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.
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.
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!)
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.
Reminder to vote. Some of you might live in states with a primary coming up to decide the ballot for things like House member, senator, governor, etc. All of those positions determine policy both in Washington and in your home state, so please do vote. Your senators confirm judicial nominees and Cabinet positions, for example.
On voting by mail. I received my ballot in the mail today for the August 4 primary because of the entire state of Washington voting by mail. It was a wonderful surprise when I moved up here to find this out, and it is actually an amazing thing. My ballot has a tracking number on it keyed to my name, and I can enter my name in and it will tell me if my ballot has been processed yet. I’ve actually only voted in person a handful of times since I hit voting age 22 years ago, and those are the few times I’ve had problems with my ballots. I’ve never had a problem with my absentee ballot ever in California or Montana, and Washington’s system has been lovely. (I voted in person in Ohio and Minnesota.)
Washington’s REPUBLICAN Secretary of State (emphasis added to show that this not a purely partisan issue with Democrats) wrote an opinion piece on why voting by mail really does work. My only complaint about my ballot this time is that Tim Eyman is listed as a candidate for governor instead of in his own electoral position as State Parasite. (Yes, that was catty. The truth hurts, y’all. Dude is useless and just creates legislation to screw up the state.)
Sweetness. Mom has taken to watching travel videos on YouTube, and Daniel will hang out and watch with her. Currently, they’re watching a Rick Steves one on Budapest. I’ve walked into their room to do things on occasion (they have a printer/scanner and the cats usually hang out in there) and have had to play “figure out the city” a few times.
Duolingo. I decided to get back into language learning during quarantine and have been learning Spanish and Arabic on Duolingo while also reviewing my French. They have a ton of different languages (including Klingon and High Valyrian) and the way they teach seems to work well for me.
/blinks repetitively I walked into the dining room 30 minutes ago to find one of my dad’s shoes on the leg of a dining room chair and encyclopedias stacked on top of the seat. When I found him, my first words were, “what did you break?”
(Part of his shoe was coming loose, so he was gluing it down with shoe goo.)
4th of July. It was a quiet 4th of July here in terms of family activity. My dad grilled hotdogs, and I got to see quite a few fireworks shows from my bedroom window… because various people on my cross-street and some of the other cul-de-sacs spent HUNDREDS of dollars on fireworks which they set off for probably 3 straight hours from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Our poor cats were curled up in my mom’s closet because it sounded like we were being shelled. (My town does allow fireworks between certain hours on the 4th of July, but a lot of other towns don’t.)
Back to Work. Summer Quarter started this week, and I’m getting to tutor for the first time ever during the summer because everything is online. I’ve met with all of my students at least once now, and the first-week stuff that always comes up is getting ironed out.
For those who are wondering, we aren’t going to know if we’ll be back on-campus for Fall Quarter until August. I’d prefer to stay online because the COVID risk is still high here, and my family is still locked down really tightly, so I wouldn’t be able to work on campus. I also know that our college president is risk-averse, so I can’t see him putting the student body in danger.
John Rutter. If you know the music of John Rutter (English choral composer) at all, you’ll appreciate this parody of his work called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rutter” by Pitchcraft. The best part: THEY’RE SINGING IT TO JOHN RUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!! (He loves it.)
/glares at Minion. I just went to go grab a couple of cartons of formula to feed the kid and prep tomorrow’s morning feed because doing it in the morning when I’m tired makes me want to cry. I get in the guest room (where we keep all the fun stuff) and notice a couple of cartons that had been on top of the boxes were on the floor. I picked them up and found them to be empty… WITH FANG MARKS IN THEM. My cat child had bitten them and they had leaked on the carpet.
I was not happy. Meanwhile, Mr. Black Paws is sprawled on the guest bed letting me know that he is magnificent and soft and cute. I told him that he is none of those things and is instead a VERY BAD CAT. (He is not sorry.)
Recommendation. If you are a bullet journal junkie, go check out Planning with Kay. She is delightful, features her house panther in her YouTube videos, and the community during her livestreams is amazing.
Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties. All y’all in those three counties who are refusing to mask up are the source of many of the new COVID-19 cases. It’s the reason Governor Inslee has had to go visit you and make it a gross misdemeanor not to wear a mask in public in just your counties. I know you hate the governor, but your stupid partisan hatred is causing the rest of us to give up ICU and hospital beds to accommodate your patients. So, please grow the [insert word] up, and just wear a damn mask.
The western half of the state who already pays for all of your services
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Skagit County Chorale are local to me, and the choir’s cases are 10-20% of my county’s COVID-19 cases. The two women who died are connected to me through church friends.
Some beautiful music. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is our opening hymn for Sunday morning, and I found this beautiful version from the Spelman College Glee Club when I was searching for something to put my church’s Facebook page.
I can’t even with this… If you attempt to explain this away, you are a horrible human being and your voting privileges need to be revoked. Telling black people that they “need to learn about their history or go back to it” is racist as [insert expletive], and it shows that Trump doesn’t understand American history at all. The reason we want to rename places and take statues down is that the people did horrible things, and those things should not be glorified.
Also, if anyone is afraid that not having these statues will cause us to forget our history, I need to introduce you to an amazing thing called a “book”.
Weekend plans. Given the spike we’re having in COVID-19 cases right now in my area (which for us means that we’re up from no new cases for a week to 5+ new cases per day), a family gathering this weekend is OBVIOUSLY not happening. It will just be my household and we’ll have hot dogs for dinner on Saturday night. We’ll also see how much we get shelled by idiots playing with fireworks. (They are unfortunately legal on the 4th in my town during certain hours.) All the parades and events in my area are cancelled because the people in charge actually believe medical experts who are saying it’s a bad idea. (All those states who reopened early and have spikes in infection rates are proof of why the leadership needs to be listening.)
A sign of things to come.This makes two Republican candidates for governor who are having legal issues. (This is the other one.) I’m wondering who the GOP in Washington is going to try next, given that they seem to be attracting idiots.
The source of these Quick Takes. On Saturday afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this picture:
I generally don’t share stuff from Occupy Democrats because while I agree with them a lot of the time and they are mostly accurate, they get really mean-spirited about things. (I will admit that my first thought when I saw the wording was that the way they worded it was a bit catty.)
However, this piqued my interest enough to fact-check it. I mean, did people *REALLY* want to do something as stupid as go near an active volcano?
A couple of important things to take away from the webinar. Steve Malone (the seismologist tracking Mount St. Helens at the time) made some points that were worth sharing.
He also made an interesting analogy with this picture here:
Scientists tend to have a lot of models and data types and inputs that they are using to try to figure out what is going on. Civil authorities who are having to make these decisions want a yes/no answer. It’s why governors who are putting their trust in scientists and medical authorities are not able to give a specific answer as to when things will go back to “normal”… especially since we are looking at an entirely new normal now!
Where I am seeing a parallel. Governor Dixy Lee Ray did sign an order to keep people out of the “red” and “blue” zones around the mountain, but she allowed Weyerhauser trucks in for logging purposes because logging was a big part of the economy. Among those killed in the eruption were members of at least one logging crew. Had it not been a Sunday when the mountain erupted, more logging crews would have been in the area, and the death toll would have been much higher. There was a volcanologist named David A. Johnston who was killed in one of the pyroclastic flows, and that was a bitter pill for the person for whom he was standing in and the UW researchers monitoring the volcano. (Johnston Ridge Observatory is named after him.)
There’s also kind of a sad story about a man named Harry R. Truman who refused to leave the lodge he owned on Spirit Lake. He became a folk hero of sorts because of it, and his body was never found. They think that he was killed in a pyroclastic flow and that his lodge and his body and his cats are all buried under something like 150 feet of ash. His attitude reminds me of some of the people protesting in states to get the economy reopened. I look at them and ask myself “why???” because what they’re doing is endangering themselves, but it’s their decision to put themselves in danger.
This kind of thing is why I’m getting so salty about those who are more concerned about the economy than actual human lives. We can take steps to put the economy back together, but we can’t bring people back from the dead. I’m hearing on my local news about states that have “reopened” reporting the highest COVID-19 case count ever for that specific day while I’m watching the curve flatten out in Washington and in my own county where we’re still sheltering-in-place. It’s a balancing act for sure, and it irritates me that some people are trying to make it into a simplistic issue because their situation is merely one of inconvenience.
A really cool story. There’s a photographer who goes to Goodwill and finds exposed film from old cameras to develop. She ended up finding some that had pictures of the Mount St. Helens eruption. Even cooler is that the grandson of the person who owned the camera now has pictures of himself with his parents and grandmother that he didn’t know existed.
1.) Both sides of my family are geology junkies. My maternal grandfather was a geology major before he had to leave college due to illness and World War II, and my paternal grandfather enjoyed the geology classes he took as general education credits. I have a cousin who majored in Geology and did graduate work in it (digging dinosaur bones in Montana and working with Jack Horner), and my parents both grew up getting roadside geology lectures from their fathers. As a result, we’re full of amateur geologists, especially on my mom’s side. (I think my mom’s family keeps the Roadside Geology publishers in business.)
2.) My entire family is from Oregon and Washington originally. This was a big deal.
3.) My mom went into labor with my twin brother and me as Mount St. Helens erupted. We were born 24 hours later. Twin births are often complicated, and mine was no exception. My brother was almost twice my size, and my heart stopped mid-birth. I required resuscitation and spent my first week of life at Stanford Children’s Hospital, 45 minutes away from my parents in San Jose, before being transferred back to Los Gatos Community Hospital for another two weeks to get bigger. My brother came home after three days. I came home after three weeks.
My family always makes jokes about Mount St. Helens and our birth. We have newspapers from Yakima from the day of our birth talking about all the ash falling. When we were 25 years old, my dad got some ash from the volcano and sent it to my brother and me. (Mine is sitting on the bookcase next to my desk.) My parents visited the volcanic monument that year and took a picture of themselves at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. My brother and I were photoshopped into the picture (along with their cats), and it was used as the Christmas picture that year. 🙂 Because of my connection to the mountain, I tend to geek out on documentaries on it at this time of year.
And yes, I did just turn 40 years old this week. 🙂 I had a quiet day, my dad made me one of my favorite meals, and my parents got me a carrot cake. We did candles and presents with my evil twin over Facebook messenger. It wasn’t what we usually do, but it was pretty fabulous.
Washington’s stay-at-home order is being extended until the 31st, which is reasonable as we were the first hotspot and we’ve seen our curve flattening in the right direction as a result of the order. I thought I would share what is keeping me functional right now because maybe it might help someone else who is having a hard time?
Posting mask selfies. I was originally doing it to snark about Mike Pence not wearing one at the Mayo Clinic, but it has gotten to just be fun now. Having had a COVID-19 test last weekend, I will *JOYFULLY* wear masks in public for the rest of my life to not have to go through that again. Yeah, my glasses fog up, but that is so much easier than being stuck in an isolation room or being intubated, not knowing if I would wake up from sedation alive. I also am happy to do it if it has even a remote shot of protecting others from getting infected. It’s not an imposition if it contributes to public health, and I fail to understand why people are being so pissy about companies like Costco requiring masks. There are a bunch of patterns online for even us who can’t sew, and it’s a craft you can make with kids, or you can google “masks for sale in [your area]” and give money to someone who might be using this to make ends meet right now.
Volunteering for my church. Even once the state is opened up again, I will probably still have to wait a few weeks to be able to join the folks at St. Paul’s again. This is why I’m really happy that I can help make Sunday worship happen for us on Zoom, and also help make our postponed “Lenten” book study possible.
Watching YouTube. My guilty pleasure is “Live PD”. I’m sorry to admit that I really do enjoy watching being tracked by K9 officers or tased. (My cousin, who is an ex-sheriff’s deputy up here, would be rolling his eyes at me.)
Working. I am thankfully blessed with a job I can do online, so I’m working with students ~12 hours a week. I don’t have any Accounting students for a change (it’s one of my specialties), but I have gotten lent out to the entire campus, so I am working in departments as diverse as Human Services (basically, social work) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The reason: I’m a Microsoft specialist, and I’m apparently good at working with English Language Learners. (I love my English learners fiercely. I’ve only had two students among them who haven’t been people I want as coworkers someday, and I’m continually blown away at how well they’re doing their classes in their second or third language.)
I also have an amazing boss and really fun co-tutors. Tutor-training meetings are actually pretty fun, even on Zoom.
Reading. I was trying to bring my Target cart up to $25 so an order of cleaning wipes would ship, and I added a mass-market paperback murder mystery that looked kind of nice to it to bump my order to the right amount. I ended up reading the book in one sitting and ordered the other seven in the series. I think that what I need to get me reading again is something brainless because my daily life requires a huge amount of serious thought.
Word in Washington is that our stay-at-home order is being extended, and we will find out how much longer tomorrow. (It was supposed to end on May 4th, but we’re not nearly ready to reopen the state according to Governor Inslee and the doctors, scientists, and public health people he is trusting to advise him.) It’s not great, but this was about saving lives, not my own personal happiness and convenience.
I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being home with my crankypants child for six weeks while trying to work… and it has worked out. Here are some things I’ve learned.
I’ve learned that teachers deserve to be paid two to three times what they earn. I mean, I had mad respect for Daniel’s teachers before as well as my teacher friends who are severely underpaid. Then, I watched the reaction of teachers in the room at Daniel’s IEP meeting when the announcement came down that schools were closed for six weeks. I then watched Daniel’s teacher work her tail off to find class management software to fit each one of her kids when it was announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. When my kiddo had a problem dealing with learning over Zoom (because autism = routines and places MUST remain constant), his teacher just hung out and played tablet games with him until he was used to it. She puts together a YouTube video for her kiddos to watch on school mornings so they can do calendar time and News 2 You together. I’ve seen teachers at other schools post “We Miss You” signs in the windows for kids to see when they come to pick up food for the day or go for walks, and the bilingual immersion program teachers got together to make a massive collage of them spelling out a message of love to their students in English and Spanish. Others have masked up and gone to visit students in their homes to troubleshoot laptop issues.
I am definitely making a contribution to his current teacher’s classroom next year, even though Daniel will be at a different school. She loves her kids like her own, and I’ve seen others in the district here who are the same way.
I’ve learned how to find the last commercially-available cleaning wipes. Granted, I did see the writing on the wall and grab a good supply from Amazon before everything disappeared from grocery stores, but I’ve also managed to find them on big box store websites as recently as LAST WEEK. (I swear… I got the last canisters available for shipment from Target before even their generic ones started being routed only to hospitals.) It has become a game for me.
I’ve learned how to facilitate worship on Facebook Live and Zoom. Since it will likely be a while before my church is back worshipping together and my governor isn’t exempting churches from the stay-at-home order, it’s good that I can at least use my gifts and talents to serve my congregation. We’ve gotten better at getting everything together with a few hiccups here and there (because keeping people muted appropriately can be like herding cats at times), but we’re making it work.
A benefit of having worship online is that we are making it accessible for shut-ins. Even when we can all come back to worshipping in person, we at least have a way to also put it online that we didn’t have before. I have some amazing people working with me on this, and I definitely know this will be a good thing for me as I have been that shut-in person several times in the past.
I’ve learned ways to get my needs met. Want food from your favorite local restaurant? Look online to see if they are registered with a delivery service. (We have a really good local one called Munchie Dude.) Need a cloth mask? Put out a Facebook message letting people know your need and maybe someone you know is making them for income or will make one for free. (I just went to Etsy so that my church ladies could focus on making them for nursing home. When I found out about a parishioner selling them, I put out the word that she makes them.) Have a Starbucks addiction? See if there’s a local drive-thru one. (Yes, I have an addiction. Shut up!)
I’ve learned how to survive being stuck around people. My parents and I are all introverts, but my dad and I like to leave the house on occasion. Because we’re all high-risk, trips are limited to grocery shopping (once a week per person), Starbucks (an essential service-shut up!), medical needs (a.k.a. physical therapy when Zoom doesn’t cut it and the possible emergency dental one for me tomorrow), and stuff that can’t be ordered online. We generally just head to our rooms when we start getting peopled out (which works unless Daniel is feeling needy), and both Mom and Dad go for walks or work in the yard. (I’m sadly allergic to “outside” at the moment. Allergies during a pandemic suck.)
We’ve started eating as a family again. During olden times (a.k.a. before the pandemic), we ate together only on special occasions because we all have our own schedules and needs. These days, Mom or Dad make a “company” dish and we’ll have dinner at the table. I still eat different food from them frequently even though Lent is over and I can eat meat again (part of my diet is for health reasons), but I’ll bring whatever I’m eating to the table and we’ll still eat as a family. Daniel is even coming downstairs to be near us on occasion.
I’ve learned that I can do anything for six weeks. Life will not be “normal” again ever because we are in a new place due to coronavirus, but we’ll all (as in, all of humanity) adjust to a new “normal”. Yes, it’s going to be inconvenient for the people who benefitted from the less good parts of the old “normal”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We have an opportunity to create a better situation, and I’m all in.