RBOC

  • I have been watching a LOT of British game shows on youtube, the kind where they have the same set of comedians cycling through as celebrity guests on all sorts of different shows.  I think about half of them are hosted by Jimmy Carr who is an odd duck.
  • I’ve gotten to know the on-air personas of most of these comedians now.  So I’ve gone back and rewatched some clips from earlier and they now have new meaning.  This is not like me.
  • Two comedians that I kind of identify with are David Mitchell and Jon Richardson.  While I think I would rather spend time with David Mitchell, I definitely identify more with Jon Richardson.  Hoo boy do I share a lot of his OCD traits.  (Though the online quizzes always say I’m borderline OCD and he’s had to get actual treatment for it.)  There’s this one Would I Lie to You where he says that sometimes when he’s stressed he takes a bath without water… that is, he gets into his bathtub fully clothed and doesn’t turn the water on and sometimes puts a blanket over the tub and just hides.  I GET THAT.  I understand so much, though I’m more of an “under the desk” or “hiding in a closet” kind of person myself.  None of the other contestants understood.
  • I love the way that James Acaster calls out hosts who ask inappropriate questions of female and minority guests in a way that’s funny and draws attention to him and the host and away from the host’s victim, while pointing out precisely how inappropriate the question was.  “How’s that question working out for you then, Jonathan?”
  • There’s this new show called “I literally just told you” which is brilliant.  I thought I would hate it, especially after watching a clip from episode 2 where Carr bemoans how stupid the contestants are, but I watched the celebrity episode 3 and omg, it is brilliant.  (Apparently episode 1 has very smart normal people contestants.)
  • I have not wanted to watch another episode.  Maybe the next celebrity episode.
  • Outdoor education isn’t being offered this semester, so DC1’s only (required) PE choice is Team Sports.  They’re playing basketball in the gym.  But… the teacher was out with covid the first week of class, so they sat in the gym and used it as a study hall.  So… yay?  Update:  Teacher was there week 2, but out again week 3… Not sure why.
  • When the teacher is in, DC1 gets 90% for the week but when it’s a sub zie gets 100% for the week.  The teacher hasn’t been there enough for DC1 to ask what points are being taken off for.
  • DC1 says that all the people who are actually good at sports are doing actual competitive team sports for their PE requirement, so hir class is comically bad and nobody knows the rules to anything.
  • DC2 says in hir PE class all they do is run laps to a whistle and get yelled at.  Which I guess explains why none of these high schoolers know the rules to basketball.  (DH and I who went to different middle schools in different towns in the same midwestern state both had the experience of being set up like a North Korean military exercise to practice the wrist flop used to shoot a basketball.  We were also taught and tested on the rules of the game.)
  • DH says that one reason his current exercise thing is working well is because he does it during work instead of during time off so the trade off is getting to listen to a podcast during work instead of not getting to see a movie etc.
  • Ecanto has really good music.  As soon as it gets to DVD I may actually watch the entire thing in one sitting!  (We don’t have Disney+, but DC2’s friends do and they’ve been talking about it tons and DC2 has been watching clips of the songs on youtube.)
  • I hate anchovies.  But for some reason we have several cookbooks that I’ve been going through that use them in multiple recipes.  Recently I found out (I think from one of the cookbooks) that you can substitute capers for anchovies and get the same pungent saltiness without the anchovy fishiness in many recipes. So we’ve been going through a lot of capers as we go through these previously skipped recipes.
  • I didn’t know what a caper was or how to use it until college.  We were at a friend’s house and she didn’t know how to cook but her parents had capers and she thought capers were fancy so she added the entire (undrained) jar to a spaghetti sauce and it was so bad.
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RBOCovid

  • I don’t know if you remember, but DH’s relative’s wife’s anti-vax, anti-mask family all got Covid over Thanksgiving and at least two of them were hospitalized.  (The relative’s wife in question has a suppressed immune system and had brain cancer a few years back.  Her relatives don’t care.)  Well, the relative just emailed to let DH know that two of them, including one that was hospitalized just got Covid a second time.  They’re still unvaxxed and still anti-mask.  One of them is taking ivermectin but the other is old school with the hydrocloroquinine.  That is a really short time period between getting Covid again.  Was one Delta and the other Omicron?
  • Update:  The entire extended family (except DH’s relative’s wife who is boosted but still spent two hours at the super-spreader event unmasked) now has covid again.
  • The NYTimes numbers and our health department’s numbers for new covid cases in our county have started varying really dramatically, like by hundreds of cases per day (NYTimes being the larger).  Plus the NYTimes has stopped reporting 0 new cases on weekends.  (The health department doesn’t work on weekends.)
  • Our health department took extremely lengthy holidays between Dec 22nd and Jan 7th.  They worked about two days within that time-frame, meaning during the early ramp up of omicron there was no information.  When they came back they had a huge backlog of cases.  But they don’t count cases that are reported to them, only cases that they have fully investigated.
  • Every day the backlog cases number gets larger by a bigger amount than the number of cases they’ve screened.  As of this writing (which was a week ago) they are reporting about 150 new cases per day per 100K people and the backlog is about 2,100 new cases per 100K people.  If trends continue, tomorrow’s backlog will be minimum 2,300 per 100K people.  (Update:  it was 2,400 per 100K.  Update 2:  It seems to have stalled out around 2,500 per 100K, though students haven’t gotten back yet.)
  • The health department has also stopped reporting daily numbers on their twitter feed.  You basically have to read a local news article to get their numbers each day.
  • Our town had a couple of pop-up drive-through testing sites that had really long lines.  They still have not reported their positives to the health department.
  • The health department has also said that they won’t accept home-tests and if you want your case included in the count you need to get an official test.  But it’s really hard to get official tests locally and if you do, you wait hours.
  • The health department itself doesn’t do testing.  They’ve outsourced it to a few local pharmacies.  Most of the university’s testing sites were closed over break.
  • My university has decided not to do drive-through testing at the beginning of the year, but instead will allow people to order and pick up two Binax tests/week on campus.  On the one hand, this is useful because you can use the Binax tests on family members and you can use them at your convenience.  On the other hand, it is a hassle to order them and pick them up for a large portion of campus (my part of campus specifically).  I’m hoping at least one of their locations is convenient to undergraduates.
  • It also means they’re not going to be getting people in denial about having covid or who don’t know they have covid at the beginning of the semester like they have in previous semesters when testing the first two weeks of school was required.  Those cases will also not be reported to the health department like they would have been previously.  Though of course they likely would have just been added to the backlog.
  • Update:  They underestimated demand so are limiting people to one box.
  • DC2 says most of hir teachers are now masked even though they weren’t the first week.  So far there haven’t been many reported student absences at hir school, but there have been several staff members.  Both DC1 and DC2 have reported having a lot of substitutes.
  • DC1’s school has had double digits of new cases every day, but so far it hasn’t been as bad as it was in August.  It’s only been a couple of weeks though.  Update:  then it went to zero for students for a while (but staff still being reported).  But DC1 says students are absent?  The numbers aren’t matching up with the experience.  I’m guessing people aren’t testing/reporting?  Or maybe it really is that everyone got it who was going to get it?  Update:  Numbers went up again.
  • DC2 says that most students don’t wear masks at all and many of the people who do regularly pull them down below their chins.  Zie says zie’s often reminding people to pull them up.  Zie has also handed out a lot of masks to other kids.  DC2’s first period teacher has also started handing out masks.
  • DC1 says more high schoolers are wearing masks than before break.
  • DC1 got a mild headache the day after hir booster.
  • I don’t know if behealthyusa.net is still doing this, but they sent a freebie holiday mask along with our last order.  It had snowmen and pine trees on it.  Very cute.
  • The university has a test positivity rate of around 25%.  That implies that a LOT of cases aren’t being diagnosed.  But the county’s rate is only 10% (which is still not great, but is much lower).  It’s hard to think about who is selecting into these groups when students are out and when the health department is so far behind in its figuring out how many actual cases there are.  What are the county’s numerator and denominator?
  • I read some articles on Long Covid, and some of the symptoms are similar to the aftermath of that horrible virus DH had that made him think he had rabies.  That is, the doctors he saw think that’s what caused nerve damage that led to involuntary muscle twitches.  After 2+ years the twitches are getting less frequent.  I’d also gotten some brain fog from a virus that was long lasting that finally started to go away.  It is really scary feeling less intelligent than usual when your whole identity is pinned on being one of the smart ones and you’re used to being good at remembering and figuring things out and all of a sudden you have to come up with other ways to do things, or give up on doing them at all. (The truly scary bit is not even realizing you’re making mistakes.) Having seen many of my students and RAs suddenly get less intelligent, making mistakes they never would have before, forgetting things right away, etc. is it any wonder I’ve been taking extra precautions for Covid?
  • Rural schools in our county are shutting down because of too many covid cases.  So far the two bigger towns aren’t.  As of the reporting of the article I read about this, 1% of students in our school district are currently covid positive and 2% of the students in the school district next to ours are currently covid positive, based on parental reporting to the schools.  (How much overlap between this and what the health department reports?  Who knows.)  The schools that shut down are more like 8% out with covid.
  • Apparently a large number of my colleagues got Covid over break (according to the dean).  My department head (who didn’t even BRING a mask to our December full day meeting, though zie did take one of mine after I yelled at pretty much everyone) is still sick.  Which explains the lack of beginning of the semester emails.  I’m just surprised it took this long.  Though one of my work friends pointed out that it may be a reinfection.
  • Suddenly faculty meetings are zoom only again and not catered.  So maybe zie is taking covid seriously now?
  • You can order your 4 free at-home covid tests from USPS here.
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RBOC

  • DC1 wanted a Swedish princess cake for hir birthday this year.  We had tried making Marzipan twice earlier this year and both times did not end up with something that would make a good cake cover.  So we decided to bite the bullet and buy marzipan.  Sadly the only local places we could get it sell it in tiny 7 oz tubes, so we had to get four of them and squeeze it out.  I know we have made good marzipan in the past, but we don’t seem to have saved the recipe.
  • Update:  we did not actually need to get 4 of them.  Three would have been fine and we probably could have handled just 2.  We have a lot of marzipan in the fridge now.
  • Swedish princess cake was AMAZING.
  • I know that some people are genuinely picky eaters and have processing disorders and so on.  But I do wish that my MIL and SIL would stop telling specific children that said children hate all vegetables.  Like, when I say, would you like some green bean casserole, they could just keep their mouths shut and let the kid answer rather than saying, oh, X hates all vegetables.  I didn’t like most vegetables until I was 15 or 16, but I kept an open mind and tried things.  If I didn’t, I’d never have known that my tastes changed.  It’s not just one kid, it is three kids (ironically the fourth kid actually does have a feeding disorder and eats lots of fruits and vegetables via purees).  My kids have different vegetable likes and dislikes, and with a few exceptions (DC1 has never liked tomatoes, and DC2 doesn’t like the concept of mushrooms), those likes and dislikes have changed through their lives.
  • DC2 actually really loves most vegetables.  I suspect this is connected to hir dislike of most milk products (zie likes ice cream and a very small number of cheeses– I also only liked a small number of cheeses as a kid and now I love everything except goat cheese, but I drank a lot of milk because the pediatrician was worried about me being small and skinny, which DC2 does not do).
  • DC1 tends to eat most vegetables only under duress, but (at age 15 minus a few days) noted that Brussels sprouts (covered in bacon sauce, which zie was obligated to try) aren’t so bad.
  • The in-laws had forgotten that DC2 likes vegetables– the first couple meals we had at their place were uniformly beige in color, though DC2 did eat a lot of mashed potatoes.  The Brussels sprouts came later on in the trip after they remembered.  MIL loves them, but doesn’t usually get to eat them.
  • It’s crazy to think that when we were DC1’s age, we were a year away from trying Thai food for the first time and several years away from Indian food and Sushi.  Home-style Korean didn’t come until graduate school!  Many of DC1’s favorite cuisines and almost all the healthy food that DC1 enjoys were things we didn’t try until we were older than zie is now.  Zie had hir first sushi (veggie/cooked) and Thai etc. before zie could hold a fork!  And I lived on Indian food while pregnant with DC2 because of the wheat allergy.  I wonder what other new foods we will get to try in our future.  I think Poke is our most recent new thing, and that’s from like 6 years ago.  Man I love food.
  • Because of my toasted C drive (more on that later– I bumped the post to a later week) I finally moved into DH’s hand-me-down desktop computer which is a lovely Alienware.  Lots of things that didn’t work before now just work and everything seems faster.  One problem is that the Alienware has a slanted top so we have had to put a box on its side next to the case to hold my external harddrive because it kept slipping off.
  • I do not like my BIL’s MIL.  The first time I met her, a decade and a half ago, she was making my BIL’s fiance (now wife) miserable with her stressing out about the wedding and her insistence on everything being a specific way even though she was paying for none of it.  I later found out that she’d promised to pay for the expensive wedding dress she’d insisted on but then didn’t and BIL and his wife were in debt because of it for a while (plus it took a while for her parents to admit it, so there were fees and interest tacked on).  This time she ended up sitting next to me at Christmas dinner and started complaining about poor people mismanaging their money and what Judge Judy has to say about them.  And she gossiped a lot about her extended family and how terrible they are at raising children and how their three year olds (!) are horrible and are going to grow up to be horrible.  When I said I didn’t like to pass judgment on how people who are worse off than I am spend their money because I can’t understand their problems, she said she could because she has been poor (and then we played the who had a poorer parent game– I think I won because my dad is 5’2″ and grew up in a literal warzone/the Depression).  I did not remind her of her poor monetary behavior in the past which DH later said was very good of me, though I did lecture a little bit about public finance and public policy which apparently Judge Judy does not understand AT ALL.  Fortunately when DH showed up she stopped having her comfortable coze with me and started asking him about his job and whether he was going to be doing all of the driving back.  (“No, we’ll be splitting it,” he said.  “It’s my car!” I piped up.  And then we noted DC1 will probably help with the driving next year if we drive.  She did not approve.)
  • But it could be worse– not a word about Mexicans (which was the big thing I was always correcting one of DH’s grandmas on, reminding her about their essential humanity, though she always accepted the correction and added on to it– she knew because she was a teacher and did remember that Hispanic kids are people– she had one of those racisms where she liked every individual she met and saw them as individual persons, but as a group she quoted conservative talk radio), and not a word about Trump or liberals etc.  Apparently BIL’s wife made her stop doing that in company ages ago.
  • I do like BIL’s wife quite a bit.  We have similar taste in reading.  She’s the one who I miss exchanging presents with now that we’re doing kids only.
  • That’s probably enough of me being catty about people I’m related to by marriage.  I wonder what they say when they gossip about me.  (Actually, I suspect I would rather not know!)

RBOC

  • There is just too much death.  There has been too much death.  The best teacher at DC1’s school has been absent all year because of some unnamed illness that put him in a coma (he was the one that got covid last year shortly after we saw unmasked people in his class) and seemed to be recovering but then suddenly died.  Our department secretary’s father died of Covid a few months ago and she’s left employment though we weren’t told why.  Our administrative assistant under her lost her father and almost lost her brother to Covid a bit before that.  Her husband had a heart attack a couple years ago and just got a heart transplant, but it didn’t take so now he’s in hospice.  So much tragedy in such a small amount of time.  I have a big box of sympathy cards now but I’m tired of sending them.  So many tears.  Life is so precious.
  • I want good things for everyone except people who hurt other people.  And for those people I want their power taken away.
  • I don’t believe in zero sum games for most things.  I prefer rising tides that lift all boats to shrinking pies.
  • DC2 (who is allergic to red dye or something red dye adjacent and also apparently caramel color) threw up twice over break.  The first time we traced to the seasoning FIL put on broccoli (DC2 LOVES broccoli) and the second time we assume was the take-out we got from a Mediterranean place.
  • I thought I would have plenty of time to myself during this most recent Christmas vacation with the in-laws but boy was I wrong.  Completely forgot how having toddlers around means there’s no time for any adults.
  • Also 6 hours is a lot of driving in the middle of a holiday (from MIL to AirBNB and back again).  I underestimated that.
  • There was definitely not room in the AirBNB for MIL’s extended family on top of SIL’s family (2 adults + 4 kids) and our respective families (2 adults, 2 adults + 2 kids).  And with all the kids there not yet having gotten exercise I was seriously worried something was going to get broken.  If we host all of those kids next year I think we’ll have to go for one of the big farmhouse retreats outside that city.
  • Some gas stations had a lot of people masked and some gas stations had nobody masked.
  • DH met one of his relatives outside and masked when we were first at MIL’s.  While we were gone at the AirBNB his relative got really sick for one day, sore throat, fatigue, etc.  And then his (adult) son living with him got the same thing and was still sick with it when DH met with the relative again at the end of our trip (also outside and masked).  They’re both vaccinated and triple boosted, but were not aware that those were the Omicron symptoms for vaccinated people.  We should have given them a couple of home tests, but DH didn’t put that information together until after he’d left and the relative had gone off to visit more relatives (most of whom are unvaccinated but got Delta over Thanksgiving).
  • I assume with both kids back in school there’s no way of avoiding Omicron, but at least we can try to avoid spreading it to other kids whose parents are selfishly not letting them get vaccinated for whatever reason.
  • I bought 100 BOTN masks because they were on a massive sale ($1/each) but only if you buy 100.  I handed out a bunch of them and was a little astonished that it isn’t mainstream knowledge about how well KF94 work, especially compared to cloth masks.  I was also astonished about how appreciative people have been about the two (one black, one white) I’ve given them–I assumed people would just think I was weird like my colleagues clearly do.  I was less astonished that people didn’t know you can reuse them and use them for at least 40 hours because I didn’t know that until recently either.
  • I think our current plan for the kids is to have them in paper masks (BOTN KF94 medium for DC1, a variety pack of options for DC2 until zie finds one zie likes best, I’m guessing the Tiger KF94, but we have several other types to get through) until the omicron wave dies down and then they can go back to Enro (which is waaaay less effective than paper masks, according to Aaron Collins) once they’re back to 0 new cases per week.
  • On day 2 of staying with us, the cousin closest to DC2’s age definitely had some sort of upper respiratory thing and wasn’t that careful about nasal fluids.  (Also both toddlers had drippy noses because toddlers have drippy noses.)  After we got home, DC2 developed a sore throat.  We have covid tests so we could just test, but I don’t want to waste a test on a false negative.  After talking it over with a friend who keeps up on this stuff, she pointed out that if DC2 isn’t going anywhere and we’re not planning on going anywhere, and DC2 continues to have mild cold-level symptoms, and we’ve already all been exposed to whatever it is and won’t isolate a 9 year old, then having a diagnosis doesn’t actually matter.  So we will wait to test.
  • The last time our health department reported county-level covid rates was December 22nd.  At that time we had been doubling case numbers for I think 4 days in a row.  They just don’t report numbers during vacation.  When they get back, they will have a backlog of reports to sort out but they will not do it quickly (because they had a backlog of over 1000 cases a couple months ago).  I wonder how many other local health departments are in this situation.  So much inaccuracy in data collection.  (Also our county cut the number of people working on pandemic data and information dispersal early on so we also don’t get updated numbers on weekends.)
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RBOC

  • My sister just got another pay raise and promotion.  Starting in January she’s going back to engineering (she was in middle-management) working on carbon capture.  She was making more money than I do before (even though she’s younger and only has a BA), but now she’s making WAY more money.
  • I don’t know anybody else who knows what their own siblings make.  I know how much my sister makes and I know my MIL/FIL’s financial situation because both my sister and my FIL ask me for retirement savings/investing advice.  I don’t give stock tips, but I provide general Bogleheads level advice!  My FIL (a retired accountant) really seems to enjoy talking money with me, though he doesn’t know how much we make.
  • It sounds like she and her boyfriend are talking children.  I was like, oh good, we can finally get rid of our heirloom kids’ stuff.  I’ve been keeping quiet because that’s not a good reason to have kids, but definitely let us know when they’re on their way and we will give you high quality wooden Things.
  • Though I did dig out some of the old toddler toys for DC1 to use as fidget spinners.  The other day I removed a pen from hir hands that zie was destroying and replaced it with a fidget toy.  Just like we would do 14 or so years ago!  But now zie is taller than I am instead of small.
  • I found out that the anti-masker whose office is next to mine (and who told a student to report me to the associate dean for saying not to “both sides” the first presidential debate last year) is a member of a sons of the confederacy organization that has ties to white supremacists.  Which really isn’t a surprise.  What was a surprise is that I didn’t know about this already.
  • Some people who belong to this organization say they want to honor their confederate grandfathers who fought for what they believed in.  So… I have a (European) grandfather who was a Nazi sympathizer.  I reject him.  My sympathies are with his sister-in-law (my great aunt) who I never met because she died in a concentration camp.   And no, I don’t see how honoring your confederate forefathers is *any different* than honoring Nazi forefathers.  I’m sure I could belong to Daughters of the Confederacy if I wanted to– we certainly have enough ancestors who moved around that I’m sure some of them were on the wrong side.  But I’d rather go with the DAR if I were going to go with anything (which I’m not).  Because we should reject and shun our racist enslaving ancestors, not honor them.  Honoring people who fought to enslave other people is terrible.
  • I would like to say the above bullet to my colleague but I probably never will.  If it ever comes up I certainly will though.
  • Why isn’t there a Daughters of the Union Army?  Maybe because we all have lives and jobs and aren’t invested in increasing systemic oppression?
  • I guess there is?   And this page too too.
  • I like getting Christmas letters.  I know it’s popular to rag on them, but I like them a lot.  Also I’m not on Facebook so it’s generally new information for me.  I like it when friends’ years have gone well and I like seeing pictures, even if it makes me feel old.  We don’t do Christmas letters ourselves, but if you do, they are appreciated!
  • DH and I both got Pfizer boosters.  Team mix and match!  DH had zero side effects, unlike with the Moderna booster.  I think I had zero side effects too, though I’m generally a little extra tired on Saturday mornings so who knows.
  • We went separately for boosters but got our flu shots together.  All three appointments there were people getting their first Covid shots.  For some reason I find people who are getting their first shots now to be super impressive.  They had a year and change’s worth of BS that they had to fight against to make an appointment and get that shot.
  • Particularly impressive:  At my booster appointment, we were running behind a bit because when I got there the pharmacist was patiently convincing a woman who was there for a Shingles vaccine to also get her first Covid shot.  He answered all her questions and she was completely convinced.  Well worth the wait, I think.  He was also encouraging people to add on flu-shots to their Covid boosters, though many people had decided to do both already.  (He asked me and I said I’d already gotten mine.)  It is fantastic that so many people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten flu shots are.  I’m glad they are allowing them to be given together.
  • I wish everybody had the ability to read and understand and evaluate research papers.
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RBOC

  • DC1’s piano teacher told us DC1 has surpassed her playing ability and we should get another teacher if zie wants to continue improving (she’s happy to keep hir on if zie just wants suggestions for what to play next).  We’re not sure what to do about that because piano is sustainable with 15 min of practice a day and more for fun on weekends or when stressed but zie might stop liking it if zie had to do more and it could interfere with schoolwork.  If zie were willing to compete then there might be something for college applications, but zie is just doing it for fun.  We’ll have to see what DC1 thinks.  I stopped lessons in high school because I no longer had time.
  • I do think DC1 might benefit from learning how to play accompaniment– that could be a useful way to pick up some additional money in college.  Also I have visions in my head of DC2 playing the violin and DC1 at the piano and it being adorable.
  • We have somehow become those parents whose children refer to them by their first names.  Growing up I always thought that was weird when other kids did it.  But I guess we’re in that liberal hippie aging yuppie demo.  DC1 will still say “my Dad” or “my Mom” when talking with friends, though zie uses our names when talking with us, but DC2 has gone straight first name.  (Hir friends on Minecraft after a long absence are like, “Who is [DH’s firstname]?”)
  • I got invited to be a member of an extremely prestigious professional association whose goal is kind of tangential to my research… I mean, there is some overlap, but this is not an honor that was even on my radar.  DH says it’s imposter syndrome, but I’m still pretty mystified about it.  The invitation letter didn’t explain anything and it wasn’t from anybody that I know, but apparently someone thought I fit well enough that they nominated me and a committee agreed with them(!)  I did look over their current membership and recognized people I know whose work has overlap with mine, but I would also argue that they work more in that specific area (and are really amazing in their own right).
  • As a break, we had DC2 copy out poems from hir poetry coloring book (one children’s poem a day) in nice cursive and then read them aloud to DH.  It turns out that DC2 didn’t know how to read aloud a poem– zie just rushed through as quickly as possible.  So… I guess that’s another new thing we’ve taught in DH’s and my worst subject.  (Though I suspect we’re not bad at English so much as we don’t always fit with specific English teacher’s specific subjective views and never completely figure it out.)
  • The grocery store was having a sale on Alfredo sauce and I was tempted but then I remember how whenever I make it from scratch I’m always surprised both by how easy it is to make and how much better it is than the jarred stuff.  And yet I don’t.  Which is probably healthy, but if I’d never made Alfredo before I’d just buy a jar when it was on sale and instead I don’t have any Alfredo at all.
  • Our Covid numbers are still pretty high— somewhere between 10 and 20 new cases per 100k but this is so much lower than the 100s of cases we were getting back in September that people feel like the pandemic is over.  But it’s not.
  • It does sound like the university will be forced to require vaccines and masks next semester if we want to keep federal grants.  Despite our state government.  Just in time for Omicron to hit!
  • Twitter seems to think that making it difficult for me to see tweets without logging in will somehow get me to sign up.  Jokes on them– it is helping to break my addiction!  If it keeps up, maybe my attention span and productivity will increase.
  • DH thinks we should probably stay masked indoors over vacation with his family.  So I bought a cute holiday mask for each of us from enro.com (not sponsored), and then some disposable holiday masks from behealthyusa.net (which imports KF94 and is also not sponsored).
  • The weather forecast suddenly changed right before Thanksgiving so we had to do it indoors.  I cranked the heat up and opened the windows in the dining room and we kept the fan on.  I also positioned DC1’s air filter near our two guests (who I clustered away from the windows I put DC2 directly in front of the windows).  And we wore masks when not actually eating.  Overkill?  I don’t know, but DC2 didn’t get hir second vaccine shot until Sunday and somewhere I’d read that zie was probably only about 30% protected (though I don’t remember what the numerator or denominator on that 30% was).
  • DC2 got hir second vaccine shot!
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RBOC

  • BIL is hosting Christmas.  Turns out that BIL’s MIL isn’t vaccinated.  Said MIL is being super obnoxious about it and is complaining that BIL’s mom is forcing them to get vaccinated, but BIL’s wife (his MIL’s daughter) is like, no, I’m forcing you to get vaccinated if you want to do Christmas with us.  I had not even thought about this being a potential danger.  So we said that BIL’s wife could add our voices to the we will not be doing Christmas at BIL’s if someone there is not vaccinated.  We haven’t stayed away from our families this long just to get Covid from some relative’s relative.
  • It’s also ridiculous because said woman works at Walmart and is going to have to get vaccinated to keep her job at some point ANYWAY.
  • We’re not entirely sure that SIL’s husband is vaccinated either, but he literally just got over covid (along with 2/4 of the kids) so we assume he’ll still have antibodies.  I would hope that he got vaccinated because their two youngest were preemies.  SIL certainly got vaccinated as soon as she could.
  • The really obnoxious people who live across the street from us (backwards, so our back yards are across the street) have installed a permanent Tump flag.  Apparently they also never took their Trump sign down in their front yard.  They also play super loud music and are constantly burning things.
  • I often wonder if we should install a flagpole and put in the American flag and a rainbow flag.
  • DH’s relative’s kid is 3 courses away from finishing her associates degree.  Unfortunately she put off 3 hard gen ed classes to this semester and just… stopped going mid-semester.  (We didn’t pay for this semester because there was some kind of pandemic program that paid for books and classes.)  She has since separated from her newly married husband, given away her dog, left her two cats with DH’s relative, and moved across the country to live with her older (half-) sisters, their children, and their biological mom and said bio-mom’s other children.  So… we’re back to 0 for 5 on paying for higher education.  The smart second daughter now has 5 kids and manages a drugstore across the country, but no secondary education.  The legally blind son did get his disability application approved.
  • DC2 finished Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry last week.  I think both zie and DH learned a lot from it.  It’s hard to express… like, the villain is white supremacy but also (SPOILERS) this Black boy named TJ who is both a villain and a victim.  And DH was like, you spend a lot of the book hoping he’ll get punished and then he gets punished and you’re like, but not in that way.  I didn’t mean that.  Not like that.  DC2 really identified with the protagonist.  And had hir eyes opened to the unfairness of it all.  It’s not something DC2 or DH would have read on their own.  It’s a slice of life and ends unsettled.  The author (Mildred Taylor) is extremely good.  (After reading it in 5th grade, I did check the rest of the books in the series out of the library.  DC2 isn’t sure if zie wants to do that or not.  We do randomly own one of the books in the series already.)
  • Now they’re doing the Phantom Tollbooth which I think is going well?  It’s much easier than Roll of Thunder and they’re zipping through 2-3 chapters a day.  Next up is A Christmas Carol and after that I’m out of ideas.  We have The Westing Game but DC2 is NOT interested.  We’ll probably just do short stories and maybe some more poetry until winter break. (We also did From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Tuck Everlasting, In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, and Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nimh along with poetry and junior great books short stories.)
  • I understand more now why so much of our grades 3-12 reading was reading these great books from different genres.  DC2 has grown so much this semester, even just in terms of critically reading and being able to summarize chapters and pull out the important bits.  There really is a lot to be gotten out of reading and critically thinking about and discussing works of literature.  And it is terrible that they really don’t do that in this school district.  Or only do it in high school with terrible books like a separate peace.
  • I feel a little guilty that we’ve stuck with things that I read in school (though they’re still being taught in California according to the web searching I did at the start of this project).  But DC2 has read most of the newer Newberry medal books on hir own last year because we were checking them out of the library from newest to oldest.  So we could go more into depth in them with questions, but maybe not gotten as much out of them as we have been with the older works I’m more familiar with but DC2 hadn’t read.  It’s also harder to find complete lesson plans for the newer stuff online– the older books usually have several choices from schools across the country.  (Plus I think they will eventually read Holes and Number the Stars later in school if we stay here.)
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RBOC

  • It’s amazing how much work stuff there is to do that’s not actually research.  Service and teaching (rec letters, commenting on PhD student papers etc.) just fills up time!
  • Poor DC2 had a stomach ache and we were trying to figure out what zie had eaten (zie throws up after eating red dye and also apparently caramel color) or how zie could possibly have gotten sick without having left the house/neighborhood in months.  Then zie tearfully confessed that the Naruto manga zie had been reading online had a naked woman in it and zie felt guilty which was causing said stomach ache.  Zie had also deleted the ipad’s entire history (meaning I had to re-input my logins which was a PAIN) to hide the manga.  We were like… people in other countries often aren’t as concerned with nudity as people in the US are, so when you read or watch stuff this will sometimes happen.  And stuff for adults sometimes has this.  It’s not a big deal, though other kids’ parents might think it’s a big deal, so don’t share it with them until you’re old enough. (But also if someone touches you in those places, do tell us because it’s your body but you’re too young to consent.)  People have bodies. You do not have to read this stuff — it’s written for older people.  Also, next time you feel the need to hide that you’ve been looking at a webpage on the ipad, please look up how to delete an individual webpage, not an entire history.
  • Also I had no idea that the Naruto manga got racy– I last read it 20ish years ago when they were still just kids!  Apparently they grew up and had kids of their own(!)  And they’ve got the stupid trope of the hero’s son being a terror, which I guess is more believable about Naruto’s son than it was about Kenshin’s.
  • DC2 (age 9) got hir first vaccine shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We also got hir flu shot at the same time.
  • The rest of us still need to get our flu shots.  Usually we do it on Black Friday morning (because nobody is at the Walgreens pharmacy then) but this year my sister wants Thanksgiving on Black Friday so maybe DH and I will do it the Wednesday before?  But I’m not sure when to have DC1 get it.  It looks like zie has the entire week off for break, so maybe earlier in the week.
  • I also wonder when we should get our Covid boosters (DH and I are both Moderna/Moderna so it’s not urgent).  I’ll probably put it off until December though there is a temptation to do it after my last class that week and then to be too sick to help clean the house.  But I should help clean the house.
  • Since supply chain issues means that everyone wants Christmas season to start early this year and we’re almost done with holiday shopping (usually I do it all from the couch on Thanksgiving or Black Friday after the guests have gone or my sister is entertaining the kids) I’ve decided to allow the kids to play holiday music if they want and introduced DC1 to the holiday music stream from performance today (DC1 is *really* into classical music).  There is some American music for Thanksgiving on the particular stream DC1 picked and DC1 was a bit confused about how Appalachian Spring is a Thanksgiving piece.  I suggested that maybe it’s the water kind of spring (zie did not buy that).  But really it’s just that it’s an Americana piece so it gets trotted out on the 4th of July and Thanksgiving, I guess.
  • I’m really tempted to buy a rosemary tree.  Our outdoor rosemary all died probably because it was too wet this year.  :/  But I don’t want to mail order a super expensive one.  And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
  • While looking at Christmas candy yesterday, I realized that Dove is both a chocolate brand and a soap brand.  Don’t get the two mixed up!

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RBOC

  • DC1 is currently in the top 4% of hir class.  Not quite ranked #2 like my friend’s son in the class above but not so bad for a 14 year old junior who keeps getting Bs in English.
  • By not being in my office much and not traveling at all (other than that one seminar) and not being in *charge* of any service responsibilities for a change, I have a lot more time to do work.  The problem is that it is hard to fill all that space with the brain-power and motivation to do actual work.  I think I am getting more done than I usually do but it just doesn’t *feel* like I am.  Of course, there’s also homeschooling DC2, which while not as disruptive as students or colleagues does take mental power.
  • I really need a new chair for my home office– after I added a purple pillow to help my nether regions, my old Aeron started doing a number on my back and we couldn’t figure out how to not do that, so I traded with DC1 and have a 2-position dorm-style chair (meaning you can easily lean back, no wheels), but sadly it has started to get uncomfortable.  I would get a copy of the fancy chair I have at work (a hand-me-down from an administrator when my ancient office chair literally fell into pieces), except it’s $1000+ and I still need to ball up a cardigan to get enough lumbar support.
  • New reported Covid cases are back down to the single digits and there have only been a handful at K-12.  We had a choice to either start DC2 back in regular school the second week of November (presumably after zie has had a single shot) or in January.  After some discussion we decided to go with January as being less disruptive and we wouldn’t have to worry about people bringing things home from Thanksgiving.
  • I sure hope the university requires that we all do testing before break again, either Thanksgiving or Winter break.  I have to wonder how much of the low numbers we’re currently having are real and how much are just people not getting tests.  My classes sound like a preschool with all the upper-respiratory stuff going on.  (Have they been tested?  I’m not allowed to ask!)
  • With the lower number of cases I wonder if I should try to go chair shopping.  I should probably still wait until DC2 has been fully vaccinated.
  • Update: false alarm:  we were back to high double digits of cases immediately after the lull
  • Now they’re varying between single digits and high double digits.  I wonder if people are no longer getting tested.
  • pretty much nobody is wearing masks anywhere anymore.  Is that rational?
  • my students are getting sick from all sorts of things.  Lots of strep throat this year which is bizarre.
  • None of my family (even DH) had read the phantom tollbooth which is unbelievable to me.  But it turns out DC1’s bookcase doesn’t have my old copy and nobody but me read it in school (Surely you’ve seen the movie, I exclaimed, it was on tv all the time!). I discovered this because DH was remarking on how much both kids love reading and rereading A barrel of laughs, a vale of tears and he wondered if he would like it.  And I said it was very like a James Thurber book (but less sexist) and did he like those.  He didn’t know, so I said, sort of in the style of Phantom Tollbooth, but not as close to that as to Thurber and DH had no idea what I was talking about.  So first I put one of the many library copies on our list but then realized no I needed us to have our own copy.  I caught DC1 reading it on the couch.
  • I literally just now realized that the author of a barrel of laughs was the illustrator of tollbooth.  (!)
  • DC1 couldn’t handle Goosebumps but DC2 is devouring the incredibly gruesome Grimm trilogy by Adam Gidwitz.  I am more like DC1!
  • DC2 has really been doing a lot of stuff independently during hir free-time.  Hir Spanish has improved a lot via overcome the barrier + watching shows in Spanish (currently Hilda and Netflix movies, previously Garfield and Captain Underpants) and reading books in Spanish.  Zie has also been doing science experiments and random crafts (the other day zie sewed together a medium-sized pillow out of nowhere, zie also picked and pressed a number of wildflowers) as well as art via youtube tutorial. There really is a lot of time wasted in K-12 regular school.  But we knew that.
  • we go to the library 3x/week to replenish DC2’s stash (we’re only allowed to have 25 books out at a time).  This week they recognized me and noted I always get there at the same time as their shipment from the other library.
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RBOC

  • I hadn’t updated our net worth calculations in I don’t know how long.  (I literally do not know how long– if I did this would probably be a full post instead of a bullet).  But, since the time I updated it, it has increased 50%, meaning that it was X before but now it is 1.5 X.  The stock market alone seems to have been responsible for much of the increase.
  • The reason I updated things was because I was curious to see what our stock portfolio looks like in terms of stocks/bonds/etc.  It’s mostly stocks.  There’s some bonds.  My accounts that are just Target Date funds and my university Fidelity account are both currently ~85% stocks and 15% bonds.  The rest… pretty heavily stock.  Mostly US stock (though both Target Date and university Fidelity accounts have emerging markets and foreign markets).  Some accounts are entirely S&P 500 because that’s the lowest fee in an otherwise high fee work account.  So I think I need to focus on adding more foreign markets and emerging markets, and maybe more munis.
  • My father has been sending increasingly deranged emails.  (Most recently he sent DH a very fragmented email that seemed to be telling DH that DH had to contact my father NOW in order to protect my children from their narcissistic mother, aka me.  We think that’s what it was saying, anyway. Previous emails have attacked my mother and sister as gaslighting or narcissists etc.  Once he cc’d the author of a book on narcissism.) But he’s refused to get an evaluation and my mother won’t force him to.  She’s also somewhat in denial or attributes it all to a potential stroke he may have had a few years ago.  They are adults, and my mother still seems to be in full control of her faculties, so not really anything my sister or I can do at this point.
  • One of my colleagues says his age 80+ mother is engaged to a much younger man (like 50+ years younger) that she met online who seems to be interested in her money.  I will probably end up not getting an inheritance but at least the money my parents have saved is likely to either go to my sister or to actually worthy charities and not someone who preys on older women.
  • My MIL has started Christmas shopping already.  I just got a copy of Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny’s new book from her!  (Also, fairly clear she’s ignoring the “kids only” rule, but as long as we don’t tell SIL nobody need know. We’re either getting her a sewing machine or we’re taking her newish memories book to the local printer to get copies for the kids, depending on if she’s finished filling out the memories book yet or not.)
  • We have zero idea what to get for DC1 for Christmas + Birthday.  At first we were like, how about a ukelele, but then realized zie probably doesn’t want one given zie hardly has enough time for piano, violin, and theramin as it is!  I have fidget stuff on hir wishlist for relatives and a few fiction books, but we’re mostly drawing blanks.  We may have to resort to SAT prep and AP prep guides.  There’s always money, but it would be like, “Here’s $100” then a few days later “Here’s another $100!” and zie doesn’t actually use it.
  • Speaking of AP exams, DC1 is taking 4 AP classes this year.  Zie is probably not going to take the Physics 1 AP because zie will be taking Mechanics and E&M next year.  Zie will have to decide about Spanish soon.  Zie will definitely be taking the BC calc exam.  Then there’s psychology… It’s hard to know what is optimal for a junior whose scores might affect college admissions positively or negatively.  It seems ridiculous to decide these things Fall semester when the exams are pretty late Spring semester.
  • I’m not really sure how DC1 ended up so not consumerist.  DH likes shopping more than actually owning/using.  DC2 is delighted with new things. I’m a bit of a pack rat. But DC1 is just a natural minimalist.  Zie also listens to hir hunger and will stop eating say, an ice cream, if full.  Zie has been this way since a baby.
  • I bought more pens I didn’t need from jetpens and I’m really enjoying them.  These vintage color Sarasa pens from Jetpens (not an affiliate, I’m just addicted) are perfect for writing postcards to voters this fall.  VIP Voters in Ohio got in the Blue-black this past week.