Biking in Winter

Some days I agonize about whether or not to ride my bike outside. Even with the major improvement of a smart trainer and video game-like ride platform, I don’t get the mental health benefit of being unavailable and out of the house when I ride in the garage.

But some days I don’t agonize, because the weather is so abysmal that, even though I would commute in it, but I’d never voluntarily leave the house to ride in it. Think: 37 degrees, steady rain, in the pitch dark.

Today was one such day, or at least it was when I took the outside picture (right before sunset). Continue Reading >>

A Different View

Yesterday morning I woke up to something astonishing: A different view.

Lopez Island View
A dry morning on Lopez Island in December — I had to take a picture.

Benji, my parents, and I have relocated to a house on Lopez Island for five days. Before we left, I felt extremely reluctant about the trip. Just the prospect of all the logistics overwhelmed me. But I came around to going for at least a few days, and so on Wednesday morning Benji and I embarked.

Our travel included just enough excitement to keep things interesting. We initially planned to catch the 10:20 sailing to Lopez, but arrived just in time to catch the 9:25 sailing. Surprise! And on the crossing, we witnessed something entirely new to me: emergency drills for the crew. They responded to a simulated car fire and to an abandon ship alarm. I’ve ridden ferries for my entire life and never witnessed that before. It was fascinating! Continue Reading >>

Leave Your Dignity at the Door

Imagine that you agreed, more than a month ago, to play a game that involved taping three large balloons to your back and running around trying to snatch balloons from other people while preventing yours from being snatched. (If this sounds like Mario Kart Balloon Battle, you’re right. Our child independently invented a live version of it.) Your child has keenly anticipated this event, scheduling it with participating family members and counting down the days until this thrilling activity occurs. Continue Reading >>

Remote Learning is Hard

I started to write, “It’s hard to believe, but we’ve done second grade remotely for four months already.” To be honest, though, I can hardly believe that only four months have passed. It feels more like a year. 

We have all the advantages that should make remote schooling a success: A space and device dedicated to our child’s school, two work-from-home parents, an excellent internet connection, a devoted and engaged teacher, and a child who adapts to technology easily.

Despite all these advantages, remote schooling feels like a slow slide to failure. I don’t know if it’s his personality, his age, the situation, or some combination, but tracking and completing all his work eludes our child. He drops off Zoom calls early, loses physical papers, and avoids asynchronous work. He wants to play with his toys or with us, and “finishes” assignments with the minimal amount of work, not trying his best, just minimally touching it so he can say he’s done and can move on.  Continue Reading >>

Thanksgiving 2020: A Pandemic Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving

If I had to pick out one theme for our four days of Thanksgiving celebration, I couldn’t do much better than my child repeating “I can’t wait one more second” at decreasing intervals for hours. It really encapsulates the impatience, the demandingness, and the frequency of repetition that truly has driven me to the brink over this alleged holiday. 

When I heard my coworkers talking today about their “calm,” “relaxing,” “chill” long weekends spent watching movies, having a weekend away, maybe going out for walks or otherwise leisurely enjoying the weather, I felt like I had entered some strange parallel universe. Could they truly be talking about the same weekend I had just endured? “Frustrating,” “trying,” and “high-stress” would more accurately reflect my experience. Certainly I returned to work more exhausted, run-down, and hopeless than when I left for the long weekend — and that’s saying something, given how I was doing before. Continue Reading >>

Thanksgiving 2020 Pictures

Thanksgiving Dinner 2020
The tail end of our Thanksgiving dinner: The three of us in person and my parents on Zoom. I wouldn’t say a combined Zoom meal worked real well. You just can’t have a real conversation. But we still enjoyed the pie.
Ferguson Family Board Game Testing
We’re (okay, honestly I’m the most excited about this I think) creating our own board game. I’m putting way too much time into it for something that’s never going to go anywhere.
Benji's First D&D Adventure 2
On Saturday we created D&D characters and Ian DM’d our first adventure. It went surprisingly well. The hardest part was that Benji was so excited he couldn’t sit still, so I had him take breaks to run laps around the house.
Benji's First D&D Adventure 1
Benji is extremely excited to play D&D. He really wants a pet xorn or flumph. Preferably both.
Christmas Tree Farm 2020
A pandemic Christmas picture.
Christmas Tree Acquistion 2020
Sunday morning we acquired our Christmas tree. The u-cut lot was totally bare, so we had to settle for a pre-cut tree. It fit in our car, though! (If I look a little frayed, well, that’s accurate.)

Pandemic Presents Only Choices With Consequences

One of the things I find most fascinating (and personally relevant) about this pandemic is how each individual judges their risk of contracting COVID-19. As a rule, human beings are terrible judges of risk in today’s world. Our risk assessment ability evolved at a time when risks were pretty straightforward: Is the tiger chasing me? RUN AWAY NOW or die. We’re not well equipped to decide whether flying on an airplane, eating Thanksgiving with family members, or going for a walk with a friend could infect us with an invisible disease that can take up to two weeks to manifest itself — if it manifests any symptoms at all. Continue Reading >>