Lydster: an art debut at church

Honor Society

Jesus

My daughter had her art debut at our church on November 7. Actually, it was just outside the building, where we meet for coffee hour, weather permitting.

The church had acquired the piece of art, shown above. I was a tad confused when one of our pastors mentioned ME in the morning announcements. Oh, she saw the piece on my blog or my Facebook feed, which features my blog.

The pastor was so taken by it that my daughter was asked to make another one for the church. But the process was tedious, ripping up pieces of magazine pages – mostly Vanity Fair – and sorting the colors. She was disinclined to do it again. But she would consider parting with the original.

After it sat in our living room for well over a year, in no small part due to COVID, it finally got to church. After the unveiling, my daughter briefly talked about the meaning behind the work. She was trying to come up with a more representational Jesus while at the same time maintaining the beatific tradition. I annoyed her only slightly as I chatted with the church members about her fastidious process.

I’ve noted that my wife doesn’t often go to church in person these days. But both she and her mother, who’s moved to Albany in the past few months, attended.

One thing I had not noticed all the time the piece resided in our house. There are hymns, from a discarded hymnal in the background, but there are no titles or page numbers.

Also in November

There was an in-person ceremony for the new inductees for my daughter’s high school branch of the National Honor Society. The day before the event, she and her mother went shopping for a suitable dress. She and her friend since first grade, Kay, both were handing out the programs. When the school district newsletter came out a day or two later, both Kay and my daughter were featured.

Lydster: proper COVID protocol

flow chart

My daughter was feeling under the weather on a Wednesday, so she stayed home from school. Primarily, she had an upset stomach, though she was also experiencing those seasonal allergy symptoms that I too experienced.

Then she felt better and went back to school on Thursday. My wife, who is a teacher in another district said that her return was not the proper COVID protocol.

I groaned even as I looked at my district’s policy. “Feeling sick or unwell in any way: Fever, fatigue/tiredness, muscle/body aches or pains, congestion, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea, headache, loss of taste or smell, rash.” I have a cough and a runny nose almost daily these days. And I suspect my daughter experiences much the same, though she’s a teenager so doesn’t always say.

And this, BTW, “Regardless of vaccination status.” She is fully vaccinated. “CANNOT go to school. Can return to school with a negative COVID-19 (PCR/NAAT) test or after a 10-day quarantine. According to the school nurse, they don’t want one of those rapid tests but one that takes a day to get the results. Is that accurate? IDK.

So she got a test on Thursday evening, and per the regulations, took Friday off, though she was feeling much better. Almost exactly 24 hours later, she received a negative result, which is positive news.

No perfect attendance

One of the parents on a listserv I monitor said, “The focus on attendance is so frustrating in general but especially because of this flow chart. Stay home if you have even the slightest symptoms, but get a prize if you come to school. Makes no sense.” Indeed, we just got a letter indicating the school is concerned that she’s been out so often.

Yes, the district is incentivizing school attendance through a series of contests. Frankly, I haven’t paid much attention since my daughter’s not going to win.

I will say that, in general, her spirits seem to be up by being in school in person. Well, except on the days she’s not.

Snail mail: college, Medicare

PAEA

snail mailOn Monday, October 18, our household received 23 pieces of snail mail. Good golly!  Usually, it’s about eight. When I opened the mailbox, items cascaded out.

Seven were for my daughter, almost all of them from colleges that wrote that they want her to apply to their college or university. Five were for my wife, catalogs and bills mostly. Two were jointly for my wife and me from organizations we belong to.

Almost all of the nine for me were from insurance companies. The period from October 15 to December 7 constitutes when I can change coverage for my Medicare supplement, including prescription coverage, dental, and eye care.

My Rx coverage is scheduled to go up about 74%, so I would like to find a company that will cost the same or less while providing similar coverage. There IS a process for this, but it involves entering the names of all of my physicians and pharmaceuticals. Tedious but necessary.

One of the pieces of mail is from an organization that I ostensibly agree with philosophically. But I don’t give them money because they mail the solicitation to Roger C. Green. Actually, I get quite a few of them each month, and I haven’t given any of them a dime. Get my name from some mailing list company, then you hope the information is correct.

He brings me no joy

Of course, thinking about the mail makes me think of the dreadful and corrupt Louis DeJoy. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why Biden hasn’t just fired him as Postmaster General. It’s not that simple.

“DeJoy still runs the Postal Service because he maintains the backing of its board of governors. This bipartisan, nine-member body oversees the service’s expenditures and operations and appoints postmasters general — and decides how long their tenures last. Six of the governors, including the board’s chairman, Ron Bloom, are Trump appointees; Biden has appointed three.

“Unless Biden wants to try removing governors for cause, he can replace them only when their seven-year terms end or they step aside prematurely. Those rules are meant to protect the Postal Service from partisan meddling and generally make it hard for presidents to reshape it without waging political battles.

The plan

DeJoy’s announcement is to make the service slower and more costly in the near term.

There is a positive aspect of the plan, though. “The Postal Service is requesting that Congress pass legislation that enables us to fully integrate Postal Service retiree health plans with Medicare and eliminate the retiree health benefit pre-funding obligations imposed by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.” The PAEA HAS been an onerous burden on the USPS and reflects much of the losses for the entity in the past 15 years. This should be passed by Congress.

A matter of good timing

The bike and the bus

On October 12, things worked out for me splendidly. It was a matter of good timing.

I had four or five suits or at least the jackets when I retired from work in June 2019. My wife, I know, was evaluating whether I needed all of them since I scarcely wore them all, maybe thrice a year.

Early in October, I went into the closet to discover I had only two jackets. One was a little small. the other, unfortunately, had moth holes. And I needed something to wear to the  Literary Legends gala.

This might have meant going to a store to buy a new suit, but by then, it was the Tuesday before the Saturday event. Tuesdays in October meant Bible Guys at 9 a.m. and then introducing the speaker for the FFAPL Book Talk from noon until 1:30.

By the time I ate lunch, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, and took a shower, it was close to 3 pm. I wanted to get home before my daughter did, around 4:45 after a yearbook meeting.

The journey begins

3:17 Leave the house, go to the shed, get the bike, ride it to the CVS 3 blocks away. Pick up a package from Amazon that was delivered there. It’s curious that another box from Amazon, with much the same item, was delivered to my house on the same day.

Rode my bike back one block to West Lawrence and Western to be in a position to catch either the #114 going down Madison Avenue or the #10, heading down Western. As it turned out, both arrived on time, at 3:35 and I took the latter to Lark St, rode the bike to the tuxedo place a couple of blocks away.

Got measured for the suit, which I would pick up on Friday via bus. Ride the bike three blocks to Washington and Henry Johnson, where I just catch the #10 bus that got me to a block from my house.

I park my bike in the shed and I was in the house at 4:21, in plenty of time to beat my daughter home. Except for the fact that she came home early, c. 4 because she wasn’t feeling well. But it was the effort that counted.

Couch Guy: why people are watching

shame as a tool

couch guyAs is often the case, my daughter says to me something that just doesn’t register. A few days ago, she asked “Have you heard about Couch Guy?” It is her apparent obligation to keep me up to date on cultural trends. I had no idea what/who she was talking about.

If you go on Yahoo, you can type in Couch Guy Tiktok and find the video; it’s less than a minute. It is ostensibly about a young woman surprising her long-distance boyfriend. What it became is what NBC News suggested how internet sleuthing can be toxic.

“The video, posted Sept. 21 by Lauren Zarras, shows her boyfriend, Robbie…surrounded by friends and sitting on a couch next to three other women.

“Many of the people who have commented on the video.. suggested that Robbie was, in fact, not happy to see Zarras. Some went so far as to accuse him of being unfaithful to her. Not long after it went viral, TikTokers began meticulously combing through the video…”

My first position was to be the grumpy old man and think, “Why should anyone care about this?” But as someone who recognizes that how people communicate matters, I found myself utterly fascinated. Not by Robbie, the couch guy, for whom I feel bad that people find the need to so scrutinize ten seconds of his life.

Now some folks – I found several examples that won’t bother linking to – who ‘analyzed” the video out the sense that it was hot copy, even though they thought it was a lame narrative.

However, this phenomenon – I have to say obsession – provides some odd validation for these online sleuths. Indeed, for those who have rooted out racism and violence, e.g., that is an accomplishment.

Conversely

The NBC piece discussed Morgan Forte, 23, who has “experienced what happens when it feels as though the internet has collectively decided to pick apart your life based on a seconds-long clip.

“Forte, of Jacksonville, Florida, said she posted a short video of her parents dancing a few years ago. Some claimed that Forte’s mother was acting grumpy in the clip.

“When the video blew up, getting about 15 million views across accounts that had shared it, some commenters began saying Forte’s father should leave her mother because of her demeanor in the video.” As they say, OMG.

Experienced

Producer and activist Monica Lewinsky – yes, that Monica Lewinsky – is an anti-bullying advocate. She has produced a movie called 15 Minutes of Shame which she discussed recently on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

As Rolling Stone quoted her, “’One of the factors in the film is around the idea of how shame has been used since the beginning of time as a social tool.’ With the onset of the internet and tabloid culture — the problem worsened.”

John Della Volpe reported on new polling:

1) Nearly 2/3 of Americans who use platforms believe life was better without them.
2) 42% of #GenZ addicted, can’t stop if they tried.

It’s useless to rant, “You kids, don’t you have better things to do?” For many of them, the answer is no.