I love this arcane stuff

Jane Seymour turns 70

My wife had purchased a few bushels of apples over the late summer. She kept them in the basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. But by December, the last of the apples were looking wrinkled.

“They’re wisened,” I observed.  This led to a conversation about why the word has a short I rather than long I sound, though it has one S rather than two. Maybe because the long I sounds more like someone who is wise? I love arcane stuff like this, items that make me ponder.

Not a new decade

My friend David and I had a nice back-and-forth about whether the decade should start with 2021 since the century began with 2001. I favored the inconsistency. After all, September is the ninth month, not the seventh.

I think he was won over by how we define people. “An individual who has been alive for two full decades is referred to as being in their 20s for the next decade of their life, from age 20 to 29.” 

Census stuff

My Census buddy, also named David, and I exchange articles about the Census. Several of his finds I’ve used in various articles. I noted for him a Daily Kos report indicating that “the state-level population data from the 2020 census that is needed to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives is not expected to be released until April 30, four months after the original deadline.”

Likewise, “the more granular population data needed for states to actually draw new districts won’t be released until at least after July 30, which is also a delay of at least four months from the original March 31 deadline. Consequently, these delays will create major disruptions for the upcoming 2020 round of congressional and legislative redistricting.

“New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice released an in-depth report in 2020 looking at which states have deadlines that are in conflict with a potentially delayed data release schedule and what the impact of a delay may be.

“The most directly affected states are New Jersey and Virginia, which are the only two states that are set to hold legislative elections statewide in 2021 and would normally redraw all of their legislative districts this year.”

I remain a Census geek.

Music and art

My friend and FantaCo colleague Rocco tipped me off about the book Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (2015). It has a graphic that would have been on a Kitchen Sink Chronicles if FantaCo had ever published it back in the 1980s.

I had just purchased The Beatles (The White Album) [6 CD + Blu-ray]. So I gave him the three-CD set I bought a couple of years ago but didn’t need anymore.

We got into an arcane conversation about the album Graceland by Paul Simon. I had purchased the 25th Anniversary Edition (2011) CD a few years back. It also featured the Under African Skies film on DVD. I gave my old copy of the Graceland CD to a blogger buddy who had never heard it.

But Rocco had NOT purchased it, and I knew why. It was because it did NOT include the 6-minute version of Boy in the Bubble. Rocco had purchased the 12″ from the Music Shack record store back when it came out. I tried to get a copy but it never arrived. Rocco lent me his 12″ and I recorded the song on a cassette. But we BOTH were disappointed that the song failed to show up on the anniversary edition.

NOT the third wife of Henry VIII

The performer  Jane Seymour turns 70 today. I often note people who reach three score and ten in this blog. Though I’ve seen her in few guest appearances, a miniseries or two, and some infomercials I’ve come across, I really only know her from one thing. And if you know her for only one thing, it’s probably the same show: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t watch it regularly, but I didn’t turn it off when I happened across it.

School days in the era of coronavirus

20 percent cut

school daysAll summer, the issues of whether my wife, a teacher, and my daughter, a high school student would return to their traditional school days were up in the air. My wife and I have been watching the seemingly endless stories about the perils of colleges and other schools that have already begun their semesters.

In the city of Albany, there was a big push to allow students and students a choice. The Albany School District had an August 24 enrollment choice deadline. Leading into that, the district held several “virtual forums to provide families with the most up-to-date information and the opportunity to ask questions.” Some were building-specific; these would explain the protocols in those particular spaces. There were also district-wide forums.

To be honest, I didn’t attend any of the events. My rationale was that I was all Zoomed out. I did, however, vote in the enrollment choice poll. We voted Yes to in-class learning. The infection rate for Albany County has remained less than 1%, despite a few stupid college parties.

Also, my daughter wanted to go back to school. She thrives as a social being and hated whatever ersatz learning the school was forced into in mid-March through June.

Plan I

Virtual student orientation for students and parents and guardians were organized. The topics included orientation to the new classroom environment, and health and safety protocols. Also, they provided orientation to Google Classroom and a virtual learning environment. Students would hear about appropriate social distancing protocols, and the use and requirements for masks and face coverings.

After virtual instruction for all students for a week, the schools would begin to “implement identified instructional model (in-person, hybrid, or virtual), with early dismissal each day. By Tuesday, Sept. 29, all schools would “implement full days of instruction” by the preferred mode.

The budget surprise

Oh, geez. Schools Hit with 20% Cut by Governor Cuomo Right Before Start of Tumultuous School Year. “New York State budget office informed school districts statewide that it was temporarily withholding 20 percent of the State’s payments. This presents a major challenge for all New York school districts,”

Cuomo and labor leaders have written to New York’s congressional delegates urging them to provide $59 billion to the Empire State “to avoid what the governor predicts will be devastating cuts on state and local services.”

And suddenly, after all of the planning for options, Albany High School will be all virtual in the fall of 2020. My daughter is not happy. Moreover, she complained that I hadn’t told her the news. Hey, she was just getting up when I was going off to work at 10:30 a.m…

Back to school

Meanwhile, my wife IS going back to in-person teaching. Protocols are in place, but they seemed to be tweaked on a thrice-weekly basis. As a teacher of English as a New Language teacher, she’s hoping to get a face shield. It’s difficult to show visually how to enunciate while wearing a mask.

My wife was less worried about herself than bringing something home to her somewhat older husband. We’re just crossing our fingers. And our toes.

This bit of satire is essentially true.

Keeping up with the news

“I read the news today. Oh, boy.”

CarolEarly in our marriage, I was mystified by how my wife didn’t know of events in recent history. And I don’t mean it happened the day before yesterday. It was a function of the fact that I read the newspaper regularly and watched at least one national news broadcast almost daily.

I won’t say it’s flipped entirely but it’s definitely changed. She gets up at 7 a.m. to get the news from overnight. I used to do that pretty much until the coronavirus struck. For me, I realized that there was a numbing sameness. The details would differ – 58,000 dead in the US, or 85,000, or 130,000. It’s surging in state X but declining in state Y.

It’s that I can no longer deal with what feels like ephemeral information. Is this part of the state in phase one or phase two? I know the “big-picture” stats, enough to know that just as Florida wanted to ban New Yorkers, now New York wants to keep Floridians out.

So when my wife asks me some drill-down questions, my standard response is “I can look it up.” Can we go inside this type of business? Since the rules will change in two weeks or two months, my brain says, “Don’t care!”

Part of the filtering involves listening to IMPOTUS, who will take both sides of many issues. Are we cutting back on testing? “Yes.” “No, I was kidding.” “I never joke about things like that.” There is no reason to pay attention when he constantly contradicts himself. My wife will ask what did he say about a particular issue. Heck, I don’t even know anymore.

Natal day

I prefer the more traditional ways my wife and I confound each other. It’s a matter of philosophy. She’ll ask me if I want to throw out the toothpaste squeezed to near empty. I’ll toss it AFTER I have replaced it. She’ll throw it out first. But her way, there’s no toothpaste until we get more. Now THAT’S an important issue!

Anyway, she’s having a birthday today. She very wisely is not on Facebook. So her friends contact me, and I convey messages to her because that’s what I do.

With chewing gum and duct tape

bad address

chewing gum and duct tapeOne of the challenges of my wife working/teaching from home is that technology can be a PITA. This all happened on 5 May.

She had an appropriate story to share with one of her students from some website. So she set up a meeting with ME to make sure the technology worked. It did not. I could hear her, but not the item she wanted to share. The next day, the same problem; the YouTube video she selected her students could SEE but not HEAR.

Later that day, she found a bunch of links with worksheets she wanted me to print. But almost every link wanted her password; too onerous. I tried to print from her computer on the old printer I lugged into her office. The computer said it was compatible with the printer. Yet no paper products were expelled.

In the end, I copied the files from her computer to her thumb drive. Then I copied them from her thumb drive to an email “she” wrote to “me.” Then I printed the documents. My friend O. says that this chewing gum and duct tape method of doing things is how things work in her house.

Later, my wife talked to a tech support guy at work. He said that getting a YouTube video to show on these platforms is tricky because they weren’t designed for that secondary viewing.

I’ll pick that up

Because she’s doing her teaching at home, we’re getting a lot more phone calls. Most of them are from her classes or the parents of her younger students. When I first answered, the kids were stunned into silence, and would just hang up. But now that I recognize some of their phone numbers and they recognize my voice, it’s much easier.

At the beginning of March, if the landline rang, and I did not know who it was, I’d let it go to the answering machine. But it’s often school employees who have those unidentified numbers, and I’ve ended just picking up the phone. Rarely is it a spammy call, fortunately.

My wife: suddenly working from home

untenable

working from homeMy wife is a teacher of English as a New Language. The word came down on Friday, March 13 that schools in New York State would not meet the following week. But a previously scheduled teacher conference would take place the following Monday. Then they spent Tuesday making packets for the students.

Thus it wasn’t until that Wednesday that she actually began working from home. Any thoughts that she would have a lesser workload were quickly dashed. Between the online meetings and the one-on-one phone calls to her students, she was giving even more effort than she was in person.

Initially, her “office” was at the end of our dining room table. That was only because that’s where a laptop happened to reside. Soon, however, this became untenable, at least to me. The dining room is connected to both the kitchen and the living room. So, pretty much every time I’d come downstairs, I felt as though I were invading her space. If I wanted to wash the dishes or get something to eat, I was in her “office.” Ditto, vacuuming the living room or watching television.

A new venue

I suggested that she set up a station in the spare bedroom, which she did. In my mind, she too immediately saw the wisdom of the move. Later, I was surprised to discover that it was only after a week or so in the new enclosed space she recognized the value of it for all of us.

Among other considerations, she was always complaining about the messiness of the house, which certainly included the dining room table/her workstation. Now she can leave her papers as needed. She could have private conversations without my daughter and me avoiding the entire first floor.

And she now appreciates looking out on the backyard, seeing the trees and grass. The view from the office, where I tend to blog from, is to the street. I can see a few branches among the utility lines.

I mention this for two reasons. One was that a friend of mine was telling me about a prominent local couple who are really getting on each other’s nerves. They have a house large enough to have their own working from home spaces. Yet they have not, to the detriment of their relationship.

The other is that today is the 21st anniversary of our wedding. A little bit of territorial boundary-setting is a good thing in a marriage, especially during a pandemic.