Lydster: the grown-up stuff

American Community Survey

My daughter is experiencing the grown-up stuff.

About a week after returning to college, she received in the mail at home what I assumed was a jury summons. After texting her for permission – something I needed to do with my now-adult progeny – I discovered I was correct.

I called the number on the form and spoke to the very understanding representative on the other end, explaining my daughter was currently in another state. “No problem.” They’ll contact her again in mid-May.

She was chagrined; she was looking forward to working that summer. (That $40 per day is not very robust.) Of course, she may not be called beyond one day. Incidentally, I haven’t been called for jury duty since 2014, when I wasn’t chosen.


Then, in early October, she got a notification that she was supposed to contact the campus about a letter she got from the US Census. She wondered if it was legit. I asked her if it was about the American Community Survey, and it was.

The ACS “helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.”

The ACS is the source of much of the more granular data the Census releases. Unless one is a Census nerd like I am, people don’t know about it because only a random sampling of people receives it each month.

The letter from the college was delivered to my daughter’s room, directing her to contact a person with Census. I verified that this person worked for the Bureau because that’s what fathers and librarians do.


When we visited our daughter at college in October, her mother and I marveled at the great organization she had implemented in her tiny room. Everything is in its place. At home, her bedroom is… a work in progress.

On her wall at college is this banner. She painted the flags on the cloth, representing her DNA from Ireland, Nigeria, England, Cameroon, Scotland, Benin, et al. The blue flag I did not recognize is a banner for the Bantu people.

Recent Supreme Court rulings

rogue court

I wanted to write about recent Supreme Court rulings, some of which I found both disturbing and frankly baffling.  Baffling because the justification for taking up at least some of the cases at all were specious. The words weren’t coming, so I have purloined others.
Arthur noted the case that “involved a fundamentalist ‘christian’ web designer who thought one day she might like to create wedding websites, but her religious views compelled her to refuse to create a website for a same-gender couple, in the event she ever started providing such services, of course, and if a theoretical same-gender couple ever tried to hire her services. While the supposed ‘injury’ to her was entirely hypothetical, she sued the State of Colorado, anyway—well, the ultra-far-right ‘Alliance Defending [sic] Freedom [lol]’ sued on her behalf.
Worse, “it emerged that, allegedly, someone named ‘Stewart’ had contacted her through her website’s contact form to try to hire her web services for his marriage to his ‘husband’. The problem was, the whole thing was faked by someone…. He also had no idea his name and details had been used in a Supreme Court case.” The guy, I’ve read, is mortified by this.
And lower courts had passed on the case, but the Supremes took it on. 
The ruling allows for violations of well-established public accommodation laws. Specifically, advocates in Massachusetts and elsewhere fear the effect of the  ruling. Will some business owners have the right not to serve customers based on personal or religious beliefs? 
See also the People for the American Way (PFAW) analysis.
Student loan forgiveness
This piece by the new Civil Rights Movement (NCRM) suggests that CJ John Roberts was intellectually dishonest in his opinion. In her dissent, Elana Kagan said as much. “From the first page to the last, today’s opinion departs from the demands of judicial restraint. At the behest of a party that has suffered no injury, the majority decides a contested public policy issue properly belonging to the politically accountable branches and the people they represent.”
Teresa M. Hanafin addresses some of the questions Boston Globe readers s have asked. “Many of those folks, relieved of that debt, would have helped give the already robust economy a boost: They’d have been able to buy houses, pay down other debt, start small businesses, rely less on other social service programs. It even helps with their mental health.
“Asking why today’s students should get debt relief when yesterday’s students didn’t is a question that could be asked about any social program. Do you think that elders nearing the end of their lives when Social Security was introduced in 1935 demanded that it be squashed because it hadn’t been enacted when they were 65? Should we stop giving food stamps to single mothers simply because most of us don’t need them? 
“I’m sorry, but that question is so typically American: If I can’t have it, then neither can you. Oddly, conservatives have that attitude only when it comes to poor and marginalized people; they’re fine with social welfare benefits such as tax cuts for wealthy households and corporations and subsidies for fossil fuel companies…”
See also this PFAW piece.
College Affirmative Action
From PFAW: “Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a powerful dissent, joined by Kagan and Jackson. As she has in the past, she pointed out that the far-right justices’ assumptions around race are not based on reality: “

[T]he Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter. 

From Common CauseCommon Cause: ‘With Let-Them-Eat-Cake Obliviousness,’ Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action for Colleges. “Sotomayor wrote that ‘the court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.'”
Some interesting responses have emerged. lawsuit Uses SCOTUS Affirmative Action Ruling to Go After Legacy Admissions. “’Harvard’s practice of giving a leg-up to the children of wealthy donors and alumni…must end,’ said one advocate.” 
Another fix: With End of Affirmative Action, a Push for a New Tool: Adversity Scores
The broader issue
The Weekly Sift covers these cases but also the broader context of a court bent on  overturning precedent, disrespecting lower courts, and ahistoric rules of interpretation.
Arthur: “The court’s far-right Republican majority is doing the one thing that Republicans have long pretended was an unpardonable sin: They’re legislating from the bench.” 
Vanity Fair also has taken the wider view: America Has a Supreme Court Problem. “Hillary Clinton tried warning us. Now, what do you do with a rogue Court?”  In other words, she told you so.
“A year ago, in their joint Dobbs dissent, justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and former justiceStephen Breyer wrote that the ruling ‘breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed to promote constancy in the law…. It places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the Court’s legitimacy.’” 
Did anyone REALLY believe the anti-abortion activists would leave the issue to the states? At least some Republican candidates are looking for a federal restriction. 
From NCRM:Well-known political expert, author, journalist, and CEO David Rothkopf is blasting conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court after their disastrous rulings…, warning the Court is now a ‘threat to democracy’ and suggesting some justices should be ‘considered’ for impeachment.”  Specifically, Justices Alito and Thomas. 
The “conservative” response
I’m always monitoring some of the rightwing media.  The Daily Signal wrote a piece called To Gain Power, the Left Seeks to Destroy the Supreme Court, which I shan’t link to. The piece bashes Pelosi, the Squad (AOC, et al.).
It seems, in a linked Tweet to suggest that there WASN’T a  “stolen Supreme Court seat.” Obama wasn’t allowed by the Senate to replace  Antonin Scalia (d. Feb 13, 2016) but djt could replace RBG (d. Sept 18, 2020).
Perhaps off-topic, or maybe not:  “Do you remember America?”

Lydster: Back to college

Power Dad

College AheadThis is a day or so in the life story of my daughter’s return back to college after Thanksgiving.

My wife and I bolted home after an unusually long church service, only to find that our daughter was not at home. It turned out that she had gone to Dunkin’ to see a friend. When she returned, my wife gave my daughter the treats she had purchased for her. We got started about 45 minutes after our 12:30 pm estimated time of departure.

The skies were overcast, but the roads were dry when we arrived at the second rest stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Blandford. They were right; it was a heavy-duty travel day, with more cars than parking spaces. I got a couple of sandwiches at McDonald’s; there was no other choice of restaurant. Despite the heavy flow of people, Mickey D’s staff was amazingly efficient with no terrible wait.

The wait came as we tried to get back on the highway. It was a parking lot. We went about three miles in the first 30 minutes. I don’t know if there was an accident; no road construction explained our lack of progress.

Then the rains came. Do you know how many people rag on the National Weather Service when their forecasts aren’t entirely accurate? This one was dead on. It was pouring when traffic recommenced and all the way back to the college.

I schlepped my daughter’s suitcase up a flight of stairs; no elevator. I don’t know why it was so heavy for a five-day weekend. Did she bring home her laundry? Fortunately, Power Dad… could… handle… it.

One more meal

She suggested that we pick her up for dinner. Well, we DO have to eat. So we went to a nearby hotel, checked in, unpacked, rested for about a half hour, and then went back to the college, picked up our daughter, and went to a local Panera.

When we dropped our daughter at college in September, we accidentally left my wife’s rewards card with our daughter. We told her she could use it, and she had. She has mastered the display terminal the restaurant wants customers to use rather than having a human take the order.

Finally, the final goodbyes at college. “I love you, ” I say. “I know,” she replies.

The next morning, my wife and I went down to breakfast. A guy was making a waffle and then pouring on various condiments. He said, “I’m making it for my teenager. It has to be just so.” And a few minutes later, as I saw his daughter’s sullen face buried in her phone, I laughed just a little. Not that my daughter is like that…

Lydster: off to college

Western Mass.

Our daughter is finally off to college. We dropped her off at a location in western Massachusetts with her supply of almost everything she needs in her home away from home.

She is far enough away that neither she nor we are likely to just “drop in.” But she’s close enough that we could reach her in a couple of hours if necessary.

One of her primary projects over the summer was to clean her room. How bad was it before? We have no idea because we don’t go in there. However, shortly after she graduated from high school, we could not help but notice how much fuller the garbage cans became. And she was doing more loads of laundry

Empty nest?

Lots of people ask us how we feel being potential empty nesters. I don’t know. In the past two years, she’s spent a lot of time in the cave she calls her room, so there would be hours when she was home, but we wouldn’t see her.

She had been out with her friends a LOT. I attribute a lot of this to COVID, or more specifically that she wasn’t SEEING very many people during the various lockdowns and is trying to make up for the lost time.

But I also don’t think I’ll feel like an empty nester because we were older parents. We had a lot of life before she was born. We’re both retired now, though I rush to explain that my wife retired young. But I could be wrong; it would not be the 101st time.

Now what?

NOW, my wife and I have no excuse for not doing the renovation, cleaning, and other projects we need to tackle. Well, except for fatigue. Did I mention I am retired?

Still, I WILL miss her not being around, even if it’s me Instant Messaging her from the living room to her bedroom, telling her it’s time for dinner.

n.b. This was SUPPOSED to be the August 26 post!

Lydster: finally at college

Uh huh

College AheadMy daughter is finally at college. As I noted, her experience this autumn was delayed by COVID, first hers, then mine, then my wife’s. The initial protocol for her to start college was for her to wait five days from her onset. But with her parents contracting the disease at her domicile, this meant waiting an additional five days.

So instead of arriving on August 25 for a week of orientation before classes began on August 31, we were instructed to arrive on September 5, Labor Day, three days after classes had started.

Yet we were promised a call back from the college closer to our departure date. It never happened. On the morning of the fifth, we headed toward campus. While my wife drove, I called every office on the college phone menu. One choice failed to transfer properly. The only one I reached was campus security, which was not helpful to the task at hand.

We arrived at her dormitory. My daughter and I found a couple of people in an office, and I told them our tale of woe. One of them listened attentively, then told us that it was their first day on the job. But they called someone who had access to my daughter’s room key. The three employees, my daughter, and I unloaded the car.

I neglected to mention that, as of Labor Day morning, my wife was STILL testing positive for COVID, even though my daughter and I had tested negative; first, my daughter, then me on September 2.

After unloading, we went out to eat. Then we returned, and the three of us made my daughter’s bed and moved around a couple of pieces of furniture in her tiny room.

At that point, the vibe was clear. “Thank you, parents. You can now leave.” And so we did.


The following weekend at church, no fewer than a dozen people, upon hearing that our daughter was finally at college, asked, “How is she doing?” My answer was always some variation of “How do I know.”

I messaged her that first week and told her that we were there to help her if she needed us but that we didn’t want to bug her. She wrote back: “Uh huh,” which I took to mean, “Noted.”

She did call me on the Thursday of the first week at 10 p.m. I knew she was calling me because my wife’s almost always in bed by that hour. She wanted a clarification of a book footnote, which I provided. This let me know she was actually reading an assignment, which was some comfort.

Then the following week, she called her mother. They spoke for nearly an hour. So it’s all good.

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