Soft Spoken, But Not

Art show

Soft Spoken But Not
Soft Spoken, But Not c LPG

Here is a piece of art called Soft Spoken, But Not. It was created by my daughter, who weaved it. She showed me the process but I can’t really explain it to you.

The angle of the photo may not give you a good vantage point, but the object is a megaphone. In fact, it is a replica of one she owns. (What? You don’t own your own megaphone?) Oh, here’s another shot, by the artist.

She bought it in the summer of 2020 when she and some of her friends organized and participated in demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Ultimately, it became about other unarmed black people who died violently at the hands of authorities.

The rallies were about a block from our house, so occasionally her mother or I would participate, but it was mostly much younger people. What was fascinating is the response of passersby. Not only were they overwhelmingly positive, but they brought items. Ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts. Quite a bit of water, including a case from Sam, the son of a late friend of mine. And one woman, a stranger, brought my daughter another megaphone.

Display

From the Albany School District site: “Five pieces, created by four Albany High School student-artists, were chosen for display in the Art in Three Dimensions 2022 show.

“The juried exhibition, organized by the Capital Area Art Supervisors, runs Feb. 1-28 at the W.B. Haessig Art Gallery at Mohonason High School in Rotterdam.” This was cool.

In other daughter news

My daughter has been applying to college, eight of them, I believe. This involves, among other things, completing the convoluted FAFSA application for financial aid. She was accepted into four colleges and hasn’t heard from the others yet. As the above piece might suggest, she would like to combine art with some social justice and/or environmental angle. I will be extremely happy when this process is over.

Lydster: the COVID-19 home test

shot #3

home testShortly before the return to school in early January, we received an email informing us telling about the availability of a COVID-19 home test. Parents were to pick it up at a specific school district location on that Sunday, either by car or by standing in line. Since it was rather cold outside and I was at church in person, my wife drove over.

Though she got there in the car before the designated time of noon, she spent about an hour in the line. From a Facebook list that I’m on, this was the experience of many people.

I started reading the instructions in the package. “Ensure you have an Internet connection and download the App prior to starting the test.” The app is something called On/Go.

“Ensure you have a compatible smartphone. (iOS 13 or newer for Apple iPhone and Android10 or newer for Android phone.)” Do I have iOS 13 on my iPhone 8 Plus? Apparently, I have 15.1. This exercise reminds me that Internet access and a smartphone are not luxuries but necessities in American life.

Studying for the test

The next morning my daughter and I start the process. I wash my hands, unpack the components, and place the test cassette “on a flat, clean surface. My daughter opened the extraction vial, I unwrapped the nasal swab. She decided she would swab her nostrils herself. I put it in the extraction vial, removed the swab, capped it, mixed it, then put drops in the test cassette. Ten minutes later, the test came back negative.

Meanwhile, I tried to scan the QR code on the box. But there is a white stripe that made the reading of the code impossible to scan. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. But I had to go through all of the instructions on the video, including the 10-minute wait before I could take a picture of my daughter’s negative results. It SAYS it’s a 10-minute test, but the whole procedure took closer to a half-hour.

Oh, and there was no imperative to actually go to the site to pick up the package since they would be distributed in the schools on that Tuesday. Incidentally, there are two tests per box, suggesting this testing may be replicated.

Booster

Meanwhile, I wanted my daughter to be able to get a booster. She had gotten her second shot in April. Just before the US Thanksgiving, I had gone to the county health website, filled out the form. The system said she was not eligible yet, which I thought was incorrect. I figured she’d have to wait until March.

Still, I tried the CVS page in early January, and I was able to make an appointment. She is now thrice vaxxed. Given the numbers in the schools, worse than the community at large (and those were huge at the time), this makes me quite happy.

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.

New routine: they’re home at work

You are what you are, and you ain’t what you ain’t – Dear Abby, John Prine

Stormy
I’m told I can’t use cat pictures on my blog. The only exception is if it’s MY cat. Here’s Stormy, seeking sustenance.
My household has established a new routine on most weekdays. There are variations but often it looks like this: The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. THE ALARM GOES OFF – ugh. At least it’s a half-hour later than it USED to go off when my wife traveled to work.

While my wife takes a shower, I check my email. I’m looking for articles to send to Jeff for his regular newsletter about COVID-19.

My wife watches CBS This Morning; increasingly, I don’t. I can’t do all COVID, all the time. But I do catch a bit when feeding the cats around 7:30 because they think it’s their right to be fed. My wife and I eat breakfast.

She goes to work in the guest bedroom. Her workload as a teacher of English as a New Language is so much greater than it was when she could actually meet with students in person. One day, she had a noon teleconference, then a 40-minute phone conversation with a parent of a student, 20 minutes to wolf down lunch, then a 2 pm teleconference. Another day, she spent about 100 minutes on the phone with two brothers.

I start writing a blog post but take a break to wake my daughter, who almost certainly has stayed up too late. Time for her to go to school too, which turns out to be on the borrowed laptop in her bedroom. Classes at 9 and 10:30, an hour for lunch, classes at 12:30 and 2. Sometimes I help her with her homework in the evening.

Old school

Time to call two people on the telephone. This has been an amazingly great exercise. Sometimes, I call people I haven’t seen in a few months, while others I haven’t been in contact with for years. (Hi, Janet!) They average about 45 minutes; some last 10 minutes, but I spoke with Bill, a grade-school friend, for about two hours. I never leave a message on answering machines because I don’t want to obligate people to have to call me back. But some see my phone ID and check back anyway.

I’ve discovered surprising simpatico with a guy whose wife also asks followup questions when he’s only reading her a news headline. A cousin of my father told me a family secret last week she had assumed I already knew. My pastors are now mailing the sermons to one of my fellow church members without a computer.

Some point, I’ll take a walk or ride my bike, take a shower, eat lunch, empty and reload the dishwasher plus washing some pots and pans, read the paper, finish the blog post, and watch the previous day’s JEOPARDY! After dinner is the daily Google hangout call of my wife’s family, ostensibly 15 minutes, but generally close to an hour. I’ll miss it because I’ll be attending church remotely on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Here now the news

Watch the evening news, which is recorded, so I can zap past all those pharma medicine ads. I either help my wife and daughter, or at least stay out of their way. I’m happy to be retired.

I should note that working on the COVID newsletter has been great. I don’t have to obsess about the issue. Oh, I still think he’s doing a bad job. I was furious that Wisconsin voters had to go out and vote in the midst of a pandemic, risking the health of themselves and others.

And I was strangely mortified that an SBA program to help small business was so poorly introduced. A CBS story showed personal information showing up on the SCREENS of the next applicant in the queue. The SBDC, where I worked for nearly 27 years, is an SBA program.

And I’m terribly sad about the death of John Prine, who was not only one of America’s greatest songwriters but apparently a really nice guy. He beat cancer TWICE only to succumb to complications from COVID-19.

Hello In There – Bette Midler
Dear Abby – John Prine
Angel From Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt& John Prine

Lydster: high school lockdown

In the lingo, “hold in place” means one stays where they are, and do not change classes. Activity within classroom can go on, however.

I had missed the first message. So when she wrote that she was frightened, I thought it might be in response to some video she watched. Nope, her high school was in lockdown. She was seeking more information.

I got on a Facebook list for the parents of Albany school children. I also reached out to a news anchor I know, all of us sharing what little we knew.

As it turned out, a kid came to school with a BB gun, looking to retaliate against somebody about something. The student did not come in through the standard security entries. A person let the student in through a side door. The school notes: “While our investigation indicates there was no malicious intent in allowing the student entry to the building, this was a serious breach of our security protocols.”

What made both my daughter and at least one other child in the school nervous was the lack of seriousness her classmates took the event. Many of the students were very loud throughout the lockdown. Also, often the classroom window on the doors were not covered so anyone could look in and see all the students. Both of these issues made them feel vulnerable to an attack.

Of course, when their kids are anxious, parents can’t help but feel the same, along with a dollop of helplessness. Because they have no idea what’s happening, another child believed someone was going to hear them and rush in firing.

Technically, the lockdown lasted 33 minutes, followed by 27 minutes of “hold in place”, which, in the lingo, means people stay where they are, and do not change classes. Activity within classroom can go on, however.

This took place on the same day a 14-year-old planned to commit violence at an Indiana middle school. The police were tipped off and the boy, after firing at some cops, ended up killing himself.

Also that week bomb threats were emailed to multiple locations across the country, including schools, trying to extort the targets unless they paid a Bitcoin ransom.

The next day was the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, during which 20 first-graders and six educators were killed. Naturally, the school needed to evacuated after a bomb threat.

According to an April 2018 Pew survey, a majority of U.S. teens fear a shooting could happen at their school, and most parents share their concern.

It is a scary world, and parents are often powerless to credibly say, “It’ll be all right.”

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