and whomever cut a wrong-sized hole in the ceiling); tracking down a wayward refund from a month ago; disputing a charge with an online company; and in consequence of the last, cancelling my main credit card.  Because fraud in the digital age is relentless.  (This also takes care of a stupid recurring charge that for extremely dumb reasons I couldn't otherwise cancel, so, win-win!)

It's still slightly better than the last time I had to close an account; it turned out a clerk had somehow mysteriously (and probably manually) debited someone else's check from our checking account, which explained why we a) couldn't see the check and b) also didn't remember writing it.

Now I must turn in midterm grades, take children to the dentist, and probably do laundry.  As a child, I definitely imagined adulting as much more exciting than all this...

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Job Description

Wanted: Spare biochemist to teach a dizzying array of courses to a dizzying array of students.  Must be firm with upper-class students, and gentle but firm to first-year students. Demonstrated ability to prevent everyone from incinerating either themselves or others, causing major property damage, or exploding the facilities while teaching lab.  The ability to counsel distraught students through family tragedies, failing exam grades, personal mental health crises, and over-commitment to athletics is highly desirable.  Note: the successful candidate will be required to perform these job duties during the permanently ongoing global pandemic without regard for whether any public or private schools, childcare, or camps are available.  To compensate, we offer a monthly webinar on self-care. 

Five-year contract.  Pays worse than an industry job watching paint dry straight out of college.  Evening hours required.  Submit proof of minimum ten (10) years post-secondary education while weeping and wishing you'd become an electrician.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Rookie Mistake

 Last week, I gave a quiz which I had not taken; there were two questions I couldn't answer, and a flurry of panicked emails.

Today I apologized to my class for the error and let almost everyone have a free 100.  

You never get too old to make really dumb mistakes, it seems.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Five Minute Blogging: This Is Tiring

I am teaching an intro class for the first time at my current institution and it is exhausting.  The level of people-related involvement!  The coaxing answers out of my class!  The constant monitoring of whether the class understands!  Whew, it's a lot easier to teach upper-class science majors.  They will straight up ask me to go back and redo a whole concept if they don't get it.  Today someone was too polite and it took another student asking for me to realize what he meant was "Hey, you forgot a 2 there, right?"  ("Where do the 2 Na+ come from?" is not specific enough.)

My middle child developed a sudden fever two nights ago and we got to do the 'help I must now drive around searching for rapid tests' shuffle after dinner.  This is not helping with the exhaustion. (It's not covid, it's a cold or something.) 

So far we're only ('only') up to 5% of everyone on campus testing positive for covid.  In the past four days.  Yes. At least... it'll be over fast?