Plague, Day 17, March 20, 2020

10 am — There’s a guy on my Facebook page, who says that the virus can be cured by breathing in the steam from a pot of boiling water.

As we all hunker down in our bunkers, cancel our house cleaners, and avoid restaurants, we must turn to Martha Stewart to remind us how to fold fitted sheets and make a nice lasagna. (Buy her stock, btw.)

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) proposed a provision in the stimulus bill that would wave the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for 1 year.

When federal bailout money is distributed, don’t forget parents — alright, mostly mothers — who have to quit jobs, take salary cuts, put in 18-hour unpaid hours, because schools & childcare are closed. Esp. parents of disabled kids. This isn’t a fun playdate at home.

My college kid, who had planned to spend this spring break week in Alaska, has been very helpful and surprisingly philosophical about these changes, until last night, when he snuck out to have drinks at a friend’s house. He put the uber payment on our credit card, so he was awoken at 8am to screaming parents. He’ll be scrubbing the entire house today. Perhaps he’ll be enlisted in the Coast Guard later, too.

We’re settling into the new normal. Steve puts in a normal day 8 – 6, but at here in the home office. My work world is incredibly busy and incredibly unpaid. Ian’s home school experience is improving, mostly because I am totally uninvolved, and the teachers are too afraid of me to send me anymore emails.. I have some thoughts about what’s going on in public education, but I might write that up for another newsletter.

I’m going to post some pantry staple recipes soon.

37 thoughts on “Plague, Day 17, March 20, 2020

  1. I’m honestly not surprised to hear this about Jonah. (His late night escapade) I heard similar from friends who have college age kids at home. My friend in Ohio told her son to just go back to the house he shares with 3 other guys from Kent State because she didn’t want him bringing sickness home.

    On another note, my 30 something friends who live with roommates are cynical about the social distancing thing because in each household there is a mix of people who can work from home and who have to go to work. How do you manage when your roommate is a barista/nurse/Lyft driver/group home counselor to stay safe?

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  2. Marianne said, “My friend in Ohio told her son to just go back to the house he shares with 3 other guys from Kent State because she didn’t want him bringing sickness home.”

    Not unreasonable.

    “My friend in Ohio told her son to just go back to the house he shares with 3 other guys from Kent State because she didn’t want him bringing sickness home.”

    That is a problem.

    And it’s even an issue for families with minor children and at least one parent in health care.

    Before school closed, that was a transmission belt that I was very concerned about: doctor or nurse mom or dad gets coronavirus at work, kid gets it, kid passes it on at school, wash, rinse, repeat.

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    1. My sister is an NP in cardiology. They’ve reduced their patient visits to only the most necessary but she still needs to go in. (She only works 2 days a week so that helps). Other than good hygiene there’s not much more she can do. At least she had vacation scheduled for spring break so she gets that off.

      I wonder if teenagers and early 20 something’s could benefit from outdoor meetups of some sort to fill the need for socializing. A few local fitness classes have moved outside to the various parks (Denver has great parks). My sister’s daughter is running with a friend and they stop at a park and sit appropriately distanced and chat each day. Girls may be better at rule following than boys though. But I was thinking, what if Jonah and his friend met up in one of their backyards for a few beers? Would that be too risky? Each bringing their own drinks and no coming in to use bathrooms but young men are used to using the outdoors (ugh).

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    2. I agree that intentional meetups are necessary (or there will be break outs) and think the outdoor chatting/drinking could work. I’ve let kiddo go out to kick a soccer ball around and toss a frisbee (I asked for purelling before and after, and am a bit nervous about it).

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  3. In Pennsylvania, they closed all businesses that are not essential to life. Somehow this means that the liquor stores are closed and auto repair shops aren’t. People have really counter-intuitive definitions of essential.

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      1. I’m rationing the wine by substituting liquor for all drinks outside dinner. We have enough liquor to last until two and two makes three.

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    1. Can someone explain this booze thing to me? I am feeling my non-white suburban upbringing in listening to the joking, which does not really make sense to me. I only drink when I am eating out. What role does wine/beer/liquor play in the day?

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      1. Drinking at home, ideally with meals and after working hours, is really common. I don’t think of it as particularly white and I know it’s not limited to suburbs. I think it’s becoming less common in the middle class than it was when I was a kid, but I had a couple of drinks every day until my stomach rebelled. Now I’m not drinking, which means I don’t drink everyday but sometimes go get drunk.

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  4. I have S in a hotel room till Sunday morning, and then I will have to make some decisions. Y’all want to help? Keep in mind that she left Spain on Sunday, spent Sunday night in London, flew to Boston, spent Monday night in Boston, then has been in our town in the hotel since Tuesday afternoon. 5 nights (Tues-Sat) in hotel.So basically, she should be in quarantine from Tues Mar 17 to Tues Mar 31, and today is only the 20th.

    Do I:
    1. Pay for another 9 nights in the hotel?
    2. Bring her home where we have a shared bathroom and the 3 bedrooms are all up on the second floor of a smallish cape?
    3. Send her to Ithaca, where most of her friends are staying, but … college students, so social distancing is not their strong point?

    Also, either my husband or me (or both) would have to drive her, thus exposing ourselves to her.
    Also, after assuring me that she would be thrilled to be in a hotel for 5 days, this morning she told me she is bored. However, her temp is still in the 98 range, which is promising. On the other hand, these Gen Z scalawags are often non-symptomatic carriers.

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      1. Laura said, “Can she get tested? They started drive through tests here for high risk people.”

        Yeah, as testing gets more widespread, it should be easier to resolve this stuff.

        You might actually (as with Marianne’s friend) want to send her back to her people in Ithaca for the next several months, as it may be hard to “social distance” together. It makes more sense for people of the same risk tolerance level/risk level to go through it together.

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      2. You might actually (as with Marianne’s friend) want to send her back to her people in Ithaca for the next several months, as it may be hard to “social distance” together. It makes more sense for people of the same risk tolerance level/risk level to go through it together.

        Except so far, groups of young adults seem to believe they’re immortal and impervious to infection.

        If it were me, I’d bring her home on Sunday morning, but I’m a softy. They say average of 5 days to showing symptoms. She runs a risk of catching it at the hotel. You run a risk of catching it grocery shopping, without her germs at all.

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    1. Tough one, but, I’ll note not enormously different (or maybe not different at all) then if she were in coming back from college (like mine & Laura’s). The virus is here, not isolated in Europe.

      Mine wanted to come back — she’s a freshman, her friends are freshman, and they were kicked out of her dorm. Also, our house is big and easy to live in (and she doesn’t have to pay for anything). We did not segregate ourselves from her. We have been segregating ourselves from my parents since she arrived, but that is also because of my rising anxiety. If anyone becomes covid+ in our house, we do have the ability to isolate them in house.

      A senior at UBC I know in British Columbia is staying there and I can imagine circumstances where her going to friends could be a reasonable option, but it depends on her, friends, you, . . . . I am personally strangely satisfied to have my children trapped in my house with me (which I do not celebrate, but acknowledge). But, it’s possible to practice a lot of social distancing in our house, my kiddos have been pretty reasonable, and they are helping out (older just cooked breakfast for younger this morning).

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    2. We have ours up in her bedroom with its own bathroom, so far she is being compliant. She gets room service! We have not been really obsessive about this, and probably we ought to be.

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  5. We need to keep a running tally of most hopeless remote learning ideas.

    My senior just got word from her choir teacher that the choir teacher is going to provide them recordings to practice with…home alone. I expect that this means that the choir teacher is in the “denial” stage of grief with regard to the big choir contest they were supposed to be participating in.

    Here’s hoping that the 9th grader’s handbell teacher (who may be the same person) knows when to say die.

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    1. Sounds kind of like the varsity rowers in my son’s rowing team. Well, they were worse. But, their hearts are broken, to see the disappearance of their senior season. Some will be rowing in college and want to stay fit. We know a couple of rowers who were, at least in their dreams, Olympic hopefuls.

      My kiddo has been doing his guitar lessons via facetime, and that is working well enough and adds some structure to his time. I can see singing, practice, and then connecting via zoom/google meetups/facetime being a good way to keep music going. But, that’s if you find music a well filler rather than drainer. I am not a singer or a music lover myself, but I would still love it enormously if we started the sing outside your house activity (like Italy). I’ve tried to convince my son, but he hasn’t been willing. And, his other friends are currently doing full time school via zoom.

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    1. Schools love that stuff. We were assigned A Clockwork Orange and 1984. Both disturbed me but as and adolescent I ate it up.

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      1. I have wine and beer but I went to the liquor store today. Gin, I need martinis. My neighbor and I made a pact. They like vodka, I like gin. I have vodka, but only use it for pastry making. They have gin, but only use it for company. If it comes down to it, we’ll swap by leaving it on the curb.

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      2. If you can’t get rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy, you can always go to the liquor store and get Everclear!

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  6. I love all these stories about kids doing guitar, hand bells, book assignments, etc. because my kids are doing JACK SHIT. We’ve decided that this week is a lost week – they get to do whatever the hell they want except come in contact with others. Focusing on getting that battle settled and done before we move on to the battle of – yes, you have to do school work that doesn’t count for anything. Serenity now.

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    1. Shannon wrote, “I love all these stories about kids doing guitar, hand bells, book assignments, etc. because my kids are doing JACK SHIT. We’ve decided that this week is a lost week – they get to do whatever the hell they want except come in contact with others. Focusing on getting that battle settled and done before we move on to the battle of – yes, you have to do school work that doesn’t count for anything. Serenity now.”

      My kids got a bonus second week of spring break and remote school starts officially Monday/Tuesday. The 9th grader has been messing around with some programming assignments, but aside from that and my normal break “homeschooling” of the 1st grader (which is my own homebrew remediation program), my three kids have done no official school work this week.

      I just had the conversation with the 12th grader where she raised the question–what about final exams? I suggested sitting on webcam while doing the exam, but as the 12th grader pointed out, that’s completely unsatisfactory with regard to cheating, as there’s only so much that the camera “sees.” I had to concede that the exams will wind up being essentially honor system. Ditto quizzes, tests, etc.

      We’ve had a number of contacts from more peripheral non-school entities. Everybody seems to have lots of ideas as to what we can do with our copious free time. I don’t say it but I’m thinking, “That’s nice. See you on the other side!” Basic life is just very time-consuming nowadays, what with more laborious shopping, more home cooking, everybody home all day, and the need to figure out how exactly to figure out how to train myself, husband and the kids to keep 3,000 sq. feet of house livable and hygienic without twice monthly help. (Husband and I conferred and are about to give up our cleaning help, as we’ve had a sudden local surge of coronavirus cases.) That last point is a bit of a rich lady problem–but I never would have bought a house this size if I wasn’t going to have cleaning help. It’s going to be a huge ordeal to figure out how to teach the kids cleaning tasks and divvy it all up…while still being reasonably nice. We are going to pay the kids something, because it is a huge job, and I think there will be much less whining if we pay them. (I’m thinking weekly decluttering Friday evening and then cleaning Saturday morning and finish by lunchtime?) If I play my cards right, the 1st grader will be thrilled to help…

      One bright spot I can mention is that we very successfully outsourced some important jobs to the big kids today. I gave the teenagers alcohol wipes and told them to wipe down touch screens, keyboards and mouses. And then I gave them disinfectant wipes and told the 9th grader to wipe down doorknobs and faucets upstairs and told the 12th grader to do the same downstairs. That worked very well.

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    2. My son is 3 months from graduation and has a 45 in English, which is the only class I care about at this point because he needs to pass it to graduate. The others are band or AP classes, and *whateveremoji*. (He has 3 acceptances, 1 rejection, 2 waitlists, and he’s going to wait on one of the waitlists.) So basically, my plan for the upcoming week is to get him to do his English classwork/assignments (9 times out of 10 his low grade is because he hasn’t done the assignments). Aside from that, *whateveremoji*. He likes his AP classes, so he will probably do them on his own.

      S is going to stay in a hotel for an additional 5 days. She says she is doing her Spain classes online. I didn’t think she would learn much in classes this semester anyway, so again, whatever. (She has, however, learned a lot about pandemics and how they are handled globally.)

      I have some students in my 2 classes who have been doing barely anything. One hasn’t even logged on to Blackboard all term. I emailed 2 of her other profs, whom I know, and they said the same. I assume they are all TikToking based on the number of college-aged coronavirus-themed TikToks I have been seeing.

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  7. Husband and I just paid a visit to the Cabinet of Unused or Partially-Used Science and Craft Kits.

    We have a lot of stuff in there (largely gifts from grandmas to our two older kids?). I found some promising items, but it was mostly very fiddly, parent time-consuming projects–which is why we never got around to using them. I also suspect that some of the materials have expired.

    However, this time around we have two teenagers and Daddy is working from home…

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    1. I have been slowly going through closets and such and giving away any old games I find via our town’s freecycle/buy nothing groups. Tomorrow I work on E’s closet, which I keep forgetting exists because we never go into his room any more.

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