7 Quick Takes: First Days of School Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

First day of “school”. Daniel’s teacher and a paraprofessional stopped by yesterday to drop off a box of school supplies for him and to make sure I knew how to log into his Chromebook (which was provided by the school). The first day of Zoom class was today. I was unnerved about the possibility of Daniel having a meltdown because he isn’t a fan of Zoom, but he put up with AN HOUR. We still have kinks to work out as far as getting one-on-one to work, but it was impressive for the first day.

— 2 —

Be kind. I just want to remind people that it’s unnecessarily catty and rude to make comments about how teachers don’t want to teach in person because they’re lazy, you aren’t going to vote for the next mill levy because schools aren’t open this fall, and to spread misinformation about how it doesn’t affect kids (it does… BADLY) or that it has a 99% survival rate. Teachers and school districts are facing some really difficult choices, and a lot of my teacher friends are in tears over having to make the decision to protect themselves and their families by doing distance education.

Regarding the statement about the survival rate, there are 56.6 million school kids in the USA (source), and 1% of that is 566,000. That is a lot of dead kids. Even if you want to use Betsy DeVos’s misguided number of 99.99% of kids being OK, that’s still 5,600 kids dying. That is far too many.

— 3 —

Saturday chores. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this, but this week got away from me. Basically, I use Saturday as my day to reset for the week. I wash my sheets/remake my bed, sort pillboxes for Daniel and myself, put together my weekly spread in my bullet journal, and now it’s my weekly grocery shopping day. It makes for a really busy day, but it means that I get clean sheets at least once a week, I vaguely have an idea of my schedule for the week, and I don’t have to think too much in the morning when I’m medicating Daniel and myself. Sorting pillboxes on Saturday also means that I have some advance notice that I need to get certain medications refilled.

— 4 —

New phone. My phone has had black lines obscuring at least some portion of my screen since March, but I had been putting off getting it looked at because of quarantine. I just memorized whatever part of the keyboard or app that the black lines were covering and sucked it up. Well, the black lines all of a sudden jumped from covering 10-20% of my screen to 90% of my screen, so I had to go hang with the nice people at my carrier’s store. They couldn’t help me on Monday because I wasn’t an account manager on my cell phone account (because I’m on my parent’s account), so I had to go home, get added, and come back on Tuesday. The person who helped me on Tuesday ended up replacing my phone with a newer one (I went from a Samsung Galaxy 7 to a Samsung A51), and it is SO nice to actually be able to use my whole screen!

— 5 —

An amusing Facebook page. The Bangor Maine Police Department’s Facebook page was recommended to me as light reading. The reason? Officer Tim Cotton, who writes it, has a wicked sense of humor and manages to make the most mundane events sound amusing.

He also has a lovely send-off phrase: “Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.”

— 6 —

Flu shots. This season’s flu shot is now stocked by local pharmacies, so everyone in my household but Daniel got theirs last week. Because my body never likes to miss an opportunity to have a fibromyalgia flare, I got hit with a sore arm and THEN sore joints the next day. It was freaking lovely. Still, health officials are advising people to get their flu shots this year to lower the odds of getting hit with influenza and taking up hospital beds in the midst of a pandemic.

Also, the “stomach flu” is not a type of influenza–it’s a gastrointestinal virus. Influenza is a RESPIRATORY virus.

— 7 —

Ahem. Kelly, our hostess with the mostest, has her curriculum picks up. Go read them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

6 Quick Takes: Figuring Out School Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Argh. My wee bairn has a G-I appointment in Everett tomorrow at 8:30… which means we need to leave by 7:30 because of traffic, and that means that I need to be up at 6:15 to hook my wee bairn up for his morning feed. It’s not like I’m a massive insomniac or anything…

Oh yeah… pray REALLY hard that Daniel keeps his mask on and doesn’t touch every freaking surface before touching his face. *packs a 32 oz. bottle of Germ-X in my purse* (Why yes, I *DO* have some bottles that size. Being an alcohol gel nazi prepared me for this pandemic.)

— 2 —

School take #1. I’ve been having conversations with Daniel’s teachers for next year, and he’ll have Zoom groups a few times a day with other kids. My kid hates Zoom. Woooohoooooo!!!! He will have an hour a day of one-on-one time with one of the paraprofessionals, and she can thankfully break that up into chunks.

— 3 —

School take #2. Kids will only have direct learning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This means that Wednesday is for indirect learning… and also for me to have as my main workday as I won’t be having to supervise Daniel’s Zoom sessions that day. I’m thankful that I don’t have to set my tutoring schedule for the fall for a few weeks.

— 4 —

School take #3. I picked up Daniel’s Chromebook yesterday. All students are getting one checked out to them for the year as we have no idea how long we’ll be doing remote learning (a.k.a. school at home). For me, this means that I won’t have to have him do school on my laptop. I also just ordered a wireless mouse and headphones off of Amazon for him.

— 5 —

School take #4. Because this is me, I’m flipping out about my kid having a meltdown at having to sit and do stuff on Zoom… forgetting that he’s going to be in a class of kids with autism who also probably don’t want to be on Zoom either, so he won’t be the only kid yelling that he’s “ALL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!”

— 6 —

Update to last week. The CZU Lightning Complex fire is a mile from Upper Campus of my alma mater. My Girl Scout camp and church camp both have fire damage, and part of my Girl Scout camp was used/is being used for staging by CalFire. So far, the redwood trees at Big Basin State Park are OK, but all the infrastructure took damage. (My dad has commented that this means some of the poison oak is hopefully gone.)

Because of the pandemic, the camps didn’t have any kids there, so evacuation needs were minimal. This is, I think, the only good news about this dumpster fire of a year.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Wildfire Edition

7 Quick Takes

Yeah, my home state of California is currently on fire, and two of the fires (which were started by lightning strikes in a place that doesn’t usually have big thunderstorms) are affecting me personally.

The CZU Lightning Complex fire has destroyed and is threatening to destroy places I hold dear like my alma mater UC Santa Cruz, the two Girl Scout camps where I spent time growing up and worked as my first job, areas of redwood forest that hold my heart, and the houses of friends of mine who have had to be evacuated.

The SCU Lightning Complex fire is threatening areas surrounding my hometown of San Jose, and people I love are preparing to be evacuated.

The demented troll in the White House is threatening to make the state pay for the fires themselves because “they don’t listen to [him]“. Apparently, he has never been in a forest for more than a photo-op and doesn’t quite get that YOU DON’T CLEAN THE FOREST FLOOR LIKE YOU DO CONCRETE AND ASPHALT!!!!!

I’m more than a little displeased and upset tonight, so I’ll stop here and just ask y’all to pleasepleaseplease pray for all those affected by the fires. This is breaking my heart.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Weighing in On The Week Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

On Kamala Harris. When Joe Biden announced his vice-presidential pick was Kamala Harris, I was over the moon. She’s a northern California girl like me, she’s brilliant, and she is well-versed in the law. I had the pleasure of voting for her twice as Attorney General of California, and my last act before moving to Washington was to vote for her in the California Primary election in 2016.

I’ve been getting the “who should Biden pick as VP” emails from various focus groups for months, and I can’t say I’m sad that those emails have stopped… though now I’m getting emails from groups on what the Democratic platform should be. It’s probably a good thing that I use a specific email for all my political stuff so I can delete it all when I don’t have the spoons to deal with it.

— 2 —

This is inexcusable. According to the Seattle Times, Trump says he’s blocking postal funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting. Seriously, that’s petty as heck! NPR just updated their story on it to say that Trump is opposing it but will sign a bill including it. Still, it creates the impression that he’s trying to prevent people from being able to vote. The postal situation would also affect a few states like mine where the entire state votes by mail.

The irony here is that Trump and his entire family as well as others in his administration vote by mail regularly.

— 3 —

The payroll tax holiday. I’m not gonna lie… the executive order signed by Donald Trump on Saturday put my stomach in knots to the point that I could barely eat. The reason? I know payroll taxes. It creates a really difficult situation for businesses because those payroll taxes are just deferred until next year, and it is highly doubtful that Congress (the ones who ACTUALLY make the decision on this stuff) will forgive the amount owed.

I have a while until it starts affecting me as the quarter ends this month and Fall Quarter doesn’t start until the middle to end of September, but I’ll have to see if the college is actually going to take the amount out of my check and just hold onto it. If not, I’ll have to calculate out 7.65% of my paycheck and put it aside so that I don’t suddenly have to come up with the money next year.

— 4 —

New doctor. My PCP left in June (and I didn’t find out about it until July), so I had to find a new doctor. My parents like their PCP, so I made an appointment and was finally able to get in with her yesterday. I do like her and she seems amenable to things like me staying on omeprazole despite insurance refusing to cover it after a certain point. (It’s an OTC medication, so I just wanted her permission to stay on it. I’m fine with paying for it as it’s cheap through Costco.) She ordered a ton of labs, and I was really happy to see that my iron is actually in the higher levels of normal for women. (Yay hysterectomy!)

— 5 —

Mask take. I thought this was cute.

Masks are comfortable

— 6 —

School update. I got in touch with Daniel’s teacher this week. She hasn’t had the necessary meetings to tell me a whole lot about what will happen, but she was glad I got communication going. School officially starts the first week of September, so I’ll be getting Daniel used to doing stuff on the iPad with me this week so that things aren’t a complete shock in September.

— 7 —

Some music.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Washington State Primary Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Gubernatorial race. The good news is that Governor Inslee had triple the votes of the other 30+ people running. Even better news is State Parasite and chair thief Tim Eyman doing poorly. (A friend of mine in state government told me that he is a succubus, not a parasite. I still stand by my designation.)

The bad news is that Governor Inslee’s challenger Loren Culp is an absolutely incompetent police chief from a tiny town in eastern Washington who is running on a spite platform not enforcing any of Inslee’s policies… and also being sued for intimidating and threatening a teenage sexual abuse victim while refusing to investigate her abuse by her step-father. The reason this is bad news? There are idiots in this state who will vote for a can of Goya black beans if the Washington State Republicans named it as their candidate out of sheer cussedness because the Democratic western half of the state has all the population and thus controls the government. Governor Inslee has mandated masks and put a stop to reopening statewide due to our COVID spike, and there are people who are cranky about this… most of whom also live in counties where the COVID case rate is now higher than Seattle’s. There were better people in the race to have voted for instead of Culp.

To demonstrate why I think Culp is an idiot: he held a COVID party an “Insubordinate Victory” rally on a meadow in Leavenworth for over a thousand people with no masks or social distancing… IN A COUNTY EXPERIENCING A HUGE COVID SPIKE!!!!! (Chelan County, home of Leavenworth, has 50,000 fewer people than Skagit County where I live, and their case numbers are 1.5 times ours.) I would be willing to put money on a chunk of COVID cases being reported as a result of that event (if attendees tell contact tracers the truth).

— 2 —

Lieutenant governor race. This is the one good piece of news–the top two candidates in the lieutenant governor race are both Democrats, so we’re covered if something happens to whoever wins the gubernatorial race in November. They’re decent enough people that my county’s Democratic party was chill with us picking between the two of them.

— 3 —

Voting by mail. Washington is a vote-by-mail state, and our primary was fine… BECAUSE VOTING BY MAIL WORKS. Our very Republican secretary of state Kim Wyman (who I actually like) has written op-ed’s on the subject this year and has even explained why undocumented immigrants voting is a fallacy, citing voting rates in Yakima County (huge number of farmworkers) as her example and pointing out that it would be ludicrous to register to vote if you’re trying not to be noticed by the government. (I also live in a county with a large number of migrant workers and can tell you with certainty that they’re not voting, partially because some of the people in county government are strongly anti-immigration and would not be in power if the migrant workers could vote.)

— 4 —

Mask take #1. I thought this image was good…

Don't be that person.

— 5 —

Mask take #2. I also thought this was good, and it has been shared by friends of mine who fall all over the political spectrum, so it isn’t just a “liberal” thing.

— 6 —

Why I support teachers right now. Friends of mine who are teachers are COVERING Facebook with posts right now on their back-to-school prep, which is normal for August… but my friends are all talking about the online apps they’re looking at to reach their students and making recommendations for their various subject areas. They’re taking all the lessons they learned from being thrown into remote education this spring and making changes based on what didn’t work well.

I have heard so much complaining online about how teachers are lazy because they don’t want to teach in person during the pandemic, and all these posts are showing the exact opposite. Teachers are readjusting their teaching styles and the way they used to teach to fit the current situation in order to keep their students and themselves safe.

— 7 —

Aid for Lebanon. If you want to help after the explosion in Beirut, here are some charities that are good:

Aid for Lebanon

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Back to School with COVID-19 Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

First thing: COVID-19 is real. It is very much still a pandemic, and it is spiking everywhere including my county where July has been the worst month on record. There are also, apparently, six “types” of COVID, which explains why some people have a milder case than others.

You can deny all of this as much as you want, but doing so involves ignoring science and sticking your head in the sand. You also come off looking like an utter fool.

Neil Degrasse Tyson on science.

— 2 —

Second thing: SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO ARE MAKING CATTY COMMENTS ABOUT TEACHERS BEING LAZY BECAUSE SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY CHOOSING TO START BACK WITH DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FALL!!! None of the teachers I know are happy that it’s what is having to be done, and all of them miss their kids fiercely. These are already people who are being asked to teach a variety of kids while not being given the resources to do it adequately in addition to being asked to act as human shields in the event of a school shooting. None of them are paid nearly enough to also be put at risk of dying a miserable death from a virus we are still figuring out how to control. (The “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means that is is “new” and that we still know too little about it to control it well.)

— 3 —

I have known since around Memorial Day that it was a very slim chance of Daniel returning to in-person education this fall because of my family’s COVID-19 risk factor. My parents are elderly, my mom is being hit with some health challenges at the moment, and both Daniel and I have some pretty scary underlying health issues that put us at severe risk of complications if we were to contract the virus. My parents and I discussed it at length and tried coming up with some contingency plans in the event that Daniel did return to school with other kids, and there was no good solution. I have prepped everything this summer in what I call the “Schroedinger’s cat model” which was that Daniel was either going to be there in person or he was not going to be there in person, but we were going to plan for both eventualities to exist.

— 4 —

The local school district is offering some in-person options for kids who need it for reasons, but it will be remote learning for almost everybody this fall. What will that look like for Daniel? Hard to say. I will be contacting his new teacher either tomorrow or next week to see if we can have an IEP meeting via Zoom to talk about this. In fact, I predict a lot of IEP Zoom meetings will be happening in the district over this next month as teachers try to figure out how to adapt each student’s IEP goals to the remote education model.

— 5 —

The college where I work just had an all-college meeting today, and I was invited to attend as a staff member. The gist of it is that almost everything will be online for the third quarter in a row. There will probably be some students wetting their pants because they skipped Spring Quarter in hopes that the world would be normal by fall.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha… NO.

— 6 —

What does this mean for me? Well, I’ll have to explain to one of my students who is Internet-phobic that they will not see my beautiful face in person for the foreseeable future… and they will not be happy. (If I’m lucky, they won’t drunk-dial me again for reassurance, and I won’t have to have my kinda-sorta new boss put the fear of Jesus in them. Not that this happened during Spring Break…) My current boss will possibly have more one-on-one hours to give me than I can legally accept, and I might get lent out to the entire campus again or (God willing) embedded with my favorite instructor to teach people how to love Accounting.

— 7 —

The only thing I can predict about this fall is that things will probably stay unpredictable. Woo.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Working My Political Nerves Edition

7 Quick Takes

Comments are turned off because I want to vent my spleen about political stupidity, I cited my sources (and used a variety of them that are known to be local and as neutral as I could get them in these partisan times), and I pay the hosting fees here so none of this is up for debate. 🙂 (Disagree with me? Go vent on a blog for which you pay the hosting fees.)

— 1 —

Trump administration trying to suppress COVID case numbers. The Trump Administration is ordering hospitals to bypass CDC in reporting COVID data. Why would any sane presidential administration order hospitals not to send their data to the agency whose job is to deal with disease control? I mean, the CDC has people who are trained to interpret this data, and who have done this beautifully for decades.

Unless… could he be trying to suppress the number of cases to make it look like he hasn’t completely failed in handling the pandemic? Yeah… sounds about right. Also, it’s scary that I have more science and medical training than most of the people on Trump’s Coronavirus Taskforce. (I was pre-med in college, and parenting Daniel has required as much training as it takes to be a CNA and medical assistant due to his special needs and a lot of the things involved in his hospital discharges. I know this because I’ve had to train nursing students a few times during Daniel’s inpatient stays.)

— 2 —

The collective good. I shared the below image on Facebook last week, and a friend (whose family is British) made an interesting point. She said, “they were British and believed in the collective good in a way that clearly Americans don’t, to our shame.”

London blackout

She has a point, and she managed to help me explain why I find the pissiness over having to wear a mask to be so self-centered. I (and so many other people) wear them because we’re trying to protect other people and we believe in doing things for the collective good, even if we have to sacrifice a little bit of comfort. It’s why I and many other Democrats find some Trump supporters to be so odious–the decisions they’re praising are showing that they are in it only for themselves and not for the rest of the country.

— 3 —

Ted Yoho’s verbal assault of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. If any of you think that this was OK or appropriate, please click the “x” on this tab and get off my blog. (For those who are wondering what happened, Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida accosted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she was going to vote, and told her she was “disgusting” before calling her a “f*cking b*tch”. Rep. Yoho claimed it didn’t happen that way… but PEOPLE WITNESSED IT HAPPENING THAT WAY.)

Seriously, I get that AOC infuriates people, but there is no excuse for Rep. Yoho’s behavior… especially as HE HAS DAUGHTERS HER AGE. I wonder how he’d react if someone did that to one of his daughters. Also, his apology was a non-apology (“I am sorry if you understood me to be saying…” is not an apology) and did not address the things he said, but rather the “abruptness of the conversation”.

/goes to look up Ted Yoho’s opponent so she can donate money to them

— 4 —

The civil rights abuses happening in Portland. From a friend of mine who lives there:

It’s absolutely terrifying, but our community has come together and it really feels like everybody here in Portland is trying to do their part to support the protests. We live downtown, just a few blocks from the Justice Center where everything is happening, so we see, hear and know about everything first hand. I know that there is a narrative being spread that the protestors here in Portland are nothing but violent anarchists, trashing the city and causing chaos, and that we deserve this… that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a complete and total lie, being spread by people who aren’t even here, and its horrifying. It’s the people of Portland who are down in the streets — moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, teachers, teenagers, and everything in between — everybody is getting involved, chanting, holding signs, linking arms, taking up space, and protecting eachother. Normal people like you and me. The police and the feds are the ones causing violence, and everyone who has actually been down there can see that clear as day. Once the sun goes down, they start marching in lines down the streets shooting indiscriminately into the crowds.

I’m sure nobody has mentioned that Trump legally needs permission to deploy any troops within the borders of the United States. The mayor of Portland got tear-gassed by them a few nights ago, and a federal judge has just issued a restraining order against the troops to keep them from assaulting or arresting journalists and legal observers.

Seriously, these officers had no identification on them and they were using rented vans to take people off the streets. (DHS *FINALLY* confirmed that they were responsible.) The people taken were people who were legally assembling and protesting, not the anarchist idiots (most of whom are white supremacists) who had caused damage. The governor of Oregon, the mayor of Portland, a few House members, and both senators from Oregon have told the troops to leave, but the acting secretary of the DHS has refused. Tom Ridge, the first ever Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has called him out for his actions, which is saying something. Legislation is currently being drafted to prevent unidentified agents from doing this again, and the US attorney for Oregon is asking for an investigation because this is stuff that happens in third world dictatorships, not a first world country.

Trump is threatening to send troops to Seattle, and I’m pretty sure Mayor Jenny Durkan (former prosecutor for the US Attorney’s office) and Bob Ferguson (attorney general for Washington state, who has yet to lose a battle against the present administration) have the lawsuits written and prepped to file.

Y’all, these weren’t violent protests, and this isn’t “to restore order”. This is Trump flexing his muscles, it’s completely inappropriate, and people aren’t tolerating it.

— 5 —

Campaign propaganda. The image on Trump campaign ad depicting a police officer being attacked by protesters isn’t from the last few months in the United States. It’s from pro-democracy protests in the Ukraine in 2014. This follows the use of a picture of former Washington governor Gary Locke to depict Biden as being soft on China, and the claim that a picture of immigrants jumping over a border in Morocco depicts the US-Mexico border among other misuses of photographs.

Lesson: Campaigns need to google stock images before using them on campaign propaganda.

— 6 —

Seriously, Washington GOP?!?!? Loren Culp, sheriff in a tiny county in eastern Washington and one of the Republican candidates for governor in Washington, is being sued for intimidating a sexual abuse victim, threatening to charge her with making false claims, and failing to report her allegations to child welfare authorities as required by law. Another county investigated the claims the victim was making, and found that she was telling the truth.

Why would we want a law enforcement official who behaves so deplorably as our nextgovernor?!?!? Seriously, the GOP in my state really are showing that they are horrible people (and also a special kind of stupid), given that he’s their current favorite. (I fear that even the state GOP here is getting sick of Tim Eyman, our state’s unofficial parasite.)

— 7 —

Some Facebook humor. Y’all need to start referring to your masks as “face cloaks”.

Fetch me my face cloak!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.