• I watched all the jetpens YouTube videos.  Now I’m not sure what to watch when I need a few minutes of soothing.  [update:  Frank James introvert and 16 personalities videos, apparently]
  • YouTube is fairly sure I want to watch videos of first class cabins on Japanese ferries.  I do not and have not, and yet they have recommended 7 different videos!
  • Ditto people playing piano to elephants… why?
  • otter videos are cute, but otters should likely not be pets (you can google otters as pets for lengthy explanations as to why not)
  • it seems like a big thing right now is setting goals to read more books.  I don’t get that.  Like…why?  I can only assume that they must be trying to read “worthy” books that aren’t actually any fun.  I wish YouTube would stop recommending the videos because just the titles irritate me—they seem to imply that reading isn’t actually a fun thing to do.  Plus their goals are always so low—read 25 books in a year, etc.  I think they must really mean, “Read 25 difficult books” or sadder, “read 25 book club style books that you won’t actually like.”  Because… the books I read are easy and enjoyable!  Not a chore!  And not particularly worthy…
  • DH has gotten really good at cutting his own hair.  It looks a lot better than many of his barbershop haircuts (which vary a lot depending on who he gets).  I think maybe he’s not going to go back to getting his haircut out.
  • I really need a haircut… not sure if I should actually get a real haircut or if I should ask DH to do a straight cut at the bottom, taking a few inches off.  (He does a trim about as well as most supercuts do– but I would not ask him to do anything else, so it may be a while before I go back to a more professional “mom bob.”)  In the mean time my hair is one big POOF.
  • We eat more meat when DH and I are both busy working.  Some of that is more prepared food but I think a lot of it is us growing up heavily midwestern with dinner being a meat, veg, and starch, so that’s what we gravitate to for quick meals.  It also helps not having to worry about things going bad in the fridge since meat can be frozen and defrosted.
  • I’ve started turning the volume off during zoom conferences and just reading the slides.  It helps me not feel overwhelmed.
  • I have been feeling overwhelmed a lot by noise lately.  I guess a year and a half of being at home has made me lose my tolerance.  This bodes poorly for going back to work.  Still, whenever we’ve moved to a city (where there are a lot more people than our town), I’ve adjusted after 2-4 weeks, so presumably I would do that at work too.
  • The recent conference I was at instead of breakout rooms had “Gather” which was just too twee for me.  I gave up at first because of the avatar.  Then I went back and tried again and saw that I would have to wander around to bump into people and gave up at that point.  I just can’t.
  • We thought we had solved the Mystery of the Musty Cupboard (DH recaulked the shower next to it) but it’s looking (smelling) more and more like we’re going to have to pull out some part of the cupboard to figure out if there’s a leak in some pipes.  (We know it’s not the roof or the a/c.)
  • School stuff is even worse– they’re not encouraging masking just saying if you want to you can (other districts have decided on a “need parents permission to not wear a mask” strategy) AND they say you can’t stay home to quarantine even if someone sitting next to you unmasked has covid.  You must actually be showing symptoms in order to miss class.  DC2 is pretty much guaranteed to get covid this year and we feel so helpless.  We’ve looked into virtual schooling options and we waited too long– all the ones that look reasonable are full and the only ones left look terrible.  We have very little time to decide on homeschooling.  If I’d known what was going to happen, I might have taken unpaid leave this semester.
  • Not knowing how to protect my kids is the worst feeling.
  • I’m trying to figure out how to get my words just right for my classes so I get most of the class masked while also not getting called into the Dean’s office again for being anti-Conservative.  Again.
  • I need to move.  I cannot live like this anymore.  If I do get called into the Dean’s office again, I think I will just up and quit mid-semester and hope DH keeps his job for a while.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 47 Comments »

47 Responses to “RBOC”

  1. Jen Says:

    I commented on your previous post about masking at school, complaining about our elementary school principal who argued with me that masks don’t work. At open house last we were the only masked people besides an elderly woman despite being in a low vaccination/high case rate area. We ended up switching the girls to a private school at the last minute to at least get lower density (my 5th grader would have been in a class of 28 and is now in a class of 18 and my first grader moved from 24 to 20).

    We had considered the school in years past so it wasn’t *just* because of covid but this situation finally tipped the scales. We got an email last night that the private school is requiring masks(!) but public schools still are not. We are thrilled that we switched but I know many people who do not have the options we do and are sick with anxiety over this.

    School starts today so we’ll see what happens.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Thank goodness. Unfortunately for us the one sane private school in town went out of business a few years ago and all we have left are religious fundamentalist schools which will likely be worse.

      We got DC2’s schedule yesterday and the principal was wrong about hir staying in the same hallway all day—with lunch and PE and orchestra and 6th grade math zie explores the entire school every other period. We’re now just hoping zie gets a very mild case. Hir enro masks came yesterday so hopefully that will help some.

      • delagar Says:

        This happened to us — every private school was religious and terrible, and then the one sane private school, the Montessori school, was taken over by religious jerks. We ended up pulling the kid and homeschooling him for four years.

        (Our problem wasn’t Covid, obviously; it was that the kid was autistic, though we didn’t know it then, and couldn’t handle the huge classes and constant noise of our public schools. He had 44 kids in his kindergarten class!)

        IDK how old DC2 is, but our kid worked pretty well under minimal supervision. We did have to hire a math tutor.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DC2 is very chatty unless there’s virtual schooling. Virtual Camps have worked well but weeks without them are pretty full of interruptions. If one of us gave up on work we could do it.

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    My college has a vaccine mandate, for students and employees. I’m so glad we do, but it’s not without problems. Just yesterday, HR sent out a fairly abrupt “we haven’t gotten your card yet!” email to lots of people AND their supervisors. I got one of those emails for myself, even though I’d sent in my card. I also got one for someone that HR thinks I supervise, but I don’t, and that person got incredibly upset about confidentiality breaches. Ugh.

    Still, I’m glad that I’m in a vaccine-mandated school, because this will be temporarily glitchy and then things will be smoother. (I hope. If we don’t have crucial people resigning in frustration).

    At my church, which is much more politically mixed, almost no one masks. I do, and I’m pretty deliberate about saying that I’m doing it (even though I’m vaccinated) because I don’t want anyone else to have to be the only one in a mask. They can always say, “Miser Mom is also doing it”. I know there are good reasons for vaccinated people to wear masks, but saying that I do it so that others don’t feel uncomfortable has been a more effective way of encouraging others (at my church, at least) to mask up as well.

    G’luck with hunting down the source of the mold!

  3. Steph Says:

    My school requires vaccines for students but not for faculty/staff, which is annoying. The summer students in our department (all vaxxed) lead the way on re-masking, so I’m moderately hopeful that we’ll stay masked for classes. I definitely intend to teach my “big” (25 students) intro class while masked no matter the guidelines; we’ll see for the smaller upper level class.

    I’m sorry that your dean and your school system are being so terrible.

    I actually really like Gather for online conferences! It makes it a lot easier to just bump into people and have quick/casual conversations, instead of needing to set up 30 minute Zoom calls or something where I feel like I need An Agenda. Though most of the conferences I’ve been to have used it for poster sessions – so you have the excuse of wandering around through the posters, instead of just idly mingling in one big space.

    (We did the idle mingling the first time, but that was at a small subfield conference where most of us know each other anyway, and the organizers made a bunch of silly easter eggs that we could run around and look for.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That seems so backwards! If they’re worried about it not being FDA approved you’d think they’d require it for faculty/staff and not students(!) But requiring it for students is definitely getting more people and the mobile people, so probably safer from a public health perspective. Still, unmasked teachers without shields can be super-spreaders. Why not just require both? (With exceptions for people with a doctor’s note etc.)

      I should probably give Gather another chance but it was really just too twee. I did prefer the vaguely themed lunch sessions we had had the previous year that at least clustered people by research interest.

      • Steph Says:

        I truly don’t understand. I thought maybe they didn’t want to deal with the possibility of a tenured faculty member refusing to get vaccinated, but clearly other schools have made that work. I still suspect some of it is related to union contracts with staff.

        Yeah, for something like a short lunch, Gather can definitely be too much. I think I just mentally blocked my memories of some new faculty events in Gather, which were generally equivalent or worse than Zoom breakout rooms.

        In my (sub)field, conferences seem to have settled into a pattern of
        – Zoom webinars for talks (with no audience participation on Zoom)
        – Slack for questions/discussions, and some social connections (like cat pictures)
        – Gather for poster sessions, and optional mingling
        Which overall has worked pretty well, for me at least.

        One thing that might also make a difference is numbers. Conferences I attend are usually <~500 people, except for one big yearly meeting that's a few thousand. So I usually have enough acquaintances that I can mingle easily via Gather, in an equivalent way to coffee breaks or poster sessions at in-person conferences. But if my network was a smaller fraction of the overall conference, that would make things more difficult

  4. omdg Says:

    Our University is requiring vaccines for all faculty, staff, and students. Except that nurses, who are unionized, and also the biggest group of anti-vaxers on campus, do not have to get vaccinated. Sigh.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I remember taking classes at the community college when I was a kid and wondering why it was only the nursing students who were smoking. It makes no sense!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      (Also Emily Oster a couple summers ago had a really nice paper using I think the Framingham nurses study to show a bifurication in treatment effects between healthy-living nurses and unhealthy-living nurses whenever one of those correlational health studies made news– the measured treatment effect gets larger. Which is logical, but I thought a very nice illustration of the concept.)

  5. Ilike beets Says:

    UMass-Amherst and Hampshire College are not requiring vaccines for employees. Don’t know about students.

    Last checked anyway, and Amherst, Smith and Mt. Holyoke are requiring for employees…

    Who knows really anymore, I think people around here seem to “care” differently about Covid than your red state…..However there is still a very common theme of “just not giving a f#ck” within the same group.
    If that makes sense?

  6. A Says:

    Our college is also requiring vaccination of students but not faculty/staff. I think it’s because they have a process in place for health requirements for students but not employees, and because they think (probably accurately) that voluntary compliance will be high. They have started to ask us to actually tell them if we’re vaccinated though. No word yet on masks in the classroom; my impression is that I’m not allowed to ask students about vaccines or require masks, but I carefully have not asked. Waiting to see what our actual student vaccination rate is, once the exemptions are factored in.

    And our local schools will require masks inside but not outside (and they added a lot of outside classroom-like spaces, ie circles of stumps) which seems ok. Though I know this spring the kids decided it was easier to just wear masks at recess and not worry about it. And I was told last spring (when they reopened for the first time in a year) that the teacher vaccination rate was above 85%.

    At this point I’m hopeful. And more afraid that school will shut down again than that they will stop requiring masks.

  7. Lisa Says:

    One “good”??? thing about being in very red states is that the homeschool laws can be very permissive. I pulled one of my kids out mid-year last year and homeschooled them for the rest of the year. Last year I did it because the district was only online and the teachers were horrible. This year, I’m looking into homeschool or private school for my unvaccinated youngest. If your district is anything like ours, all I needed was a notarized statement that I was homeschooling the kid, and reenrolling them later (say, after they’re vaccinated) is easy. I didn’t have to document anything we’d studied, provide a plan, anything. Which is fairly terrifying considering what other homeschooled kids may or may not be learning. But it worked OK for us. I more or less followed what the school had been doing. I’m not ready to concede that my youngest just has to get it. It’s more of a philosophical thing at this point – we have no particular high risk and the rest of us are vaccinated. But we’ve come so far! We can’t give up yet!

  8. Lisa Says:

    Although my state has outlawed mask mandates and our state U has to comply, I work on the medical campus. For a while, only buildings that patients visited were requiring masks (masking in healthcare settings wasn’t outlawed, I guess). But with the recent CDC guidance that everyone mask up again, all of the buildings on the medical campus have reinstated mask mandates, including the building where I work and the building where I teach. I’m thrilled about this new development because I was planning to wear a mask when I teach anyway and was considering whether I could kindly request that the students do the same, but now I don’t have to! Vaccine mandates are likewise not allowed, but nearly everyone in my is vaccinated and proud enough of it to spread the word (I’ve not been explicitly asking but most of us were so excited when we finally got the shot that we shared it with everyone). I’ve also heard that the COVID vaccine was added to the list of vaccinations our incoming graduate students should have (not sure of the wording, but if it’s on the list, hopefully most of them will get it!).

  9. xykademiqz Says:

    There is strong encouragement from multiple levels of administration for both students and faculty/staff to vaccinate and the vaccinations rates are high. Masking is also required (again) as of today in all indoor spaces. No social distancing in classrooms as one big building is being renovated so classroom space is at a premium. I teach late in the afternoon. when the demand is low, so am going to see if I can get a really large classroom I used last year.

    Not sure about the kiddos, but it is likely everyone will be masked. Eldest and Middle got vaccinated ages ago. I feel lucky to live where I do, if I’m being honest. The local vaccination rates are well above the national average. I feel for everyone in places that seem not to give a toss about young kids’ wellbeing. :-(

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH and DC1 just got back from schedule pickup, which took TWO HOURS, mostly standing in line indoors. Almost nobody at the high school was wearing masks. Only 20% of kids age 12-15 are vaccinated. I’m not sure about 16-18. (This was juniors, so in theory mostly 15-16 year olds?)

      I’m glad your Midwestern state isn’t going off the Southern deep end!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I was like, “if they ask you tell them you have to protect your baby sibling. DC1 is like, if they ask [about why zie’s wearing a mask], why can’t I just ask them “why not?” I am proud of DC1.

      DC2 was all who are you calling baby?!

  10. CG Says:

    Our university and the university in the town where I live just announced vaccine mandates. We are required to wear masks until Sept. 15 and then they’ll re-evaluate. We are in a low case-count area but cases are rising. The public schools in our town have a mask mandate and I’ve heard that our vaccination rates are very high for kids who are eligible (and even some who aren’t…). So, I’m hoping it will be ok. We’ll see. I’m so tired of worrying.

    Could you get a very last-minute visiting position somewhere blue this year just to wait it out and then figure out something permanent? I realize that’s unlikely, just brainstorming.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That all sounds so sensible.

      I could take unpaid leave for the semester, but that hurts (vaccinated) DC1 who will be a junior in high school. DH could take DC2 and move someplace blue for the semester… if we’d known it would be insane like this we would probably be doing that. Homeschooling DC2 seems more reasonable at the present time.

      I’m trying to buy a billboard in our state capitol saying our state government is killing kids. We’ll see if I can get one of these indivisible groups to go for organizing it. (Maybe one near the state education agency…)

  11. SP Says:

    We are doing masked preschool and I’m still feeling that it is inevitable that my kid will catch COVID. I have debated options of reducing / temporarily quitting employment, but I do not think that the risk warrants that action. It’s pretty frustrating, though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Rates are pretty low and vaccine rates are pretty high where you are. With masks and other precautions, they might escape it.

      • SP Says:

        Rates are about 20-25/100k daily new, and climbing right now. Which is low compared to some places, but not really that low. I’m hoping they will go down again soon…. . Vaccination rates are pretty high, teachers in the school are vaccinated, so it may be OK.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        *fingers crossed*

        Even with high rates, with masking and appropriate precautions, most of the elementary and lower middle schools didn’t have that much transmission last year. DC1’s high school and one of the upper-level middle schools were responsible for most of it. Of course, Delta is more transmissible than last year’s variants, so who knows what the careful masked and vaccinated counterfactual would have been. :/

  12. SP Says:

    Oh, i also meant to comment on books thing. In the past, I’ve read mostly enjoyable books, with a few more learning/challenging mixed in for variety. But for whatever reason, since having my kid, focusing on a novel of any kind was pretty challenging compared to internetting or netflix or staring into space. Even reading an easy, fun novel. (This past month has been different, so maybe I have that part of my brain back intact!) So I kinda get the goals, and I also think the most I’ve read as an adult (for the years I tracked) was not very high. It is just choosing to make the initial investment of finding and starting a book that i don’t prioritize – usually, once i start, i enjoy it and finish quickly. But, I don’t get watching youtube videos about the goal, before you’ve done it. What would there be to say?

  13. Matthew D Healy Says:

    I think the Conservative definition of “discrimination” is actually “failure to discriminate in their favor.”

    I’m still cutting DW’s hair and she’s satisfied with the job I do for her, but my own hair was a mess in the back where I couldn’t see what I was doing. Mirror didn’t help much. When our whole life was Zoom that was OK since the front was all anybody saw. But now we’re back to seeing our vaccinated friends and relatives in person. I went to Great Clips once when case here were very low. Now cases are creeping up here. Not like Missouri or Florida but definitely up. So I found a barbershop where the owner is the only barber.

  14. middle_class Says:

    My kids will be full-time virtual. Our school has option of in-person, hybrid, or virtual. I think there are plans to enforce mask wearing and social distancing? Nothing was mentioned about required vaccination or proof or vaccination. However I do live in a blue state.

    Another year of home schooling is NOT ideal. One of my kids definitely learns better in person. Both need more socialization.

  15. Lisa Says:

    I just got the plan from our school district and it was encouraging – following the science, CDC guidelines, all that jazz. Although mask mandates are off the table, I’m feeling somewhat hopeful that the school is taking things seriously. After spending the morning touring a private school that I hoped might be a solution but clearly is not, I needed this news. Maybe I won’t have to homeschool again? Maybe I just jinxed myself?

    And I really need to go to the dentist and get a haircut, but I fear I wasted our “low cases” interval and cases are skyrocketing again. I guess I’m stuck cutting my own hair and brushing my own teeth for a bit longer!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh no! That sucks that the private school didn’t work out. But it is good that the school district is doing what it can.

      i really need DH to give me a trim while there’s still time for it to grow out before I teach again.

      I just read an article yesterday suggesting that every 6 months to the dentist is non-optimal, and every 12-18 months makes more sense…

    • Lisa Says:

      Now our board of health is asking the mayor and county council to issue a mask mandate (which would be allowable under state laws). I just wrote to the mayor and all the council members urging them to do it. I know they get SO MUCH public pressure from the crazies, I hope that a few voices in favor will help.

  16. Debbie M Says:

    I do have a goal to read books I might not like, but it’s not a certain number. (I’ve decided to try to read books from every country. Ideally they are both educational *and* fun. But many authors really want to educate people on the horrible things happening in their country.) But I’m also still reading random recommended books (because most of those are fun–my friends or whoever are just telling me their favorites).

    Woo, congrats on DH getting so good at cutting his hair! I also cut my own hair and it’s so freeing and wonderful (and cheap)! I don’t have to worry if my stylist leaves, I don’t have to make appointments, and I don’t have to risk covid. (Not that my hair looks great. I just grow it long and cut it straight across the back and look like a dork. On the other hand, why would I pay a professional to do that? Well, I guess some people go for head massages or something, but I’ve never had that and do not want to know what I’m missing.)

    I don’t know if ear plugs would help you. I used to wear them at concerts. Then bars. Then movies. Then buses (infernal beeping). And now even places with high background noise. People have to raise their voices over this noise anyway, so I can usually still hear them and, if not, I just take out an ear plug.

    Man, your school is just begging your children to lie about symptoms. Well, maybe faking a cough is just a skill that kids these days need to learn. This really sucks, and I’m sorry, and I wish you the best with all this.

    Governor Abbott of Texas is making it illegal for many kinds of places to require masks (or vaccines), and his excuse is that “Everyone already knows what to do” so we can rely rely on personal responsibility rather than government mandates. So maybe a focus on taking personal responsibility, now that we know what to do, can help you not look anti-conservative. Ugh, sorry about the horrible atmosphere.

  17. Cloud Says:

    I am late to this but wanted to say I am so sorry about the school situation for you. The way this has gone is so frustrating. I didn’t think I could feel more alienated from my country-mates than I was after four years of Trump and yet here we are. I have heard some encouraging rumors about the FDA perhaps rethinking the need for more data before approving the vaccine for 5-11 year olds. I hope those rumors turn out to be true.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I sure hope so. There are some bright spots—a judge has ruled Arkansas’ ban illegal and a bunch of school districts in Texas are actively ignoring the ban and putting in their own mask mandates.

      My own district just changed the page saying kids would be counted absent if they quarantined without symptoms and are now allowed to quarantine. BUT it’s not clear that they will tell us if our kids are exposed. And unlike the district next to ours they’re not mandating masks on busses which the district next to ours says they can do because transportation is federal not state.

      We still keep going back and forth on whether or not to pull DC2 from school. But we have very little time to decide.

  18. SHU Says:

    I’m late on this but cannot believe you watched ALL the jet pens videos! They are so calming and fun to watch. I’m impressed :)

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