Monday, September 28, 2020

Lost Summer Vacation 2020

 This year I couldn't take my kids to our usual vacation in Northern Michigan for several weeks.  I couldnt take them to visit their Grandma in Florida.  Instead they went to a camp in their home area for three weeks.   I worked.   I really missed our vacation.  I really really missed it.  

1. Problems because of Covid virus.  

Well naturally at this time of writing it is still very dangerous to travel by airplane.  Let alone an overseas flight with changing planes three times and on the plane for eight hours.  I dont even know if these are happening these days.  Flights between the US and Europe:  are they going on?  I heard of several hubs flights from Europe were flying too.  But even these were limited or cancelled because of the worsening situation in the summer in the US.  

Early in the Spring my Mother said, "You cant come to us, it is too dangerous. Dont even think about it.  I thought, by July, we could make it and smiled in my head over her pre caution.  BUT, by the end of May when I had to either cancel the reservation on my rental house or pay the other half.... it WAS worse  and I had to concede that my Mother had been correct and I couldnt and shouldnt go to the US.  Even though northern Michigan was relatively safe with few cases and even fewer deaths, getting there was the problem.  In fact the weekly list of countries which were dangerous and required quarantine were changing all the time that it seemed impossible to book any vacation outside of our own country (see my next post for more on this).  It WAS downright dangerous travelling. Let alone on long plane flights.  Florida at the time was totally off limits.  It was one of the most dangerous states in the US.  Wow.  

When the owner of the rental flat asked if I wanted to come or had to cancel, I wrote back that I had dreaded writing to her and making a decision, but, I had to cancel.  She understood and thought that would be my answer.  She graciously refunded the first half of the payment.  Well... thats that.  


2.  Florida is getting out of hand at any rate.  The summers are so hot there now.  Every week I was calling my Mother several times and not only did she have to stay inside and not meet people because of the virus, but she had to stay inside because of the heat PERIOD.  The temperature is daily in the 90s and the heat index over 100 all the time.  Ridiculous.  Between 12 noon and 6 pm my Mother can not go outside.  In 2019 we were in Florida in July and we were in danger when we stayed out past 1.30 in the afternoon.  A trip to Jungle Gardens Sarasota got us dangerously hot by 1.30 pm that we had to leave. I thought we could make it till 2pm, but we couldnt. As a result, I  dont see how a trip to Florida in the summer is even possible for us, unless we just stay inside during the whole afternoon.  Kind of silly.  (At this writing it is the beginning of September and the heat in Florida is still daunting).  

So... how will we make that trip in the summer in the future covid virus or not?  

What instead happened was that my daughters went to a camp for three weeks and I worked.  Continuously, six days a week all July.  I dont usually do that.  But a) no vacation was happening and b) I couldnt afford not to work or take any days off.  Every day I didnt work cost more than what I had.  There is less business, naturally, because of the virus.  And since my business relies heavily on tourists, which there are fewer of, I have a great cut in revenue.  Ergo, therefore, etc... Work, by me. 

It was easy to work. I dont mind that, what I did mind was missing my daughters and our usual time together.  I dont want to use this cliche, but I will: I love the bonding we have.  We all love our Northern Michigan vacation, although they dont have other friends there so when they get antsy they fight with each other, but overall we have a great time together.  And last year I proved  that I could handle it all by myself.  I spent every summer there growing up, now I wish they can carry on the tradition in their hearts and minds and so far they are.  But this year we missed it and to compare it, it is worse than hitting a big bump in the road and the car bangs up and down and you feel that something broke from the lurch and the bump.  Something is missing, something broke, maybe a flat tire?  

That was the worst.  But on top of that, I just plain missed my kids in the summer.  Most of the year my wife takes charge of the trips and more than half the time I go, but even so, I have a feeling that they bond more with my wife.  ie winter ski trips. I cant ski, so I cant go with them down the hill. In  the summer it is just us three.  Swimming and going to movies and to the fast food eatery traditions, and, just me with them.  

This last summer they werent even at home in the July month.  And who knows how long they  will want to make the long trip to Michigan and miss their friends in the summer or their dog or whomever? Till they are teenagers??  Hopefully at least that long.  And when one stops will the other daughter want to go with me alone?  

Lost time.  A lost summer.  I missed it. I missed them.  Gosh darned covid virus.  

Ok, I m sounding bloody overly emotional now.  Let s stop it.  

(Next post, the summer vacation which DID happen)

Maybe being re released. I will get this soon.  A classic discordant LP from the discordants epitome. Back from 1982 after Pere Ubu came back together again.  I think they cut themselves loose from their punk roots and just did what they wanted to do.  Happiness rolled together with sadness. Discordance and melody.  Well, at least I think so.  Fitting for the time. I guess.  With the hit "we have the technology"

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Covid -19 The darker side

I read that "corona virus divorce" was a trending subject in Japan.  But a small look at the number of articles and the places they are coming from is not confined to Japan, though they may have it the worst.  Here is just a sampling of articleshereand here

This is terrible. It really depresses me.  What is the problem? 

Well as one wag said in one of the articles, if time apart from each other increases our love for our spouse, then so much time TOGETHER decreases our love for each other.  In other words the more time we are cooped up with each other, the more we hate each other.       
 I can understand this.  The little things start to grate on your nerves, the little BAD things and then you start adding up and painting the picture and digging the hole you are going to dig and it keeps getting worse.  "Oh, it makes sense they are so dirty because look at all the things they do which just exemplifies that they are a pig".  And you list on your fingers this this and this.  And then this this and this too.  It becomes too much, overwhelming. 

But this is fake. Its like a bad outing where you keep laying on more and more stress on the trip, oh my god, what are my parents going to say when they have to pick me up from the hospital? They will hate me. They will ask what is going on and keep me away from my family members.  They will get a doctor for me and.... you dig yourself deeper and deeper see.  But only stressing the bad. Thats what we are doing when we look at our spouse and hate them.  The picutre is made up only of their bad traits.  And of course you can't stand them then.  The whole picture you have painted of them is only dark colours.  That 's not fair. 

Also sadly, it was mentioned in one of the articles, that people today are "used to" divorce.  It doesnt have an "OMG divorce" stigma that it used to, say before 50 to 70 years ago.  Today, it is like, "I don't like you anymore, I want to divorce you" which was also stated in one of the above linked articles.  Is that superficial or what? 

It has to be a process. There has to be a weighing over the matter.  Please, realize that your first impulses are usually very superficial and over emotional.   I am reading a wonderful book now, on, well, sleep which says that the age old adage "sleep on it " makes a lot of sense.  Not only do we cool off some and dont let our emotions control us, but we re assess and our brain sorts things out more rationally in our sleep.  The next day you can have a change of heart.  Of course till you see how dirty your spouse is again. 

Thats when we need to do more work on it. 

What I would like to do at this point is to outline the plan for hopefully changing the course of events.

1.  When you say to yourself "enough is enough, I can't take it anymore" no.  Take a nap and sleep on it and say, "Yes I CAN take more".  This is the positive and the alternate is the negative.  It is not the low point (unless you have domestic abuse which I am not talking about in this article).  And, yes you can take more. 

2. The next step is to DIPLOMATICALLY discuss.  One reason I think Barack Obama was one of the greatest presidents was he wanted to discuss. That is a big part of democracy.  That is  a big part of human relations.  Or it should be.  If you are overly emotional, or start to go off the hook whenever you start to discuss the matter then you really have to find someone who can mediate.  And mind you , this doesnt have to be a professional.  It can be a mutual friend who maybe knows the goods and bads of both of you.  Put them between you and your spouse and have them not allow harsh words or rising tempers.  The point being.... TALK.  But talk, dont yell or shout or get out of hand. THAT is not discussion.

3.  The mother of all inventions in ALL relationships, be they marital, or between the US and China is COMPROMISE.  This is actually harder than one thinks.  There are so many people, and even cultures who dont compromise well.  They only think winning is the be all, and compromise is not winning.  This is a shame, but I have seen whole cultures who just can not get their heads around the idea of compromise, as it it is foreign concept and non existent in their lexicon.  Which in fact, who knows, maybe it isnt a part of many cultures.  I guess compromise is not the lexicon of the hard nose, the arrogant or "winner".   It is not a "save face"   It is a lose face.  That is why it  is so difficult.  Maybe what makes it even more difficult is that compromise has to be a give in.  Many people can not do this. It may seem like a weakness.  I understand this and know this makes it even more difficult to achieve.  Maybe even that you need a "weaker" person in the argument who is willing to compromise a bit.  If you have two hard heads battling it out, you are going to need a third mediator who is going to have to say, "ok, give in a little".  Compromise is in effect Jesus accepting his death sentence when he probably could have run away before they took him away.  I may be exaggering, but if you are strong enough to compromise, then you will get far.  Probably farther than you would if you didnt compromise.  

When things fall apart, is that better for you?  Is that winning?  Is divorce a progression in your life propelling you forward?  Is starting over where you want to be or is it progression?  

It doesn't seem so to me.  
Think about it. 
You want to go back to square one after you got so far in life?  

It's been a tough time this year with the pandemic.  I personally have lost most of my working pay and nearly lost my home life.  Other people have lost much more. At this writing there are some 3.7 million worldwide who have had the disease or have it.  Some half a million have died.  The U.S. topping all lists in all of these matters.  And yet, or because of it, we can reassess ourselves and see what needs to be done and what needs to be done better.  That is always the case, but maybe many times we are either too lazy or too complacent in our regular lives to realize that and do something about it.  Sometimes something or somebody has to kick us hard to make us move.  I know that for myself.  But we have to move along with the people who have followed us here to this point in life.  The people who matter, the people who are staying with you. You have to polish yourself and progress in your life WITH THEM.

I hope so for you and for me. 

Get a good night sleep tonight.  8 hours.  

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Covid 19 reflections. (Maybe you dont care, but that s ok, I wrote it anyway)

It is probably the worst thing I can say, but... pause, there were some good things that came out of the covid 19 pandemic (the first wave).  For me that is.   For me.  I cant say that for over 200 000 people who died from it.  My hat on my heart for them.  

A.  I played a lot more sports with my kids and cooked for them more and helped them, often, with their homework.  The last point is not so new. I always helped my kids with their homework.  I helped them with the subjects I could help them with, usually Math and English.  And I was cooking for my kids at least once a week pre pandemic,   but during pandemic, I was cooking more often when it was my full week.  Or at least a couple days in the week. 

Cooking is a strange beast.  On one hand you get stressed out about what you will cook, And then the  amount of time you put into it and the amount of time it takes them to eat it is about 10 to 1.  Ten times longer to prepare it than to eat it.  BUT, but but but, if they like it, then it is all worthwhile. 

I cook simple stuff, as you may have read from my last post. If not, then here it is .  I am satisfied with the simple stuff I cook and during the pandemic I was able to add a couple more recipes and perfect a couple older ones.  

As I have mentioned in one or two other posts, I loved playing more sports games with my girls.  Although on further reflection I have to say we did not return to the football after the couple days we played it at our apartment in town.  I dont know why that was.  I thought once the girls were staying just about all the time at the weekend house in a small village we could play it more often in a big field just past the back yard.  But besides one or two throwing the ball sessions we never played football again.  I am a bit saddened about that. 

However we did play a lot more two square.  And that was fine because my older daughter played
more with us on that one.  She doesnt always join in in the sports games.  I dont know why not.  But she liked playing two square.  She won more. I guess she likes to play stuff she wins at.  Who doesnt?  So I am satisfied.  My younger daughter gets caught up in a new game and demands to play it more no matter if she wins or not.  Thats ok, I kept up with her and played as much as she could.  So that was nice.  When I can get them off their video playing and watching TV it is a good thing.  Especially to be outside.  

B.  When I was home by myself at our apartment in the city and my wife was taking care of the kids I had a lot more time to take care of things I put off for a long time.  Although I didnt put my old old photographs into a photograph book. I hope it doesnt take another pandemic to get to that (its a bad joke).  BUT I did get back to writing.  As you can see, I put out 4 posts in April alone and two more in May and I am pushing myself to keep going and publish more. I will surpass my worst years of publishing and have more than 11 for the year, but I wish I could get it up to 19 or 20.  27 was my best year in 2014, if I am not mistaken.  Writing is very satisfying, especially finishing something. 

I also got back to one of the books I am writing. I finished a major section and also I have to push myself to keep going on that and get it done.  That is more difficult because you have to find the right mind set when you are writing a book.  You have to find your mood for the book and put yourself into the book again.  You cant just sit down and start writing. You have to see where you left off and get yourself back into the spirit of the story.  But I did.   

I did stuff for my job which I hadnt been doing. And I accomplished those things.  When you have such a terrible character like I do which really pushes himself NOT to finish something, it is a great hurdle to get back to something and FINISH it.  You know I often stop a project when I have 80% or 90% done, just for some destructive reason, IDK why. I sabotage my work by just not completing it.  And during the pandemic I got stuff done.  Keep going, just keep on keeping on.  Cross it off your list.  And I did.  Not everything, by far not, but some things.  And to get back into the habit of writing is also a good thing that happened.  Now I just have to push myself to do it more often, or to keep it going.  

So that is about it, really.  Just small things that made me happy that I did. 
To be sure there were some personal bad things that came out of the pandemic, but I prefer to stay positive and see if I cant use the momentum of the time off to push myself to progress, difficult as that is for me.   

I started out listening to "Live Dead - Dark Star"  for this post (album cover pictured at the beginning).  But that was a bad idea as I cant do anything when I am listening to that album.  It makes me cry it is so beautiful and I have to just sit and listen to it for 23 minutes.  So then I changed it to the new Pat Methany album. This is a great mix of jazz and fusion tunes and I can work with it going too.   Although I like to put down albums that I have on CD or Vinyl here, I dont have this one..... YET.  But I will. I will get it on vinyl some time soon.  This one, 2020 new album from Pat Metheny.  He is one of the best. RIP to Lyle Mays.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Corona Virus Pandemic Cooking

There are always some good things that come out of bad things.  Right?  I mean, as George Carlin said: "within every silver lining there's a dark cloud".  So my silver lining around the dark cloud of the Pandemic was playing sports with my kids - football and two square,  AND cooking more.

This last week I cooked even more than my wife.  She wimped out and got them chicken nuggets  on Friday and then took them out to a restaurant for lunch on Saturday after they went to an aqua park which had just re opened.  Well, you have got to eat a lunch out after the aqua park, so that was nice.


Cooking blogs and cooking magazines are always the biggest sellers.  So I thought I would try to gain some cooking viewers to my blog.  But really I am very proud of my expanding cooking repertoire that I just wanted to share a couple "Dad at home" cooking meals.  Really nothing spectactular, very easy stuff.  But stuff that is yummy, decent food and works.  Well, if the chicken is correct.  So please don't scoff or laugh at my selection and my description of what to do.  Very easy stuff.  When you start at close to zero on cooking knowledge (well, maybe ten), you are proud of a ten point jump to making meals.  I won't be writing it like a recipe, but in regular writing format.

1. BBQ pork chops with potatoes.
Very easy stuff, but I started adding the potatoes underneath the chops to cook in the BBQ and those are very delicious and makes the whole meal much tastier and "fuller".  For three people I get 10 or 12 medium size chops, not huge and baste one side with BBQ.  Small, couple grains of salt on each chop and even less pepper, just a bit on the first side. Put in oven at 180 or 200 C depending on the strength of your oven.  You have to be pealing and then boiling the potato slices while you cook the first side of the porks.  I boil the slices of potatoes to soften them up.  After cooking the chops for about twenty minutes, I put the potatoes underneath the chops, turn the chops over and gently salt and peppr the other side and baste the other side with BBQ sauce too.  If the chops are real thick, you may want to hammer them down in thickness a bit.  I dont think the real thick ones cook as well, but actually I haven't tried those yet.

2. Vegetable Soup
Ingredients you will need (but it can be varied)
cube of vegetable bouillon
one onion
one carrot
can of peas or frozen or fresh of course (about 12 ounce can amount)
jar or can of stewed tomatoes without peelings
fistful of rice noodles wide length
4 pinches of salt
Other vegetables to your liking, such as corn or beans.
I usually spice it up a bit with some sort of hot sauce like hot wing sauce or tobasco, a bit.  But maybe IF the kids would eat it, I would lay off these spices.

I have been making this one when the kids are gone to the cottage with Mom and I am home alone in the city and trying to save the money or very little to spend at the end of the week in the budget.  The kids don't like some ingredient or another in the soup.

1 liter of cold water with the bouillon cube in the water. Start to cook.  I have the Isreali vegetable bouillon cubes left over from our trip to Isreal and they were very tasty. But I used the last one last night.
Right away when you start to boil the water, chop up the one carrot, the smaller the cube size, the softer they ll be. I am making them medium size now and still they are cooking down.  Cut the onion too. I am cutting the onion slices bigger and bigger it seems.  So I can get more taste out of it in a piece.  Put them in whenever you have them chopped up.  The carrot and onion need to cook longer than the peas and noodles.  The first part is going to take 10-15 minute to boil.  When it is boiling put in the peas and the can or jar of stewed tomatoes.  My mother in law is making those so it is very good and healthy.  Put a fist of rice noodles in at this time too, last.  Then with four pinches of salt (or less maybe if you dont like salt, I do) and you are going to cook it all now at a low boil for at least another 15 minutes, maybe twenty or even thirty .  Test it out to see everything is cooked to softness and the noodles are not hard at all. I tend to overcook a bit, too soft, but I seem to like it that way.  So maybe just 15 minutes of cooking from the boiling.  Maybe I even cook it for 25 minutes since it boiled.  That is possible.

But oh my goodness it is a thick soup.  Almost a stew.  And it is so so good.  I mean it should be enough for four people each with a big helping.  But I can eat the whole batch in one evening after I have made it and I am writing or reading on the computer. I just keep going back for more. I guess that is how Westerners get fat.  They sit in front of their computers and just keep eating.  But this is good wholesome vegetable soup.  I just can!t stop eating it when it is there. It calls me.  I would even say more than a pizza. I can get enough of pizza, but this soup, I just keep taking more bowls.  The only way for me to stop is to put it in the fridge, or just go to bed.  Seriously.  I even had the leftovers cold at work today because I didn't have a cooker. It was still good even cold.

3.  Buffalo style Chicken Wings.
Having grown up outside of Buffalo I have been eating these for decades.  When we were teen agers we used to have competitions on who could eat the most of the suicide chicken wings.  This Danish school buddy dude, Nils, was the winner all the time and he was quite proud about this. The trick is to not let the sauce touch your lips.  That is where it burns the most.  The lips are too sensitive for suicide wings.

I have actually been making these for over a year now since we found the sauce to put on them.  I am not going to say which sauce it is, though it has the word "Buffalo" in it.  Kind of demeans the whole recipe just knowing that the sauce is from a bottle. I guess you could make your own sauce.  Tobasco sauce. I tried to make a chipotle hot wing the other night, but it didnt have much taste.  Mind you, I am oven cooking these.  Other people deep fry them or something else, so maybe that makes it a bit different.  I ought to try to read how other people do them soon.

Easy.  10 -12 wings for three people.  Baste one side with the hot wing sauce.  I am using about a half bottle of 354 ml hot sauce per dinner.  a dab, a small dab of salt on the wings.  No pepper. It doesnt work with these wings.  Put in oven 200 Celsius.  Cook one side up for about 20-25 minutes.  Take out and baste another helping of hot sauce on the other side of the wings with a couple granuals of salt per wing.  Put back in the oven and cook another 25 minutes or so.  Its going to be at least an hour from start to finish.  After making these for more than a year, I still don't have it down on how to make the skin crispy and the sauce really sticking to the chicken.  But I think I make em well enough and I have enough sauce in the pan that I spoon it over the wings after they are on the plate.  Which gives them extra sauce, and watery sacue, which is good. I should only eat 4, but if I can get 5, that is enough to fill me.  Oh, but they are just so heavenly that if one is left over, I ll eat that one too.

I am not fat, but my wife says I eat too many portions.  And this WILL get me fat.  Tummy is rounding out more.  But seriously my tummy is as round as others who are twenty years younger than I am.  But.... I should cut out those extra helpings.

Sadly I probably won¨t be able to do the chicken wings anymore, or just for myself. My older daughter was mad at me when I made the chickent wings the other night.  Mostly because the chicken label is or was owned by this politician here who is corrupt and very bad.  He should have divested his business interests when he got into office, but it is very probable that he did not or still has strong connections to them. So, I agreed to stop buying chicken from that supermarket and get it from the local butcher.  I should buy more from small stores anyway, as I have a small store.  I will try from now on.  But then she said she didn't like the wings anymore.  That would break my heart.  I think of tall Nils eating his suicide wings every time, and all the wings I ate as a teenager.  Oh well, different people different tastes.

But really once you have the sauce, it is just a matter of basting the sauce on  and sticking them in the oven to cook. Easier than spaghetti.  I love a spicy, hot food, so I could eat these every week. 

In fact I love all my recipes.  The soup took a couple weeks to get right, but now it is so tasty as I already pointed out.

I have more recipes in my repertoire.  Chicken Cordon Bleu, a good easy lasagne which the kids really like, a spaghetti of course and a couple others.  The point is to find some recipes that your wife or spouse IS NOT making. Otherwise you are just copying and your kids will compare your food with the food their mother makes.  But actually they said I make a better lasagne now. I am going to try a frankfurter soup, but Grandmother makes a good version of this, so I have to find a different version.

So, there I hope it was an interesting little cooking spiel I have presented.  Please please this time, if you want to send over your recipes, Dads, please I would really love it this time.  I dont care what they are.  The simpler the better.  Salads, eggs, pancakes, whatever.  By the way, I am sorry to say that these pictures are not mine.  I am not one of those who takes pictures of his meals.  BUT for these I really should have my own creations pictured.  So, I am going to put in these stock photos for now and hopefully exchange them sometime for my own creations, once I make them again and get a picture of them.  Its just kind of stupid hype pretensiousness to me, but... I ll do it.

Bless all of you and if you read this that means you made it, so far, through the pandemic and you are safe.  Don't drop your guard completely now.  Still keep a distance from strangers.  It is still going around.  We still have to wear the masks inside shops, but I really don't mind that.  Rather safe than dead by disease.  Excuse me now, I have to make my dinner salad.


Still listening to the bondage label (I hate that label name).  This is bondage 12053 Alex Ranerro with a remix by the Pornbugs (another bad name), which just grooves very nicely. It makes you just nod your head back and forth and tap your foot. This is 2020 deep house, quite different from 2000 aughts deep house.  That was more housy with more vocals.  This 2020 stuff is more minimal house and techno sounds.  I am partial to dub techniques which there are more of.  Also echo and minimalism in the techno and house.  Reverb too.  Less vocal and a nice steady easy tempo.  Very good music for writing, especially at night.
I ll be getting in 12053 and 12054 soon.  Both very good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Internet Schooling Pandemic

I sat in my kitchen last week having a "lesson" with my one student who stayed on during the pandemic.  He has two teen age sons so his experience is a bit different from mine.  His kids are on some form of internet application in school for at least 4 hours a day. Then they are finished and they "retire" to their rooms and continue on their own.  My student seemed to think that this type of school would be the school of the future.

ugh. agh.  I shudder to think.

If you didnt notice I was being ironic saying that I had my lesson with him over skype then I "agh" school on the internet.  This is not lost on me.  But I still would hate to think that this type of school would be the future.

vs this

Well my kids are a bit younger, in sixth and 3rd grade and my experience with them with internet schooling is quite different.  First of all, I hope you have been reading my pandemic posts (well geez, there was lockdown, what else have you got to do?) because all of them had some comment, usually negative about my kids with internet schooling.

First and mainly, this just seems to me another example of transferring more work to parents from the source.  You know, like on line banking?  Before you handed the form to the cashier and they did all the money transferring and sending it to the parties to do whatever.  Now we do all the work on online banking. It takes us more time.  Otherwise we get charged in the bank.
The loss of a travel agent and booking ourselves is the same thing. No matter how many times you have done it and don't mind doing it, it is still a task of several hours that we didn't do before.

I can tell you both my wife and I have put a lot more time into our kids with their schooling during the pandemic time.  Now you may say, "great" more time with the kids and with important things like schooling.  uh, no.  Because much of the time was not spent with tutoring them.  Helping them with school I did not mind and liked.  But the other thing we had to do was watch them and make sure they were  paying attention and doing the work.  This was work  either the teacher would do or would not have to be done.  Really my kids are NOT bad students but at home I had to yell at them quite often to get off the video games and pay attention to the class or save the video games till after 3pm.  In school my daughter would NOT start playing a video game at any instance in school.  She knows better than that. But at home..... .  She can turn the school class camera off and even the microphone off and just pay attention when she is called on, otherwise she might be playing a video game on her phone.  Royal pain.

And several times a day: "did you do your math homework?  You want me to help you with something?  Can you show me that you sent the work in?"   In physical school the teacher says, "ok, hand in your assignment", and the kids do. If it 's not done, they have some sort of penalty and besides they usually really feel bad for not doing the assignment.  Not so with school from home. 

This vs
From the likes of it, I don't think I am the only one who was dissatisfied with internet schooling by far.  Even my student who said his kids were fine with the school at home told me later that his wife was staying at home every day (she also worked at his company) because she had much more work with their kids and their schooling AND preparing more meals at home, which we also had to do.

The national at home dads network (NAHDN) in the U.S. has a video out that gives you pointers with helping your kids with schooling while they are at home.  There are probably other resources or DVDs on home schooling current and from the recent past.

Now I won't deny that there are some advantages and some room for internet schooling in the future,
like one day or half a day or something, but I put my foot down and object if it were to be more than 2 days.  Especially for basic school 1 through 5. I don't believe that it can work well.

My wife was so put off by our daughters not learning well enough that she will be taking some longer time off from work in the near future to make sure they stay up with their school work.  Basically she will spend more time supervising them.  I can't decide if this is good or bad.

And for those kids whose parents both have a job. or I shudder to think about single parents,  who have limited free time with their kids, usually families of lower income, it will just be another dividing mechanism between rich and poor.  Not to mention the technology equipment that has to be purchased.  It isnt so easy for EVERYONE to put up the money. 

And of course just more tech stress.  My older sister is a professor and her university was closed, but she did internet teaching and she mentioned just the extra time she had to spend dealing with the tech aspect of teaching was such a pain and probably very time consuming especially at first.  Granted once you do it for a year you can iron out the problems, but it is just another 10 to 50 hours you are going to have to spend to learn something which probably has nothing to do with teaching. But now in these days it has to be learned.  For those who just want to teach but aren't good with tech, it will just mean more tech stress which... isn't fun. Let's put it another way.  What if you had to learn the piano or violin to teach kids.  Many teachers do know how to play and incorporate it in their teaching, but not all.   But if you HAD to and you weren't musically inclined wouldn't it just stress you out and make you angry? Maybe it was your dream to teach, but you can't play an instrument which you must, so you can¨t teach.  Does this make sense?

I had a parents meeting on the internet with the teachers of my older daughter.  School MIGHT open up on June first.  But nobody knows.  Maybe there will be a combination of school at school and at home.  OK.  My wife and I and even my daughter ALL want her to go back to school.  The teachers said, yes, one day in school and 4 at home.  One day? 


Pandemic be gone.
Internet schooling be gone too.  Shoo .

Friday, May 15, 2020

How I nearly died during the Covid 19 pandemic. Dad 90% at home during covid-19

I was inspired by an article in the New York Times last week that was about all the people who were writing about their experiences during the Corona pandemic.  There are now several sites set up in the US recording peoples' lives during the pandemic. Some just telling how they feel and their emotions.  Others more.  Most of the stories seem anxious, angry, or sad.  
 Though I have lost all my income during the month and a half and my children have school at home and that takes a lot more of our time up and more money taking care of them and watching over their work, in fact no one even caught the common cold.  Thank God my wife still had her job.  But  I can't say it has been an emotional time for me. I already have a couple posts up documenting daddy 90% at home during this time, so I will just write about this one day I had..... where I nearly died. 

Well, part of the problem was that I did not get a good night sleep.  I very rarely do.   But get this, I
got woken up at 5.10 am  by an alarm that sounded like a rooster crowing.  And then you hear "let me sleep, let me sleep"  over and over until it is mixed with the morning doves coo, which is warped to say, "let me sleep, let me sleep".  This going off every minute.  No kidding. At 5.15am!  Whose mind is so evilly creative? 

At 8am I am making tea and eggs for my daughters.  I guess I should have guessed by the bad 5am start that I might end up dying today.  Who thinks that near death can strike any day. 

It's not that I had to get my youngest daughter connected on a voice over company to her teacher quickly before her class started at 11am.  I did, you know.  Ha, and my wife calls me computer illiterate.  The adrenaline gets going even for stupid things like that.  Is that the fight or flight mechanism also? 

Its not that I had to get the lunch prepared AGAIN and I had no idea what I was going to make.  So I fell back for the nth time on my beloved melted cheese sandwiches, version 3.  And that worked too.  My older daughter said, "daddy, I am so hungry for lunch, please make me 7 cheese sandwiches".  She ended up eating 4. 

It's not that I had to clean the house, or at least the dishes and bathroom, because there are some household chores that have to be done every day.  They don't get done by themselves.  And if you don't do them, chaos sets in very quickly especially in a small house. 

It's not that I had my own work to do that I didn't get to. 

It's not that I was playing a really strenuous game of two
Not my daughter but both play 2sq
square (pictured twice) with my youngest daughter which we played for nearly an hour.  The problem was that I did not believe that, ME, the four square champion of the school yard when I was ten years old with Paul K could no longer play like I was ten years old!  That really confused me.  But it wasn't that. Even though I felt that something was wrong and I couldn't walk straight and I felt a little unbalanced afterward.

It's not that right after that it was getting to six pm and I had ignored the dog all day and she needed exercise too.  I was throwing the plastic chicken, her favorite toy, back and forth to her and running after her and playing tug of war with her growling with the plastic chicken in her mouth.

 IT WAS THAT I realized that I was way, WAY TIRED and it was EVERYTHING all together now.

I had to sit down on the bench and rest.  I felt that I could have a heart attack any minute.  It just was all too much for me.  Here it comes...?    

It's not that I am out of shape, although I should work on that bulge called a tummy. 

Imagine that.

It is that it takes a lot of energy to be a father. 

Imagine that.

During Corona it has taken even more energy.  

Imagine that too.  I wouldn't have. 

A morning dove flew overhead and starting cooing "Let me sleep, let me sleep". 
No kidding. 

I have gotten my house albums in order now.  This is Tribal UK 037.  The DJ Vibes B2 track "out there dub" is fantastic.  From 1995, incredible.  Still one of my all time favorite tracks.  

I was also inspired by episode 39 of the Dick van Dyke show in which Mary Tyler Moores' character had an especially trying day at home as a parent.  You could just as well have substituted daddy in that role.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Daddy 90% at home! Laborious tale of my days during the pandemic. (Trite and banal, but SO WHAT)

Wish I could be as great a teacher as this guy
(pic used by authors consent)
Funny thing is, I am working more and longer hours during this pandemic.  Although my kids just laughed at me when I told them that, "hahaha, what are you doing? Writing more emails?", I am usually working 12 hour days.  I am just getting up a bit later in the morning because I go to bed between 1am and 2am.  But the thing is, probably none of it would be considered "on the books" or creating value in this economically monetized system we live in these days.  Everything is measured by how much value it is worth.  (But if it is like that, how much value do all those facebook posts create? )  In other words, I probably won't make a dime on most of the work I am doing.  Hopefully some of it in later times, but a lot of it: nothing. 

So kids, let me tell you that I am working harder spending more time with you!

With the children in school at home, I am spending a couple hours a day being teacher.  I
Doesn't it look like a happy camper beachball?
do math and english with one daugther and sometimes math with the other daughter.  Then for at least two weeks, since my wife still has a paying job and has to concentrate on that, albeit most of the time at home in a separate room, I was doing all the shopping, and lunch and dinner meals.   I tell you, the week after Easter it was a wonder I pulled off enough good meals.  I have to pat myself on the back that I did it.  It meant doing the shopping every day, and getting the timing right.... well, we usually had lunch around 3pm and dinner at 8 pm, so um,  my timing was not exactly on.  

Morning time was always busy.  Ok, like I said, I could get up at 8am or even 9, 9.30 because I didn't have my classes to get to.  I did still have one class on skype with a student.  In any case by 10.15 my younger daughter had scheduled help with me on either math or English.  Then my older daughter perhaps requested my time for help with math at 11.15, though it didn't take long.  I didn't even get in English classes with her because she was trying very very hard to keep up with all they assigned her.  As it was and is, we have to watch over her shoulder and make sure she is sending in the homework.  And when she had a virtual class at 11 or 12, regrettably I had to come in more than once and tell her to pay attention fully to the class and put away her phone (where once she was playing a video game which made me very angry).  So I had to be school monitor too.  

At 12 or 12.30 I had my first chance to check my emails and do some reading on pre open of the stock market.  A little bit of an escapism waste of time on my part, rationalized that I have to keep up on my stocks in this volatile period.  
I hate geometry.  What to do with this?

At 12.30 my younger daughter was done and she either wanted help on TOMORROWS homework or wanted to play a game a bit before lunch.  I should go to the store NOW, but it was still only 12.30 and so I put it off to sit with her with work or play.  

By 1.15 I really needed to get to the store for what I am planning for lunch.  That could take half an hour to pick it up.  But when I got it back, it was a success.  OK, i know, making melted cheese sandwiches in various forms is not the haute cuisine I could cook or aim for, it is rather low class.  Then again, getting your kids to be artistic with simple  rolls (not baguettes) and what food goes well in them, is sort of like making a pizza, which is very creative.  It has much more value than playing a video game, in my humble opinion.  And baking  is fun and easy.  Hopefully my kids got the idea and they will be able to survive in college with their daddy's book "20 ways to make melted cheese sandwiches and never be bored with them".   I, um, haven't actually written the book because as of yet, I only have seven ways, but I am getting closer every week. 

Lunches were relaxed and fun and tasty, but when we finished it was 3pm or after.  Now my daughter got back to work or if she was done with school I hounded her to practice her guitar.  My younger daughter took the dog for a walk.  She was out with the dog till 4.30 or so.  My older daughter was really trying to catch up and stayed in and sat at the table I was at and did more school assignments.  I had to help her with some math homeworks she still had undone.  If they weren't too hard, I could take my second break to work on my stuff and see how the stocks were doing on opening.  I had some real volatile stocks that I  wanted to unload but then use the money to buy some other stuff. A lot was happening so I had to pay attention to that, though I am strictly an amateur on stock picking. In recent years I have been a rather bad one at that.  I think
My stocks
I am getting the hang of and learning the secret of how to destroy wealth.  It isn't as easy as you might think it is. It has taken me several years to see it happen and another several years probably for me to understand why.   That will be my sophomore book published after the grilled cheese sandwich bestseller. Admittedly, a book on how to destroy your wealth might not be a big seller.    

At 4.30 pm my younger daughter was home with the pooch  and she wanted to go out and play catch.  I said yes yes, in ten minutes.  At 5 pm I finished and we got ready to go out.  Masks on.  It is very nice that my older daughter also wanted to join us outside.  She actually picked us over a video game of BRAWL, which by now, I despise (more on that in a later post).  

I have to say it has been one of my greatest successes and pleasures so far this year to start to teach my girls how to play touch American Football.  Excuse me, I have to call it American football as I know I have a lot of European readers who know football as soccer. So my girls, 8 and 11 really got into learning how to play football.  The downfall NEARLY came when they learned that in fact you can have a repeat of the four downs if you make a first down up 10 yards from where you started.  My older daughter was quite disappointed by that.  "But then you can have endless four downs and always make a goal."  She had first liked it and assumed that you only got four downs to make a touchdown.  Then the other person gets four downs to get a touchdown.  We had played it that way on the first day.  But by the second day they had so progressed that I had to clarify and expand the rules.  

Well needless to say, it is schooling in process.  It will take a while yet.  Maybe we' ll get more chances, or in the summer more games.  It was 6.30 at the end of the game and I had to do the shopping for dinner.  You might ask, why didn't I get the dinner stuff at lunch?  Well in fact I did get stuff on Tuesday which I had planned to have in the fridge till Friday, but when it came to the day, I had either changed my plans or something was lacking that I had to run down to the store to get still.  Bad planning, or just inexperience.  It still happens to my wife though.  Also, i can't carry a lot. I am not driving because the grocery store is two blocks down the street.  So, I get what I can carry.  

Since the lunches had been successes, I wasn't as concerned if I failed for supper.  And in fact Wednesday was a real winner with just a simple meal of a really good klobassa with potatoes.  And I actually made the potatoes so they were done at the same time as the meat.  I may have graduated to a higher state of cooking consciouness with this accomplishment. It isn't so simple.  I think destroying wealth is easier to do than getting the potatoes done at the same time as the main meal.   

Even the next night's dinner was a success with a bachelor's version of chicken cordon bleu (just plunk the ham and cheese on top of the breaded chicken).  I think I failed Friday though because they said Mommy would cook that night, but when she came home, she said, "no way" and I had to throw something into the oven but I did it wrong.  I always mess up with pork chops.  

The thing is, I was cooking from 7 and it was done by 8 or 8.30 and then by the time we were done, it was about bed time.  I had to acquiesce and give in for a bit of TV watching because I guess it had been my bad planning and my love to teach them Football, which had thrown us way off schedule.  So they were going to bed by 10 pm or a speck after ... which is a bit later than I would prefer.  But they get up a bit later these days also, so...

I still had to push them, make sure they brushed their teeth and had things ready for tomorrow.  It was after 10 pm  now.  

All in all these are 12 or 13 hour days we are talking about, with a bit of a break for half an hour in the late morning and another in the mid to late afternoon.  12 hours dude, all week.  Why don't you work all week in the office for twelve hours and see if you come home able to stand.  I know, some of you are saying, "but I do", well, but you don't do 12 hours with your kids sonny.  And let me tell you man, THAT is a whole different kettle of kilbasa!   Not to mention that after my kids are in bed, I either will still be walking the dog or looking at emails and trying to do a bit more of my own work which is on half hold, but is also keeping me busy in alternate weeks.   

Anyway. I am not complaining.  I just want to pat myself on the back a little and say, "yeah, you can do it".  And even though many people  won't consider it worthy of payment, unless they have to get a nanny, then they see how much it costs, anybody who spends any amount of time, and probably more time during this pandemic, with their kids will know that it is worth a whole lot more than so many peoples' worthless button punching jobs.  Here, put this casserole in your pipe and smoke THAT!

I wrote this for the first time at the weekend cottage. Saturday night, so I was not listening to anything.  But upon returning and correcting, I listened to a new label I really like.  I will get this single on vinyl.  A real beaut of a deep house ep. 
Sascha Dive: Detroit Sunrise ep