Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy Birthday!

Today is Oliver’s birthday, and as has become something of a tradition we will celebrate it with egg rolls. Probably cake too. Lauren is home from college so we’ll all be together, and Dustin is coming up to visit later in the day which will add to the festivities. It will be a good time.

It has been a strange few years for the world at large, and for me in particular. Everyone is moving up a generation now, and I find myself in the position my parents were in after I graduated college, watching my eldest child figure out what to do with the rest of his life. I’m not sure I ever figured it out, though it has turned out well. Oliver will be fine.

He has accomplished much, and more importantly he is a good person. I enjoy hanging out with him and I hope he does with me. He's my hockey buddy, among other things.

Happy birthday, Oliver.

I’m proud of you.

Friday, December 30, 2022

An Axe to Wind Up and Throw

So we spent the afternoon throwing axes.

Not at each other.

We’ve been in a generally slow-motion pattern since Christmas. Lauren went up to her apartment to serve out her Covid isolation, which ended today, since she had more freedom to move about there. Kim, Oliver, and I have been at home working on the Christmas letter, watching various things on television (Glass Onion: thumbs up!) and trying to solve the 1000-piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel that I got Kim for her birthday, which may or may not have been a kind thing to have done.

But with Lauren coming home today and the afternoon open for Plans, well, hanging around the place just wasn’t an option.

Fortunately, Kim knew of a place that would let you release your Inner Lumberjack for a small fee. It’s a barn-like sports-pub that has three big-screen televisions over a bar that’s roughly twenty paces long. The ceiling is a good thirty feet overhead, and at one end there are two of those digital golf driving range things where you can take real golf clubs and whack at a ping pong ball and the mainsail-sized screen in front of you reacts as if you’re at St. Andrews. You get used to the whacks eventually. There are a couple of dart boards off to one side, and in the back there are several mostly enclosed spaces where the general public is encouraged to try throwing forestry equipment at a wooden target.

They make you watch a ten-minute video before you can actually start the mayhem. It’s long on technique tips and rather short on safety information, which I thought was a bit odd, though given that my performance ended up looking a lot like like this perhaps that was more on the ball than I gave it credit for.

Also, you have to sign a Release From Liability that absolves the bar from any responsibility for any injury you might sustain at any point in this process, up to and including the bartender sneaking up behind you and stabbing you with a harpoon.

So we signed.

We also chose names for ourselves to go on the electronic scoreboard. You can choose any of the axe-related names that they offer (“Polearm”) or make up one of your own (I went with “Axl Rosacia”), or you can go with more prosaic options (“Beast 1” or “Beast 2”). You get your choice of target images, which are projected onto the wooden target, and even if you pick just the Standard Version it alternates between three or four options so it stays interesting.

We spent an hour happily clanking axes off the wall.

Kim has done this before. She has a crew of Science Babes who go out periodically and do Fun Things, and sometime earlier this year they ended up in this place. You could tell which of us had the experience.

I’ve got good aim. I probably hit the bullseye more often than not, in fact – it’s a big bullseye, you’re not all that far from it, and an axe has a lot of surface area to hit it with. But I could never really get the rotation down and it doesn’t count unless the axe sticks in the target. Out of about fifty throws I probably got it to stick maybe half a dozen times. Oliver’s throws were similar. Lauren, it turns out, is rather a natural at this and I will keep this in mind for the future.

But Kim won most of the time, as you would expect.

Go us!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Christmas Report

If all had gone to plan today we’d probably be somewhere in Kentucky right now. It’s a long story. I’ll get to it by and by.

But we had a lovely Christmas here, just the four of us.

Christmas Eve we had our Odd Number of Kinds of Fish dinner – popcorn shrimp, spaghetti with clam sauce, and a Caesar salad since that has anchovies in the dressing. Apparently this is called La Vigilia, though when I was growing up we just called it Christmas Eve dinner. You’re supposed to have seven kinds of fish, but some people have fewer and some have as many as nineteen, which is rather excessive. As long as it’s an odd number the Italian saints are satisfied, I suppose. My dad – the only person in my immediate family when I was a kid who enjoyed eating fish, ironically enough – used to say that one is also an odd number. But we go with three these days because we can find three we like.

For those of you who doubted me when I said that I cannot actually get my iPhone to take decent photographs, well, now you know.

We also had fresh homemade biscuits, and for dessert we had the French Silk pie that I made earlier that day. There were gifts exchanged – a custom from my side of the family, where Christmas Eve is the big holiday – and then we mostly hung out. Lauren’s friend Nolan came over after that and we had a very nice time together.

Christmas Day I continued my tradition of getting up long before anyone else. I’m not sure why this happens routinely, given my general preference for night over day, but this is the one day of the year that I don’t mind so much. It’s quiet, and I can sit by the tree and think about things. Eventually people filter on down.

We decided to have a Christmas brunch, though since it was early afternoon by then perhaps “linner”? “Dunch”? Who knows. But we had bacon that needed to be cooked and a fresh box of eggs, and what more do you need? It was good food shared with loved ones and that’s all that mattered. Conversation largely focused on biology for some reason – bacteria, parasites, and the symptoms and progression of rabies, for the most part – but we had a grand time and even learned a few things. You have your holiday topics, we have ours.

Eventually there was dinner again – ham, potatoes, green bean casserole – and if it sounds like we are a group that thinks from one meal to the next, well, you’re not wrong. Kim decided to make a bourbon glaze for the ham so I looked through the cabinet where such beverages are stored and came back with two bottles that we inherited from my parents, a nearly empty one with a tax sticker from 1978 and another more full one with a tax sticker from 1976. What can I say? We weren’t tee-totalers, but we weren’t really big drinkers either. They made a nice glaze.

Yesterday we started the day preparing for our Second Christmas, which by rights was supposed to be our First Christmas (there will be another next month which will either be the new Second or the Third depending on how you count – we do this holiday up right) except that the worst winter storm in decades pretty much shut down the entire eastern half of the United States on the two days we could have driven to Tennessee so we stayed put and had our own Christmas here (vide supra).

We’ve had three years in a row of Christmas at home now, in this pandemic decade, and we’re starting to create our own traditions for them, which is a nice thing. We’ve discovered we’re a pretty relaxed group that way, and that’s lovely.

But we had plans to be in Tennessee today, so yesterday Oliver and I went off to do some final errands and ransom his now fully operable laptop from the repair shop. This was when Kim texted to let us know that Lauren’s cold was in fact Covid.

The rest of us have all tested negative since then, but rather than take a chance on exposing the extended family we are staying home. It was a sad decision, but the right one. Lauren feels fine – it’s a mild case, fortunately, as one would expect in someone fully vaccinated – and she has gone back to her apartment, where she has more space to rattle around and can cook her own meals without worrying about us.

So we’re here, with a few days of found time to hang out again. Perhaps we’ll keep working on the Christmas card, in the fond hopes that it will be out in January. There’s also a puzzle we’ve been meaning to start. There are books to read and I’ve got a pot of gravy and meatballs simmering on the stove. We’ll see what happens. It would have been good to see everyone, but we’ll figure out a time to do that later.

Merry merry, joy joy.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Night Before Bopmas

Earlier this year I found some time to scan a couple of boxes of letters that my parents had sent to each other when my dad was in the Navy, back in 1959 or so. They were recent high school graduates at the time, and much of what was in them you could probably predict – the ins and outs of daily life for two people who loved and missed each other, with occasional things tucked into the envelopes that they thought the other would find interesting.

My dad served as a radioman on a small-engine repair ship and spent most of his time in the service in Norfolk, though he did go to Havana twice before Castro took over and once got far enough north to see the northern lights. Otherwise, he said, it was pretty uneventful and he rarely ever considered his time in the service as worth bringing up in conversation. My mom was a college student during that whole time, immersed in books and classes, peering through the blue haze of cigarette smoke that filled classrooms in those pre-Surgeon-General’s-Report days. It was a lovely conversation to read, nearly three quarters of a century later.

One of the more interesting finds in those letters were a couple of Christmas poems – parodies of the classic T’was the Night Before Christmas, adapted to the Beat Generation vibes of the late 1950s and filtered through the sensibilities of the US Navy. I have no idea what role my dad or his shipmates may or may not have played in their creation, but as a radioman he had access to the equipment he needed to find and reproduce them.

The first, entitled “The Night Before Bopmas,” is clearly a teletype and was created by one or more intelligent young men who were clearly not being stretched by their responsibilities.

The other, untitled, but addressed to All Hep Cats, may have been the work of a single creator named E. Smith, but is otherwise similar.

They’re a lot of fun to read.

Christmas Eve has always been the bigger holiday on my side of the family but it’s pretty low key this year as it was last year, though we’re all healthy this time. We’re hanging out here at home, on a bitterly cold day in southern Wisconsin. The winds have moderated somewhat from yesterday and the temperature has climbed into positive numbers (Fahrenheit) for the first time since Thursday, but it’s a good day to stay inside.

The chickens are fed, the cats and rabbits are asleep, and the gifts are wrapped. I’ve got lovely music playing as I write this – a singer I’ve only recently discovered named Laufey, which tells you how far behind the times I am as she has apparently been popular on TikTok for a couple of years now. The Christmas cards will go out in January as per our usual practice so we’re not worrying about those at the moment. We’ll have an abbreviated Feast of the Seven Fishes (three this year, if you include the anchovies in the Caesar salad dressing – as long as it’s an odd number it counts) for dinner, and I made a French Silk pie from scratch this afternoon because why not? Perhaps afterward we’ll play cards together.

It’s been a long year. It’s been a long couple of years. But for right now I am warm and dry, surrounded by my family, and generally doing well.

Boppy Xmas to all.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Birthday to Me

I was born on the solstice, when the daylight has ebbed to its lowest and the longest night of the year awaits at sundown. Perhaps this is why I have always loved the quiet darkness of the night more than the frenetic light of day.

I had a lovely birthday yesterday, and if it was perhaps a bit more frenetic than it might have been it was still a good day.

We had travel plans to visit my relatives in Tennessee over Christmas, but the increasingly grim storm forecasts and the correspondingly dire warnings from various agencies charged with monitoring travel conditions finally convinced us that this would not work. There was an interlude of activity involving more permutations of schedules than I could possibly deal with – fortunately Kim enjoys and is good at this sort of thing – and alternate plans have now been made, though the upshot is that we will be home for Christmas this year.

It will be nice, though. We have all we need here.

Once that plan got made, I went out and fortified the chickens against the coming storm and then we went to collect Lauren from school and run a few errands while we were there.

For example, both Oliver and I needed to visit the Apple Store. It turned out that he needs a new battery for his laptop, which will take some time. I wanted them to look at my iPhone to see if I had any settings wrong, or failing that to explain to me why I can’t take decent pictures with it. The tech looked at some of my photos and said, “I see what you mean,” and then made a couple of small changes to my settings but in the end he told me in the politest way possible that this was basically an ID-10-T problem* and I should log into their YouTube channel for some helpful instructional videos or come by and take a class. I suppose it’s nice to know that the problem is not the phone itself and is therefore within my control to fix, but I was really hoping for him to say, “Oh – you have THIS setting wrong. Here – you’re ready to be the next Ansel Adams now.”

Alas, it was not to be.

We also looted the Costco for supplies. Costco is a dangerous place that way. For one thing, they have a lot of great stuff. For another, you are constantly getting Warehoused when you’re there. You stand there in this vast open warehouse of a store staring at the Thing you’re going to purchase and you think, “That is a reasonable amount of Thing to have,” and then you get it back to your nice cozy home and that’s when you realize you have a burlap sack of Thing that will last you until the next millennium. And this lesson never sinks in! You will do this again the next time you’re there, or at least you will if you’re like me.

We picked up Lauren and her friend Chase, who also needed a ride back to Our Little Town, and went out for my birthday dinner at a place that had tasty food but a heating system that was only partially operational on an evening where the outside temperatures were about 9F or -13C, so we sat there in our coats and talked about old movies and the recent World Cup and had a generally grand time, all of us together. And that is what I will remember – sharing a meal in a slightly absurd place and time with family and friends.

Isn’t that what birthdays are supposed to be?

We came home and unpacked, and mostly just hung out in the living room for a while, all four of us together.

It was indeed a lovely birthday.


* Or PEBKAC, if you prefer that label.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

News and Updates

1. Yeah, it’s that time of year when these short little lists are the best I can do. Sometimes a job worth doing is a job worth doing at the bare minimum level, because otherwise it doesn’t get done at all. And I like doing this job, so having it fall by the wayside would just remove one more small scrap of joy in this darkening world for me.

2. Not that others aren’t eager and ready to provide that service for me, though. Remember, kids! Unless someone is being canonized, they don't need to hear from a “Devil’s advocate.”

3. We’ve got the tree up now, and will likely be decorating it later today. It’s a skinny apartment-sized tree so we have to be selective with our ornaments. We looked at getting a real tree this year but for various reasons decided against it. And we looked at getting a bigger artificial one, but for financial reasons (those things are running around $400 these days!) decided against that as well. So choices will be made. The ones I tend to prioritize are the sentimental ones – mostly from when the kids were younger – and the keychains that we pick up on our travels to remind us of places and people we’ve seen.

4. The semester down at Home Campus is now mostly over, with my grades turned in and most of my advisees moving on to other things until classes start up again in January. The class I teach for Remote Campus ends Tuesday and there will be frantic grading at that point no doubt before the holidays can kick into high gear. Online Campus seems to be in a bit of a lull as well, so that’s nice. I’m looking forward to a break in the action.

5. My effort to get into the Christmas Spirit has been flagging but I still have hope. It’s not over yet.

6. Oliver and I continue to watch as many hockey games as we can fit in. The Flyers have reverted to the form that most of the Sports Knobs were predicting back in September and are currently ranked 27th out of the 32 NHL teams (hey – not the bottom!), but they work hard and are fun to watch even if they don’t usually come out on top. And every once in a while they win.

7. I’ve been following up on the Ancestry hint that I got last time and have stumbled into a good sized trove of documents relating to my grandmother’s family, posted by a guy who’s probably a second or third cousin if I read his family tree right. Of course he doesn’t know this, probably, because my branch of the family is not listed on his tree. My great-grandmother was one of nine sisters and the only one of them who was not buried in the same cemetery as the rest of the family, which means that most of the people whose research takes them through that group of sisters don’t include her. But I know she was there, so I just vacuum up the documents for my own purposes. I’m never sure if I want to reach out to the people making the trees without her – what would I say, really? – but someday I might.

8. So der Sturmtrumper has decided to make trading cards of himself in heroic poses, has he? That was his big announcement? I suppose it’s less harmful than the last one he tried, back in November. Has anyone done a dementia test on him recently? I’m absolutely serious about that, by the way.

9. My iPhone no longer backs up to iCloud because I have run out of free space and I have been so far unwilling to pay for more. I’m not sure if this is a problem or not. I will have to think about that.

10. The snowblower still works, which is a) a good thing to know and b) a dreary thing to have to find out on a Saturday morning when all you really want to do is stay inside and drink tea and watch large men chase a small ball on television for a while. Life is complicated that way.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

News and Updates

1. We’re coming down to the end of the semester at all of the various campuses that I work for these days, and so far so good. My class at Home Campus ended last week. My class at Remote Campus ends this week. My class at Online Campus never really ends, but there has been something of a drop in enrollment lately – I suspect the advisors there are waiting to see how the new course revision pans out in practice before sending too many students into it, but that’s just surmise on my part – which means that it’s not that big of a concern. My advisees are mostly set for spring now. Things are calming down.

2. It is grey and misty and foggy out there here in Our Little Town, which is lovely weather as far as I am concerned though it was a bit of a challenge to go out and get the chickens fed.

3. Last week Oliver finished the painting of Mithra he was working on to give to Lauren for her birthday, and it is indeed a work of art worth the wait:

This is the model he was working from, by the way:

We were suitably impressed and proud. Kim and I delivered it to Lauren last Friday, along with a bunch of other stuff, and then went to dinner with her and, eventually, Maxim as well. My family rules.

4. I do believe that a long-term project has finally left my hands, after several false starts, and all that is left now is for me to wait for results. This is a good feeling.

5. I’m trying to get more into the Christmas spirit than I have these last few years, and it’s kind of working I suppose. This does not actually mean I have gotten a start on my Christmas shopping, nor have I done anything concrete to prepare for the holiday other than put up my usual single strand of blue lights across the front of the house, but I hope to get the tree up this weekend and just to approach the holiday with more positive vibes than I’ve been able to muster recently. It’s a goal.

6. Every once in a while Ancestry sends me “hints” that they’ve discovered about people who might be in my family tree somewhere, and every once in a while they’re right. Somebody posted the death notice that was published in the newspaper for my great-great-grandfather, and that was nice to find – he was a Civil War veteran, one of those 90-day wonders at the beginning of the war when they all thought it would be over by the fall harvest. He did his 90 days and noped right out of that whole situation as soon as the opportunity presented itself and then lived to a ripe old age, which speaks to a certain intelligence I suppose. It might very well be why I am here at all, given casualty rates of the Civil War.

7. I’ve been mostly following along with the World Cup this week and right now there is a decent chance that the final will be between Morocco and Croatia and I have to say I’m kind of hoping for it. France won it all last time and doesn’t need to repeat. Argentina and the Netherlands put on a singularly juvenile display of middle school dick waggling in their quarter final game and neither of them should have been allowed to advance to the next round regardless of who won, honestly. So I’m cheering for the weird matchup to prevail.

8. I’m trying not to pay too much attention to the news, because mostly it doesn’t change. If you’re not worried about the survival of the American republic in an age of increasingly overt and violent right-wing extremism, you’re either complacent or complicit.

9. Speaking as a guy who just spent a fruitless quarter hour trying to reach a customer service person, I strongly suspect that at some point soon every corporation in the US will have replaced all of their workers with algorithms and machines and at that point they have absolutely no idea why nobody can afford to buy their products anymore. Say what you will about the solutions he proposed but nobody has ever proven Marx wrong on his diagnoses of the problems of capitalism.

10. I now have my new drivers license, and it does seem to be a step backward to me. The old one was in color, but we are no longer in Oz, Toto, and now we’re back to black and white. But I don’t have to do this again until 2030 which is roughly a hundred years from now in subjective time so I can live with that.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

The World Cup

I haven’t been watching a lot of the World Cup this year.

Some of that is just that I don’t have much time these days. The World Cup is usually something that happens in the summer rather than the last two weeks of the semester, after all, and while I understand why they moved it to this time of year – the weather in Qatar in August is hellish – that doesn’t change the fact that I’m barely able to keep up with things I have to do at this time of year, let alone things I’d like to do.

But some of it is the simple fact that this year’s World Cup is being held in Qatar.

A couple of weeks ago Oliver asked me how the decision gets made as to where the next World Cup will be located, and I explained that it is a complicated process involving bribery, influence peddling, threats both overt and implied, and corruption on a scale that makes the Olympic Committee’s selection process look transparent. Apparently the decision to give this year’s event to Qatar was so far beyond the acceptable limits of even FIFA’s legendary malfeasance and criminal conduct that most of the people who were involved in that decision are now in jail or “out of the game,” which is a polite way of saying that they got shoveled out the door and sacrificed to the authorities before they killed the entire cash cow.

And yet the decision stood.

Also, let’s be honest, Qatar is a wasteland of human evil. It’s a place where people can be jailed or even executed for their sexual orientation (a role model for the modern American right wing that way), and it openly practices human slavery. Much like the 18th-century sugar colonies in the Caribbean, there is a large population of bound labor (euphemistically called “guest workers” or some such nonsense in this case) ruled absolutely by a thin layer of phenomenally wealthy and privileged elites. Several hundred of those “guest workers” died in the process of building the infrastructure for the World Cup. I realize that no country is perfect – and the US is not an exception to that – but the human rights abuses in Qatar are genuinely revolting by any standard of comparison.

But then I always think of the athletes themselves. They’re not the ones responsible for this situation. They go where they’re told. And it’s the absolute pinnacle of their sport – an event that has no real analogue in American sports. How much can I hold them responsible for the larger situation?

I always watch the Olympics, after all, for much the same reason.

So I’ve watched a few games. Not many – again, even if I had no issues with anything the fact is that time and energy are both in short supply this time of year. And I take a small amount of comfort knowing that I have donated no money to this cause – the games I can see were included in the various streaming services that we already pay for now that we don’t subscribe to cable anymore.

This does have its odd moments.

Most of the games are being broadcast on Fox here in the US, and you can insert your own political joke there if you want. We don’t get Fox in any of the streaming services we have, and other than the occasional sporting event I don’t miss it.

But it is being broadcast on Peacock, which I do subscribe to in order to watch the Premier League on weekend mornings. So I can watch games there.

In Spanish.

Now, I do not speak Spanish, not really. I studied it back in middle school and high school, but that was forty years ago. At least half of my students down at Home Campus speak it as a first or second language, however, and between that and my long-ago studies there are certain words that I can pick up out of the stream of commentary. “Pelota,” for example, which means “ball,” and “otra vez,” which means “again,” and a few other words here and there. I’d like to learn the language – it would help me at my job if nothing else, and it is spoken by millions of Americans so it’s probably the most useful language after English to know in this country in general – but so far I have not actually done anything toward that goal.

So I come at this from what is essentially a position of ignorance.

This makes the commentary kind of fascinating, if not particularly useful for me actually following the game. All I really get out of it is tone and rhythm, interspersed with the few words I recognize and the occasional player name, and if you’ve ever sat down and tried to listen to a language you don’t understand the first thing that you learn is that it is very hard to figure out where the words begin and end. It all sort of sounds like one long word (interspersed with rolled r’s, in this case) until you get to something you recognize. As things get more exciting on the pitch the tone will rise and the phonemes will come faster and faster and then somebody will score and the classic 60-to-120-second-long announcement thereof will immediately follow and I know where I am at that point, sort of like stumbling onto a landmark in an unfamiliar city where you’re a tourist.

It all ends up sounding kind of like this:

SedimodabatiloeschalocodecazufrandojaARRRRRRRRRRdelasopenoseerenlabafrequitoPELOTA siconoceseangelesfritodecasaOTRA-VEZ-LA-PELOTAdenadalamesaquelohacerenelespaneradequinovadecasaZIMMERMANestasinochesdelostecosNOLASEPONEQUEARRRRRRRESLAEGUALESDEQUESOYTAMBIENELCINQUENCENTODELUNA



As should be obvious from that, very little of what I can process is actual Spanish – it’s just the vaguely-Spanish-sounding flow of phonemes that this monolingual English speaker hears – but it is all very entertaining and I’m enjoying that part of the broadcasts immensely.

It’s been a strange World Cup overall, from what I’ve been able to tell. The Germans, Danes, and Belgians didn’t make the knockout round, but the US and Australia did. Italy didn’t even qualify. Iran beat Wales, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, Cameroon beat Brazil, Tunisia beat France, and Japan beat Spain.

So we’ll see how it goes now that we’re in the knockout round.

I'll be glad to get back to the Premier League, though.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

News and Updates

1. Day eight with the new furnace. Still warm. Further bulletins as events warrant.

2. I still haven’t been paid for work I did this past summer for one of the three campuses I work for. Mostly this is because nobody can figure out who is in my chain of command at Home Campus or the Mother Ship to sign off on it, and on those rare occasions when somebody is identified they either move to another position or get artfully fired (“reassigned to special projects”). The band is officially stumped. I suppose I should be grateful I’m being paid at all, come to think of it, but it does give me pause regarding whether I should accept further projects.

3. Speaking of work-related confusion, is there any conceivable universe where this would be considered a useful notification?

Just checking.

4. My friend Nick says that he wants to see one of those high-stakes political thriller movies where the nuclear access codes can’t be accessed except through DUO and nobody can get it to work because their browsers are the wrong version or their wifi is too slow for the timed-response approval. I’d pay money to watch one of those, yes I would. I’d probably be rooting for Armageddon, but I would watch.

5. We have not cooked an actual meal this week and may not do so until Saturday. It’s definitely leftover season. We’ve been alternating between Thanksgiving leftovers and gravy (spaghetti sauce to the non-Italians in the audience) and meatballs leftovers, and while it has been very tasty I think we’ll all be grateful for a change of pace.

6. I’m trying to block off some evenings without work, which is a rather foreign concept. Teachers in general have very poor life/work balance skills and mine are pretty much nil. There’s always something to grade or something to prep or something else to write. But there is also hockey to be watched and family to be hung out with and books to read, and that has to count for something.

7. I need to renew my driver’s license. Apparently it’s a “Real ID” – as opposed to the fake ones that you see so often with college students, I guess – so there are extra hurdles. Also, I need to give them my physical description, which is somewhat complicated by the fact that a) I no longer care to know how much I actually weigh and b) specifying a hair color is an act of nostalgia rather than observation. But they don’t really check when you fill things out, so I suppose I could just put down whatever I want.

8. I have acquired a nice winter hat in the approved Home Campus colors, and it is now cold enough to justify wearing it on occasion.

9. I should also get a Home Campus sweatshirt or two, mostly because this will allow me to wear sweatshirts to work. Honestly, the pandemic did quite a number on my eagerness to wear the standard Business Casual academic work uniform anymore. I don’t mind button downs and khakis, but sweatshirts are more comfortable.

10. It is December 1 and I am now willing to acknowledge the existence of Christmas.