D&D Tabletop Virtual Maps

When I first started running D&D games a while back, I drew battle maps on whiteboards or the grid on the back of wrapping paper. When my group moved to playing virtually due to COVID, I started using maps built into a module a bought for use on Roll20, and I searched the web for maps when I needed to make up an encounter. There are lots of really neat looking maps out there.

I don’t imagine I’ll be playing in person any time soon again, but I’ve seen some neat setups that either project onto a table or that turn a TV or monitor horizontal for the display of vivid maps without all the hassle of drawing maps by hand (which can take some time even if you draw crudely, as I do). I’m not much of a builder but decided on a whim on Saturday to try making a frame to hold an old 27″ monitor I had lying around.

I took some rough measurements and bought some 4″x1″ (so actually more like 3.5″ x .75″) lumber, two 8-footh lengths. I also got some small trim pieces and a sheet of plexiglass cut to the approximate size I figured I’d need. I’m pretty bad at carpentry and so tend to make a rough plan rather than to pretend that I’ll measure or cut very precisely. The end result tends to be crude but mostly serviceable work. Here I’ve marked and begun cutting my frame pieces.

Next, I wanted to sort of route out a couple of slots in one of the boards that’d allow me access to the buttons on the bottom of the monitor and that’d let me feed cords through the frame. I sort of eyeballed it and did some crude routing with a drill and a chisel. I should have measured properly, as my button slot is misaligned by a wide margin. By the time I saw how badly it was misaligned, I had already assembled the frame and slid the monitor into it. I can contort my finger in there and push the power button, but this is not the finest craftsmanship, even by my low standards. I may figure out some sort of button offset gadget I could 3D print to allow me to push buttons inside the frame by pressing buttons on the outside, but it’s a low priority.

In the next shot, I’ve got my frame pieces cut and ready for final sanding. You can see from the knot in the one piece that I’m not super finicky about the look of the wood. I sort of like the knot, actually.

I assembled the frame using wood glue and nails. The black band around the frame in the next photo is this neat clamp my dad got me many years ago that’s designed precisely for holding this sort of thing together while letting the glue dry. Next, I drilled some pilot holes through the plexiglass and the frame. My intent was to both superglue the plexiglass down and nail it in place, with some trim pieces finishing the look and covering some of the monitor’s bezels. I carefully got as far as getting the plexiglass cleaned up and attached to the frame, and I slid the monitor into the frame for a satisfyingly snug fit. Then I cut a piece of wood to hold the monitor into place from behind and screwed that into the sides of the box, long-way (not pictured). When I turned it back over, I found that in spite of my clean-up job, I had managed to get some sawdust between the monitor and the plexiglass — and not just a little. A few specks I could’ve lived with, but it was very noticeable. I tried shop-vacuuming the dust out to no avail, and finally I decided to try carefully prying the plexiglass back up. It cracked as I did so.

So I went back to the hardware store to get more plexiglass. Luckily, they still had the piece they had cut my bit from, so they just cut me a new piece out of it at no additional charge, since I had paid for the whole sheet (I don’t know why they didn’t give me the whole sheet to begin with). I was able to give more precise measurements for the plexiglass this time based on the dimensions of the assembled frame, so I wound up with a better cut than my own prior trim-up job on the the initial plexiglass to make it fit my frame.

In the next shot, you can see that I’ve moved from using an old end table in the garage as a workbench to using the table in our breakfast nook. A little sawdust in the kitchen never hurt anybody. Here I’ve thoroughly cleaned the frame and monitor and plexiglass, re-glued the plexiglass, and have affixed three of the trim pieces using pilot holes and nails. I managed not to crack the plexiglass in spite of hammering nails through the pilot holes. I made the holes about the size of the nail, but not terribly deep, so the nails could slip easily into the holes but still bite into the wood down deep in the frame and hold things together.

And here’s the finished piece, with a little sawdust on the exterior. When I peeled the film off the plexiglass, I was left with a nice clean surface. There’s a gap in the trim on that lower left corner, and the nails don’t look great. I didn’t attend too carefully to spacing of the nails. The slots I hand-routed in the bottom (not pictured here) look a little rough-hewn, but then the whole aesthetic here is pretty rough hewn. I didn’t feel like waiting on stain or varnish, and besides, I didn’t figure I ought to make this thing any more flammable than it already is by adding chemicals to the wood.

The monitor’s bottom bezel (pictured at right here) is wider than the others, and I decided just to live with it, since I thought a uniform trim width was preferable to varying trim widths.

Finally, I plugged the thing in and pulled a map up on it:

You can see that I’ve placed a few of minis on the map too. The idea here is that in the future, I might be able to run a game using Roll20 and show the map here. I can then drag the map around as needed to expose different parts of it within the frame so that we can see big maps without using a lot of table real estate. And they can be vibrant maps that’re much nicer to look at than my crude sketches. I’d like to figure out how to properly go into full-screen mode to get rid of the browser window bits (Roll20 isn’t great for this). But I’ve got lots of time before I’ll feel comfortable playing in person anyway, so there’s time for that yet.

Bunnies

A couple of weeks ago while I was mowing the lawn, a little bunny ran out and tried to fling itself under my mower. This was not my first run-in with bunnies in the yard, though I would not have you, reader, imagine me as some Mr. McGregor chasing rabbits out of my garden. I think bunnies are cute. But, a few years ago, there was an unfortunate and grisly and, I assure you, unintentional bunny mishap as I prepared the ground to put in some new plants. Earlier this year, my dog found a couple of baby bunnies in the yard and made a bit of a mess of them, to the horror of my children, who were in the yard at the time. So when this little varmint flung itself at my mower from out of nowhere, I was horrified but, thankfully and I daresay heroically, I was able to avoid running it over. Later, I found a second bunny, and both are pictured above. I was shocked at how close they let me get. I didn’t spend much time looming over them, as I didn’t want to terrify them any more than was necessary to document that I am not a monster.

COVID Update #7

This past Sunday night, before the kids started school for the year on Monday, I got word that there had already been a case of COVID among the staff of my son’s school. Similar news from my daughter’s school landed on Monday. This isn’t surprising, really, but it’s discouraging. Our school system provided a pretty crummy set of options for returning to school — either virtual with the possibility (and, it turns out, reality) of limited access to certain classes or in-person with the associated COVID risks. Other school systems have taken what seem more sensible approaches to me, with in-person and virtual school staggered to reduce in-person class sizes. I really don’t understand why we didn’t do something similar. I wrote a fair few emails to school officials late in the summer, to no avail. We opted for in-person schooling, hoping sense would prevail and that school would be shifted to virtual. So now my kids are in the building; at least they have their correct classes. It certainly feels like a bit of a Sophie’s choice.

I get that none of this is easy for school administrators. Federal funding has been tied to in-person attendance, for example. Well, schools are already under-funded. I imagine it’s a bit of a Sophie’s choice for administrators who wish to provide education but have their own options limited. Still, it’s frustrating, and I am consistently baffled by some of the magical thinking and lack of basic human decency and any sense of equity in our government at all levels (which is not to say by all individuals in those governments).

COVID numbers in Knoxville had begun to look better in the week or two leading up to school. I had seen a lot more people with masks on out in public. I think it’s finally been normalized enough that most reasonable people have adapted to the inconvenience of it, and that has been heartening. But the university opened back up and kids started partying, and naturally that resulted in hot spots on campus. It seems likely that the return to school (not just for college kids) will further the spread. The numbers in the county are beginning over the last week to creep back up.

Gas prices have risen a bit, though they’re still a dime or so under $2. Groceries on the whole are available, though paper products and isopropyl alcohol and such remain in pretty short supply.

Another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by police offers this week. They shot him in the back while his children watched from his car; now he’s paralyzed. He was unarmed and doing nothing wrong. Police apologists are saying that he had a knife in his vehicle (which he was not inside). Protests erupted as they should have, and a 17-year-old white boy shot three protesters with an assault rifle, killing two. Police did not shoot him.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention has been held this week. I haven’t watched it, though it sounds like it’s been a circus. It closed, apparently, with a rally on the White House grounds, which besides being a breach of ethics at best (and actually a breach of the Hatch Act, meaning that it’s illegal) also seems profoundly risky during a pandemic. These conventions are always circuses. I didn’t watch the Democratic convention either, though I understand it was more measured. I don’t typically go in for politics that much, though I do vote. I’m starting to pay a lot more attention to local politics. I feel so helpless about policy at the national or even state level, where I think largely you pay to play and it’s hard for politicians (if they even try) to understand how most of us live. And I say that as a very privileged person who knows he’s disconnected from how hand-to-mouth many people live. But at the local level, double digit vote differentials can determine outcomes and influence policy, I’m learning. I don’t like this stuff, but I’m feeling more these days as if it’s important for me to become more engaged and to lend my voice (or at least my vote) more conscientiously on the local scene rather than leaving those who are not as privileged as I am to shoulder the whole burden of caring and engaging. I’m not patting myself on the back here; it is pretty much the very literal least I can possibly do that is not doing nothing.

That was a bit of a digression, I know, but these things — racism and politics and public health — seem so profoundly intertwined right now that it’s hard to think of one without thinking of the others.

On the whole, for my very fortunate family, things seem normalish right now. The kids were definitely ready to see friends and have more structure in their days again, so even though the decision to send them to school was very difficult, I think it’s been good for them so far. Let’s just hope we don’t regret it. I’m sort of skeptical school will remain in session for long. The sense I’m getting from emails being sent out these days is that the school is basically trying to get the kids trained on how to use virtual schooling technology (most of my son’s first week focused on this) so that when school inevitably goes virtual in the coming weeks, the kids will be better equipped to handle it.

COVID Update #6

COVID-19, while only getting worse after a brief trend toward improvement, has all but fallen to the background of the national dialogue in recent weeks. The murder of George Floyd by police offers a few weeks ago was a straw on the proverbial camel’s back, and led to a number of protests and marches, which police largely responded to with remarkable force. Trump has continued to stir up his base, today apparently tweeting a video in which a supporter shouted in support of white power. He has also continued to weaken the federal government, removing people fit to do their jobs and putting supporters with little experience in their place. It is shocking and pretty scary how unfit he is for the office and how little the other branches of the government have really done to try to rein him in. It is such a strange time, and I feel like I’m living in a satire or some sort of over-the-top dystopia. I feel pretty powerless. Mostly I am responding by donating money where I think it’ll help, but that feels pretty toothless.

Meanwhile, COVID cases and deaths continue to rise. Cases in Tennessee continue to climb as bars and other businesses open up. Texas and Florida have become hot spots. People have flocked to beaches for summer vacations. Nationally, the death rates have fallen some, but here’s a graph of a big recent uptick in cases (presumably deaths will follow):

That’s the graph since March, and we’ve got more daily cases than ever. The biggest hospital in Austin this week had all of its ICU beds full.

I see people wearing masks in public, but I see plenty who don’t, too. Plenty of folks have masks but have their noses exposed.

This is a big election year, and Republicans are limiting polling places. I read that in some places, single polling locations are now going to have to serve hundreds of thousands of people. Trump and his ilk have tried to prevent mail-in voting options. Democrats traditionally fare better at the polls when more voters show up, so this all makes sense but is very disturbing.

Meanwhile, Black people continue to be treated badly. Amid all the protests, after some of the gatherings had begun to dissipate, several Black people were found hanged, their deaths apparently ruled suicides. Police officers in Wilmington (near where I grew up) were recorded venting, using racial slurs and wishing (or even maybe plotting) violence toward African Americans. It feels like we’ve regressed 100 years. It’s shameful.

I worry a lot that Trump with Russian or other allies will steal the coming election and that our government and its checks and balances will further erode over the following four years. I worry that he’ll do more damage in the next few months in any case. Biden is the current Trump alternative, and he’s a milquetoast establishment candidate I have trouble getting excited about, though I’d take very nearly anybody with an ounce of intelligence and a rumor of integrity over Trump.

Gas is still cheap. You can get toilet paper if you go to the store at the right time, and when I last went, restrictions on how much meat you could buy had been lifted. So things feel a little more normal on the surface, but when you read the news, it’s clear that the new normal is anything but normal.

Giant Pencil or Tiny Watermelon?

A couple of days ago, I needed some lime zest and lime juice for a recipe. I’ve been a bit of a slob about the kitchen lately, so I just left the lime halves lying around, and today it occurred to me that they looked like tiny watermelon halves.

Also, in the U.S., we’ve had nearly 90,000 deaths from COVID-19. But don’t worry, states are opening back up before we know it’s safe, and people are blithely going out without regard to the safety of themselves or others. I’m sure it’ll be ok. As long as we don’t test people, Trump has said recently, then we won’t have any new cases to report.

In other news, I know I said that I had left some limes lying around, but actually those are watermelon halves after all. I know I also said that it was a tiny watermelon. But it’s actually an extra-large watermelon. And an extra large pencil! I wrote this post with it. Also the pencil isn’t a pencil, it is a mastodon named Chuck who assures me that truth and facts and reason and empathy don’t matter anymore.

COVID Update #5

I’ve been eating junk cereal again and today was struck by how the back of the box of my Cinnamon Toast Crunch depicts pretty well the current state of mind of a lot of the world. This image takes up the whole of the back of the jumbo sized box:

If you’re not afraid to breathe when you must scuttle out for provisions, there’s some chance you’re outraged that the gubmint is trying to limit your freedoms as a ‘murican. Or maybe you’re outraged at those imbeciles. Or maybe you’re just not used to being around your family as much as the last few weeks have called for and are a little on edge. Maybe you’re just stir crazy. Maybe you work in a grocery store where people without masks breathe on you all day. Maybe you work in a hospital, risking your health to help others. I don’t believe this is a special edition box of cereal printed for this moment in time, but it certainly seems to fit the general mood.

Gas yesterday at my usual station was $1.699. Grocery availability was reasonable, though some things are still being rationed. I was able to buy a 6-pack of toilet paper for the first time in weeks. I did have to go to a second store to get some cannellini for a white chicken chili.

School is officially shut down for the year, and the district has shared plans for calculating final grades. AP exams are still on for my daughter. A driver’s ed course I had signed her up for is moving to an online format for the classroom portion. My son is having an extended break. He is chewing through books very rapidly, which is nice, as he had really slowed down his reading for a while. He spends a lot of his afternoons out in a hammock in the yard with a book.

Some neighbors continue to have guests, which is sort of disturbing.

My hair is about as long as it’s been in my adult life; so is my beard, though that I could trim confidently. I figure if I’m going to look like a caveman, I may as well wear the whole look.

Our postal service is apparently struggling, and people are buying stamps to try to help save the organization. I ordered a couple of books of dinosaur stamps I’m a little excited about. This matters because there’s a very plausible fear that with an election coming up in November, we’ll need to vote by mail if social distancing is still called for. If our authoritarian president allows the post office to go bust, he increases his odds of winning, as greater voter participation tends to go badly for Republicans. It’s shocking that this is a thing we have to worry about. Who would have thought 5 or 6 years ago that this would be a worry?

Life for me remains mostly as it was before the pandemic, though I feel a little more contaminated when I come home from the grocery store now than I did before, and I go outside the neighborhood a little less than I had before (but not much; I was a homebody to begin with). I do feel like I’m living at the top of a slide down into an authoritarian dystopia, which is unsettling and a little hard to fathom. Maybe it’s also hyperbole. I do hope so.

In Spite of Ourselves

I don’t have big story about how John Prine shaped my worldview or how his keen understanding of the human condition has imbued my own mortal struggle with meaning. It seems as if many do, as if his recent death is for many as significant as the death of author David Foster Wallace was for me. I think I understand the feeling, though my own connection to Prine was a thin one.

I liked his music. I remember first hearing his song “We’re Not the Jet Set” about 20 years ago. At the time, I listened to an up-and-coming local Bluegrass station a lot on my morning commute, and I really liked this clever duet. The DJ said John Prine was the male half of the pair (Iris DeMent sang with him), and that’s when I learned his name. I’ve heard him here and there over the years, and in the last year or so, I’ve listened to his music a fair bit. My son and I had listened to a lot of Prine’s music over the last couple of months in particular. So he was in my frequent rotation already when the news of his having caught COVID-19 broke.

Musical talent doesn’t come very naturally to me. I can pick out melodies with a little trial and error, but my efforts to learn the guitar or the ukulele have fizzled out in recent years. I do occasionally pick up one of these instruments, though. Last weekend, having listened to Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves” a lot recently, I thought it’d be fun to try to learn it to the best of my little ability on the ukulele. It’s got just three chords — C, F, and G — that are all easy to play on the uke. I was able to pick it up fairly easily, though strumming one rhythm while singing another proved difficult.

I don’t remember what provoked it, but I wound up thinking it’d be fun to amp up the song’s comedic potential by writing some alternate lyrics in which the members of the duet were a well-known odd couple. My mind turned to Frodo Baggins and Gollum, and I spent a few minutes Saturday morning plunking away on the uke and tinkering with some new lyrics. Prine died the Tuesday after.

I’m under no illusions that it’s a fitting homage to Prine, and I’ve got no real business trying to create an homage, but the timing of his death and of my working on this happened to coincide. So I give you my variation of John Prine and Iris DeMent’s “In Spite of Ourselves.” Verses should be sung in the voices of Frodo and Gollum, alternating, with the refrain sung as a duet. I’ve kept some of the original phrasing, and where a line feels like too much to cram into the standard rhythm, that’s on purpose too, though I won’t insist that it’s necessarily good. The closing line is to be spoken earnestly, with a good-natured shake of the head, in the voice of Gollum.

In Spite of Ourselves

He don’t like to eat stewed bunny.
He thinks cheatin at riddles ain’t funny.
He’d take jewelry over money.
He goes to ground when the weather’s sunny.
He’s my stalker, I’m his precious,
He’s never gonna let me go.

He ain’t had taters since he left the fellas.
He cannot see that Sam is jealous.
He ain’t too sharp but he gets things done.
Eats his lembas like it’s oxygen.
Nasty hobbitses, has my precious,
I’m never gonna let ’em go.

In spite of ourselves, we’ll end up burnin’ up in Mordor.
Against all odds, precious we’re the big door-prize.
We’re gonna spite the fingers right off of our handses.
There won’t be nothing’ but big ol’ rings dancin’ in our eyes.

He thinks my friend Sam’s too needy.
Seeing my necklace makes him greedy.
He likes to go off and argue with himselveses.
Swears like a sailor when spotted by elveses.
He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’,
He’s never gonna let me go.

Shelob will be glad to eat him,
Filthy hobbit never thought that I would cheat him.
Just because I called him master,
He thought he’d avoid disaster.
It was fictitious, now here’s my precious,
I’m never gonna let it go.

In spite of ourselves, we’ll end up burnin’ up in Mordor.
Against all odds, precious we’re the big door-prize.
We’re gonna spite the fingers right off of our handses.
There won’t be nothing’ but big ol’ rings dancin’ in our eyes.

In spite of ourselves.

COVID-19 Update #4

I went to buy our week’s worth of groceries this weekend and found the vibe pretty different. The CDC has recommended wearing some kind of covering over mouth and nose to reduce the spread of your own germs. A fair few people are doing so, more at my local co-op than at the chain grocery store. At the co-op, there was a weird sort of stalemate any time I drew near anyone. I didn’t come very close to anyone, to be clear, but any time it seemed a possibility, there was this furtive eye contact and a tacit agreement to sort of circle one another or hang back until it was my turn to approach whatever we were competing for. I felt a little criminal. At the small co-op, workers collected buggies and sanitized them, and they sanitized the credit card terminal’s stylus between uses and asked that people only use the stylus. By contrast, at the chain store, people wandered down the middles of aisles, shopped in groups, and seemed generally less concerned with keeping their breath to themselves, though many did wear face coverings. Both stores had plastic barriers between customer and cashier. Both were fairly well stocked, with paper products notably absent at the chain store. I did not have a face covering this weekend and regretted it; next weekend I will, if it’s a pair of briefs and some pipe cleaner.

Gas is under two bucks, though I forget exactly how much it is. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that figure start with a one, though.

My neighbors are having work done on their godawful pool, and other neighbors are have had other workers doing yardwork. I saw several neighbors with company visiting this weekend. Nobody comes into our house, and nobody leaves it except to walk the dog cautiously or, a little, to play in the backyard. Even that I feel a little weird about. We’re still having pizza delivered on Fridays as has been our habit for a while, and our pizza place has a hands-free situation that prevents me from having to sign a receipt or get near the delivery person, who puts my pizza boxes on the porch and loiters until I wave them away. It’s nice. I could get used to more hands-free services.

I planted my little garden I had dug last weekend, putting in mostly peas, carrots, and tomatoes, with a few broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi plants just to mix it up a little. I don’t know if any of these will grow. The tomato seeds were mostly ones we saved from some tomatoes we ate a few years ago. The others were seeds we had purchased some years back. I did find some potting soil around the house that I used to enrich some of the soil, but the ground I’m planting in is not the most hospitable, so we’ll see how it goes.

Mostly, life remains near-normal for my family. We’re home-bodies in general anyway.

I’ve heard of lots of people having trouble with their internet, but mine has been stable so far.

The Prime Minister of England is in intensive care, having contracted the virus. Nearly 11,000 people have died of the virus in the U.S. so far, and we have I think 300,000-plus confirmed cases. A few famous people have died.

The president of the U.S. continues to lie and suppress opinions contrary to his own, and the sycophants he has surrounded himself with continue to drive the country into the ground. It’s hard to imagine a government more tainted by corruption and bumbling idiocy than this one. Wisconsin today opted to hold their presidential primary tomorrow instead of delaying, and the implication is that conservative politicians are doing so because they know it will suppress the democratic vote. This seems on brand, and it is unconscionable.

My friend and colleague wrote this post relating sheltering at home to caring for a bunny, and though that sounds a little weird on the surface, her post is well worth a read, for it is both wise and hilarious. You should give it a read.

COVID-19 Update #3

We mostly stayed home over the past week, going out for a couple of medical appointments (nothing COVID-19 related) and having one medical appointment via video, which I could sure get used to, though I suppose there are limits (“hey, Doc, I’ve got this bump between my butt cheeks, here let me just drop trow and try to get my butt real close to the camera where are you going?”). I mowed the yard. We decided to bring back our garden, which we haven’t had for a couple of years because the last time we grew one, nobody really wanted to weed it, so it became a mess pretty quickly. My inclination right now is to be more resigned to whatever lies ahead than to be alarmist. So I’m not packing a go-bag or unrolling razor wire around my property or planning to feed my family for months from a little 6×8 plot or anything. But having a little garden, as we used to, will be nice, will make me feel like we’re another day or two from starvation if things do wind up going sideways. If only my kids ate vegetables.

Here’s the start of the garden. First I broke up all the earth with a shovel, so I could then till it a bunch to break the big chunks into smaller chunks. I’d like to get some decent soil rather than trying to grow a garden in red clay, but I also don’t want to be one of the yahoos packing the parking lot of the hardware/etc store now that Spring has arrived and spreading whatever I may or may not have around (or picking something up). I’ve grown veggies in this soil before, and I reckon I can manage it again.

I went to the grocery store today too, and it seemed a little farther from post-apocalyptic than it did when I last went. Many staples were either missing or in short supply, but there were paper towels, and there was meat, butter, milk, some bread. There were some canned goods too, and rice, but no flour. The store is imposing limits on how much of some things you can buy, which is a little annoying if you’re trying to just buy regular groceries for the week as I’m used to doing, but of course it makes sense and is why things are available that weren’t available a week ago.

We’ve tried using cloth napkins at times over the years, but it never sticks. I feel a little guilty. We’ve been using paper towels for a while (the narrow sheets, at least), and at some point this week, we started tearing those in half so that we’re not using as many. It makes me think of my grandmother carefully opening gifts and smoothing and saving the paper. Hopefully the world will right itself and we’ll keep some of these slightly less bad habits afterward.

There’s confusion about masks. Medical staffers need masks to protect them. People are sewing cloth masks at home that I suppose somebody is distributing to somebody? I think it’s lovely that people are trying to contribute in this way, though I’m skeptical of the efficacy of the masks and worry indeed that they’ll do more harm than good, being likely ineffective and potentially carrying the virus if handled by unknowing carriers. It’s a grander and more selfless gesture than my little victory garden, and the sap in me who gets a little misty thinking about this sort of outpouring of human kindness and cooperation has to tell the more vocal cynic to pipe down.

Lots of my neighbors seemed to have company this weekend. It’s a little distressing. Do they just not believe in science? I live in a conservative area, so that isn’t a rhetorical question. Well, it is when posed to my reader, but it is also a valid question here. A couple of neighbors have stuck teddybears in a window. My son stuck one in his window for a day but got tired of having his blinds up, and who can blame him, since these days he runs around in his underwear and spends a lot of time doing headstands in his room.

Never have I felt such a virulent disgust for any person than I feel for Donald Trump. This has been the case from day one, but it grows with every new inconceivable thing the bastard does. Today he announced an extension through April of the social distancing guidelines he has questioned to date. I think this is good, and I’m surprised he could be convinced to do it. He also went on Twitter to talk about the ratings of his daily briefings about COVID-19. My hatred for this man is not political. Certainly, my beliefs differ from the ones he claims to hold. But I would take a dignified, responsible adult of any party over this vacuous buffoon. I have felt shame ever since he became president, but his lack of a capacity to operate on any principles more sophisticated than the basest self-regard is especially appalling right now. I’m sure it will be somehow more appalling tomorrow, still more the day after that.