June rambling: a blow to the head

Sign by LP Green, 2021

How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.

Future-proofing the presidency. How to thwart the next American tyrant.

Trump’s Next Coup.

Chicago’s predictive policing program told a man he would be involved with a shooting.

Far-Right Gang Killed Cop In Plot To Blame 2020 Protest Violence On ‘Leftists’.

Hatred lives in a Nashville millinery shop.

NEJM: Dilemmas of Double Consciousness — On Being Black in Medicine.

John Oliver: Asian Americans.

The Mogul and the Monster. Jeffrey Epstein’s longstanding business ties with his most prominent client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie Wexner. hold the key.

What happens if the U.S. can’t reach herd immunity.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott


Even though most establishments no longer require mask wearing for the fully vaccinated – and I am – I’ve opted to wear a mask indoors for the nonce. This is in support of the store workers, most of whom are still required to mask up.

Signs Of a Toxic Work Culture—And How To Correct Them.

 Remote Workers Could Quit When Asked to Return to the Office.

Best Websites to Help Kids Learn From Home in 2021.

Amy Biancolli: lessons from a blow to the head.

 7 VA Loan Tips for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Spouses.

 Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a ‘miracle’ village.

How to Be Sustainable in College: 18 Green Tips for Students.

Eric Carle didn’t want his hungry caterpillar to get a stomach ache.

When I heard that F. Lee Bailey, the “high-flying defense attorney” had died, the first person I told was Paul Rapp. Seriously.

Larry Gelman, R.I.P.

Jack Parker White (1931-2021). He was the husband of my wife’s cousin Diane, who I’d see almost every year at the Olin family reunion near Binghamton. He, my late FIL Richard, and I would test each other over baseball statistics.

Speaking of baseball, Ken Levine on how he’d fix MLB. I agree with most of these, especially getting rid of the abomination of “the stupid extra-inning rule where a runner starts at second base.” But the shift, and fouling off ideas I wouldn’t change.

How ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ Saved Disney.

 Sister Cindy Is a TikTok Star. “Some of those who turn out to see her [said] they question whether her internet celebrity status is deserved.” Is “internet celebrity status” deserved?

Johnny Carson as Reagan, a “Who’s On First” spoof.

15 Clichés To Avoid With a Ten-Foot Pole.

Now I Know: The Buses That Make a Bee Line and The Tribe With the DIY Spies and Evolution, Eyebrows, and the Pets We Love and The Kids Are All Right and Why The NYC Police Darkened Their Blues and Refrigerators that Ribbit?


Nite Ride and Sunrise by Jean Sibelius.

You Really Got Me – MonaLisa Twins.

The Last of England by Nikolas Labrinakos.

In Her Family – Peter Sprague,  featuring Rebecca Jade.

Black Dog –  Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Coverville 1359: The Bob Dylan Cover Story VIII and 1360: Cover Stories for Psychedelic Furs, Keane and the Four Tops.

Tiny Dancer – Elton John.

Lydster: Missed the laundromat

The Roches

laundromatMy daughter had the opportunity to use the laundromat, but alas! She missed it.

In late April, our clothes dryer died. This was not a particularly surprising occurrence, given the clunking racket it had been making for several months. Still, it was annoying, particularly for my daughter. She was straightening her room. So she had… a few loads to do. It was also a bother for me, as a jagged piece of metal on the machine – where did THAT come from? – punctured my thumb. Grawlix.

This took place on a Saturday, and my wife was visiting her mother out of town. We couldn’t even order a machine until she returned home on Monday. And the new machine would not be delivered until eight days after that.

My wife washed clothes that week and took them to the laundromat. Did my daughter want to do the same? NO! The idea of schlepping wet clothes to someplace else was weird to her.

Too bad. There is an art to cleaning one’s clothes in the public arena. Getting the quarters. Finding the empty machines. It’s a ritual of being on one’s own.

My sisters reminded me that the washer, and probably the dryer were in our kitchen. I have only vague recollections of this.

“Her cycle is through”

But I have vivid memories of gathering the dirty clothes and taking them to the various laundry establishments. Each has its own idiosyncrasies in terms of cost, size, lighting, cleanliness, and availability of machines.

Especially the latter. When you need a washer, the machines are all full, but the wash is done, how long do you wait until you pull out someone else’s stuff, place it in one of those baskets or on a counter, and put your own clothes in?

These are the negotiations of life that can be very useful in other venues. I would have introduced my daughter to the song The Death of Suzzy Roche by the sister singing group the Roches, who I saw perform back in the 1980s.

A rule to live by: “Everybody in the laundromat is equal.” It’ll be something my daughter will probably learn eventually.


Lydster: COVID vaccine procurement

Albany Public Library and Mohawk Ambulance

COVID vaccineRecently in this blog, I noted the vagaries of COVID vaccine procurement. I had my first shot scheduled for March 31 at the UAlbany campus, when unexpectedly, I got an appointment at CVS on March 3.

Likewise, I had nailed down for my daughter her first shot for April 17 at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany. Then on March 26, my wife received a text that there would be a pop-up vaccination site the very next day. She’d gotten a text from the Albany Housing Authority a month earlier that she should sign up, though she doesn’t recall how that occurred.

As she was heading for a meeting, she gave me the URL, but it didn’t work. Slightly panicky that the window of opportunity would close, I called the site, the Arbor Hill/West Hill library branch, and spoke to a librarian who I know. He knew the event was taking place but none of the details; I’m sure, as a librarian, that had to bug him. It would have frustrated me.

When my wife was free, she got a second website that DID work, and I got my daughter an appointment. And just in time, because the six-hour window (9-3) was down to about an hour.

The process

Since my wife was going to Oneonta to pick up her mother and take her to Cooperstown for her second injection, my daughter and I needed to take public transportation. We took the #106 CDTA bus, which was the #138 the last time I took it who knows how long ago. It dropped us off at Livingston and Henry Johnson, a couple of short blocks from the library.

One of the things my daughter does that I admire is giving extremely wide berth to those folks we walked past who were not wearing masks. My sense is that these people are on the uptick in Albany, commensurate with COVID cases inching up statewide.

The line was short, and we went through fairly quickly. The event was run by Mohawk Ambulance. Though the information from the website did not specify, I knew I had to go to the table with my daughter because she’s under 18. There were about 10 tables in all, each with someone to register, and another to give the injection.

My registrar was kind but technologically impaired. Fortunately, her teenage daughter was also there to assist her. I offered my daughter’s non-driver’s ID; as I expected, she was confounded. This was because the picture was of my daughter at about the age of six. While the ID is still valid, she hardly looks the same except to me. I was glad I asked my daughter to bring her high school ID. While not an official item, it was sufficient for the registrant.


Next, I handed the registrant the letter from my daughter’s doctor. It noted that she “has medical conditions that meet current criteria for vaccination under the Phased Distribution of the Vaccine set forth by the NYS Department as seen at” this website. I pre-emptively said, “Sufficiently vague, eh?” I could have noted the need for the doctor to respect the HIPAA requirements of his patient, but I thought of this later.

After the injection, we were supposed to wait for 10-15 minutes. Mayor Kathy Sheehan was there. She said her husband had gotten his injection at the site an hour earlier. We walked to the #12 bus, rode it, then walked home. Eighty minutes from leaving the house to walking back in the door, including public transportation. My sister’s friend in the San Diego area spent FIVE HOURS that same day.

My friend Catbird has a friend over 65 in Albany who, as of a couple of weeks ago, still couldn’t find a vaccine. I suggested that the friend sign up for everything. The county site, the state site, CVS, Walgreens, whatever, because the supply is definitely loosening up.


Lydster: advantage of having a child “later”

At least, I know who Robert was.

Lydia and Roger

I have this friend Fred, whose parents were about 40 when he was born. In an apparent act of hubris, I didn’t have my child until I was a decade older than that.

I suppose the advantage of having a child “later” in life is that I suppose I am more patient. Hey, I’m not saying totally cool, but better than if I’d been younger.

One cool thing is that I get to hear music I might not have heard. Some of it I even like.

I get her perspective on the issues of the day. She’s been watching the news since she was nine. Of course, she now consumes in a manner that I generally don’t, on the phone. She is savvy enough to ask what of it is real and what is bogus.

Issues such as Black Lives Matter, and race generally, are of great interest to her. She’s passionate about helping others, participating in a monthly food drive. Saving the earth is very important, and she can cite statistics about how much more environmentally damaging meat is. She’s almost entirely a vegetarian.

We often have similar sensibilities. She and I enjoy bananas far less ripe than my wife does. Our sense of time is about the same. I’m the one she’ll usually tell certain stories about school experiences.


On the other hand, she knows there’s a lot of current mundane pop culture stuff that my brain simply refuses to absorb. So she’ll learn it and then test me on it.

Her current torture involves the Kardashians. Who are they, what are their kids’ names, etc.? For instance, she has told me, that the father of Khloe Kardashian’s baby True is Tristan Thompson. Then 15 minutes later, I won’t remember which Kardashian is a parent to which child. I don’t care, she knows I don’t care, and she has great fun with it.

It’s a joy to be her dad.  But don’t tell her I said so.

Lydster: Zoom school sucks!

The ever-educational They Might Be Giants

zoom schoolAs I must have mentioned, my daughter was all primed to go to school in person as late as August 24, 2020. Instead, she got Zoom school this fall, after suffering through it from mid-March 2020 and on. It’s not actually on Zoom, but whatever. And that’s not what they label it.

They call it “remote learning.” Remote: “having very little connection with or relationship to”; that’s about right. On the last Sunday of January, I had five Zoom meetings. Well, almost. The church was on Facebook and one of the meetings was on a Zoom-like platform called Wonder.

Except for church, though, it was people looking at other people located in little rectangles on my computer. Worse, some people STILL haven’t mastered the mute button.

So I feel my daughter’s pain. She has four or five of those every weekday. Some folks, in trying to encourage her… well, didn’t. I’ve occasionally sat in on some of those courses. Despite the best effort of some of her teachers – some of them are preternaturally cheerful! – it was still stultifying after a couple of classes.

Since my wife has also taught remotely off and on, including two weeks in January 2021, I know it is harder emotionally, technologically, and organizationally, especially when she switched back and forth. The one thing she liked about remote learning was the extra 30 minutes of sleep.

The homework helper

It was less true at the beginning of the school year but more true now. I am the homework helper. My assistance with statistics, which I took twice, in college and grad school, is spotty at best. Whereas I’m better with American history because I actually remember the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the 1857 Dred Scott case. (No, I’m NOT that old.)

Still, I occasionally learn things I either forgot or never knew. For instance, everything you need to know about the 11th President appears in James K. Polk by They Might Be Giants. Possibly the most successful one-term chief executive.

Sometimes, I just sit with her to help her keep on task, such as when she works on her Environmental Science. She almost never even asks for my help in her art classes since she knows that it’s not in my wheelhouse.

Too political

For one course, she was supposed to find and describe a poster that addresses social justice. The caveat is that the work is not to be political. If by political, they mean “vote for Bernie” or “X sucks”, then OK.

But it seems that social justice, by its very nature, is at least small-p political. Labor rights, hunger, fighting racism/sexism/homophobia, et al. These all often require political action, allocation of resources. Sure you can buy a meal for someone, but addressing systemic food deserts require a broader action. Or  José Andrés,, at least.