Thursday, April 08, 2021

End of Term Updates

 The undergrads are surprisingly keen to get vaccinated.  I think they're very tired of pandemic and (sensibly) would like to stop getting quarantined in their rooms.  My vaccinated colleagues range from "everything's fine now" to "we must stay indoors for another year because variants".  Never before has a single thing caused me to lose so much respect for so many people....

I should be grading right now.  I cannot muster up the energy to grade five (5) whole lab reports, UGH.

I think the pandemic has eaten my will to... everything.  Like depression, but maybe not depression?  Just pandemic?  I don't know.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The irony is not lost on me

Exactly 366 days after I got the plague, I have been vaccinated for the plague. Obviously immunity lasts more than 90 days for most people - certainly including me- as evidenced by the fact that 20% of the town's 3300 college students have had the plague in the last EIGHT WEEKS and yet, none of us has gotten it again.  

Friday, March 05, 2021


 My state recently opened up a lot of vaccine appointments... at retail pharmacies.  They can only be made online and the website works badly. This means that only those people with a good internet connection and lots of time, at the moment when appointments open, can schedule themselves. The state health department still is running clinics, and has a list, and they will eventually call you with an appointment, but... not soon.

My mother is already fully vaccinated because she is not only a health care worker but also volunteers at a safety net clinic and also is a vaccination volunteer for the state.  My father is old enough to qualify for the current phase, but nothing has been happening.

You see where this is going, right?  I stalked the pharmacy website until I got him an appointment and he'll get a first dose Sunday.  I feel not great that the whole process is so difficult for so many people, but on the other hand he does legitimately qualify for a vaccine now, and it's at a nearby pharmacy, so I'm not taking a geographically-allocated-by-population dose away from someone else.  But the whole thing leaves me feeling slightly icky.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021


 My employer, like many, has desired us to agree to a "Statement of Expectations".  I will not comment on them except to say that a) there is still not a single documented case of surface-to-person transmission despite about three possible ones (elevator in China, elevator in New Zealand, cargo container in New Zealand) and b) I did an experiment to see how long I could go without ever clicking the button before anyone would even notice and the answer is six weeks.  

You, dear reader, can read between the lines.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Schools and Openings

 Our school district has re-opened (again) for in-person classes.  Something like 80% of parents have opted to send their children in person, including us.

(Fortunately for the teachers, my state has put them right after medical and EMS personnel for priority, and they have all gotten been offered a first dose of vaccine before opening.)

Why did we send our kids back?  Transmission in schools is relatively low - although, of course, not zero- does not drive increases locally (though it does reflect them)- and we probably already had the plague.  Variants arise continuously, and some of those variants will escape immunity, even from vaccination, although vaccine responses are broad enough to generate a suite of antibodies which are likely to be partially protective.  Over time, everyone is likely to contract one form or another of the plague. Online school is terrible, pretty much everyone hates it, and my children are learning very little.  

The pandemic will go on (and on and on); my risk tolerance is relatively high, the schools are opening regardless, and my individual actions can't fix a year of sociopathic systemic failures. My spouse and I both work, which means we have to have childcare, which means that at least three extra people will be in our house; school isn't riskier than that.  Could things have been different, and betterSure, but they aren't.  (Our youngest has been going to a private school since September, which has had not a single case despite sky-high cases locally- mostly the college students.)

I would like to note that I am fully aware of just how bad a 'moderate' case can be.  I was sick in bed for close to a month, exhausted, using an inhaler twice a day.  I know.  Last March, however, when I got sick, it was not exactly avoidable; we got sick even before the first lockdown, while still teaching.

If you are not sending your child to school in person, I fully support this decision!  I also ask you to consider that others' capacity to have their miserable children at home indefinitely, with no societal structure to replace school, is running out.  Schools need vaccines for their staff, less hygiene theater, and more consistent mask-wearing. They don't necessarily need to be closed, though I think they should keep an online option for everyone.  And if private schools are allowed to remain open, but public schools refuse to, that's not a public health intervention: that's pure capitalism mixed with pure elitism. 

Monday, February 01, 2021

 I would just like to repeat that, as time goes on, the chances of any individual person not getting the coronavirus become very unfavorable. But if people are lucky they will get vaccinated and not die.  

Also, for the millionth time, testing describes an outbreak that has already happened and, in and of itself, prevents nothing.

This concludes my subtweet of [redacted].

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On Being Inclusive

 One of the parts of my job is helping run intro lab, which is usually mostly made up of first-year students.  For a variety of boring reasons, about one in five of the first-years is terribly under-prepared for Intro Chem.  (It tends to be, disproportionately, people who went to not-great high schools.) 

Over the years, I've tried to get them to be more comfortable asking for help. (They are wee 18-year-old children, and so the less-wealthy ones haven't quite figured out that it is my literal job to answer the same question 50 times a week.  These are also the ones who need the most help.)  I introduce myself!  I tell them I'm there for all their questions!  

The purple hair seems to have made a big difference too.  Are cranky middle-aged women with purple hair more approachable?  Or maybe I've finally reached the age where I remind them of their mothers.