Monday, April 11, 2022

News and Updates

Just pausing in the middle of the vacation posts to catch up with life as we know it. This may or may not be something I regret, given the state of the world. Sometimes it’s nice just to lose yourself in the broader fantasy of travel and not think about things.

But here we are.

1. I have now completed my taxes, which surprises me no end. Given the complexities of my income (which varies, sometimes considerably, by semester), the fact that I have two kids in college at the moment, and the fact that my mom passed away last year, I was expecting things to be much more complicated than they were. But most of the inheritance isn’t reportable to anyone other than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (and that not until June) except for one bit that already had taxes taken out of it, and my mom’s accountant was willing to answer some questions for me which was very generous and helpful of her. So the whole thing only took two days of organization, profanity, visions of prison, and googling how to fake one’s own death and start over in a small Central American town as a bartender rather than the eight I was planning on. I’m kind of glad it worked out in the end, as I don’t think I could take the heat and humidity of living in Central America.

2. Everything went quite well until I went to file the tax forms electronically, which is how I discovered that the IRS still hasn’t processed my return from last year despite cashing my check. This makes the “submit your last year’s AGI” security feature unworkable, it turns out. But a bit of googling turned up a workaround, and now I can relax for another year, at least about that.

3. Kyiv still stands. In fact, the Russian military suffered a historic defeat there, which maybe someone saw coming but that someone wasn’t me. I fully expect the fighting in eastern Ukraine to devolve even further into barbarity than it already has, however, since at this point that’s pretty much the only path open to Putin besides withdrawal or being overthrown and neither of those is really on the table. But for the moment Kyiv still stands.

4. I made carbonara tonight, in an attempt to recapture some of the vibes from our trip. It … wasn’t bad. I managed to find the actual ingredients (pecorino romano, guanciale, fresh eggs, black pepper, bucatini since I didn’t have a thick spaghetti, and NO CREAM OF ANY KIND thank you very much) and I found a few recipes to compare so I could figure out amounts (none of them agreed on anything) as well as a few YouTube videos to see how it was done and it all turned out … okay. A bit salty, so if I do this again I will cut down on the cheese. But still good enough to count, I think.

5. Today was the “We’re about to head into the ‘1960 to the Present’ unit of US2 and you should be prepared to think for yourselves because it’s not my job to coddle your preconceived notions” warning that I now feel compelled to give my students, and it seemed to go well. They’re supposed to disagree with me sometimes – that’s how I know they’re thinking. We’ll see how it pans out.

6. This weekend was full of Lauren and her friends, which was lovely. When your child feels comfortable bringing friends by for meals and hanging out, it’s a good sign that you’ve done something right as a parent.

7. I have discovered that I am not hip and trendy enough to order food at some restaurants anymore. Specifically, the ones that have QR codes on the table instead of menus. The ones where you never actually speak to a waiter, you just download some random app onto your own personal phone that the restaurant is not paying for, figure out how to use it to place your order without training of any kind, and then receive random food because the servers have no way of knowing which person at the table ordered which food. Those. In fairness the food was very good and the dinner company was better, but until there is a cold day in Hell and I learn to like IPAs I would much rather just have a paper menu.

8. Home Campus is back to offering plays and musicals now, and a bunch of us from the campus went to see this spring’s musical on opening night last week. It was a lot of fun, and literally half the cast were my students at one time or another so that was nice – especially since one of them had graduated a while ago and it was good to say hi again. The world is opening up, at least at the moment. We’ll see how long it lasts.

9. I am now double-boosted since they’re offering such things to the Olds, of which I am one. It was easy – fill out the online form, print off the QR code (NOT the menu – different code), go over to the designated spot and let them do their thing. As usual I spent most of the next 18 hours feeling mildly fluish, my arm felt like I’d run bicep-first into a door jamb, and my 5G service did not notably improve. But I’ll take that if it means that my next bout of Covid is as mild as my first.

10. I voted in the local primary here in Our Little Town and none of the candidates I was voting against won, so that’s something I suppose. It took me and Kim two tries to find our polling place as it had been moved without our knowing, since we stopped subscribing to the local paper once we no longer had kids in the public schools, but it went pretty smoothly for all that. I always vote in elections. Can’t complain if you don’t participate. Not legitimately, anyway.

11. Speaking of politics, I am continually amazed at the sheer volume of direct confirmation that gets released almost daily about how treasonous the Trump Insurrection actually was, and I hope that appropriate consequences for everyone involved, right up to the top, are not too far off. As noted earlier in this space, an insurrection that is not punished is called a dress rehearsal. The American republic deserves better.

12. I have had “Nothing But Flowers” by the Talking Heads running through my mind for the better part of ten days now. It’s their best song as far as I’m concerned and as earworms go it’s not bad.


LucyInDisguise said...

Enjoying the travelog. Although, if my mother was posting it, there would be more pics. Way more. (She once shot 5 rolls of 20 exposure rolls of film visiting her sister in Denver over a three-day weekend.)

6. ”When your child feels comfortable bringing friends by for meals and hanging out, it’s a good sign that you’ve done something right as a parent.” (Until week number 13, at which time you start questioning the wisdom of becoming a parent.

7. No. Just no. Not just no - hell no.

8. Covid cases rising here in High Desert Country, NV. Again. I’d really like to bus a few dozen of these rethuglican assholes to Texas where they’d undoubtedly feel more at home.

9. All members of our household have been properly vaccinated & boosted. We’re still wearing the masks in public spaces. (See #8 above.)

10. Got a postcard in the mail two days ago from the county clerk. “All active registered voters that are registered no later than 14 days before ElectionDay will be sent a mail ballot unless the voter chooses to opt-out.” Curiously, opting out is somewhat complicated - so we will be voting by mail again despite vehement rethuglican objections. Win!

11. I can think of a lot of words that I would use. “Amazed” would fall somewhere down around #34 or so …

12. Trade ya. I’ve been dealing with this for almost three weeks now:

(Shit. I probably just added another two weeks grabbing that link … although, it’s nowhere near as bad as its predecessor: )

You’re welcome.


David said...

Glad you're enjoying it! And rest assured, there are a great many pictures to come though not nearly as many as I took. In the seven days we were there I took roughly 1300 photographs, mostly on my old DSLR though maybe 75 of them were on my phone (usually the selfies to prove to my children that I was actually there). I cannot take good pictures on my phone, though. Kim can take my phone and get it to produce artwork, but when I try it I get flat blurs. Oh well.

I figure if half of those photos come out that's not bad. Your mother sounds like a woman after my own heart, though.

6. Haven't hit that point yet, but there is a part of me that thinks I'd be okay with it. Let's not test that assumption, though.

9. All of the mask mandates have been lifted here and our rates are still pretty low so I'm mostly carrying my masks these days, though if it gets too crowded I'll put it on. I suspect there will be at least one more big wave coming, though, so I'm enjoying the break while it lasts.

10. WIN!

12. No on both counts. The second one is a terminal earworm, and as for the first one that's one of the few bands whose entire output I cannot stand in the least. I'll stick with Nothing But Flowers, thanks.

Working on the next travel post now, in between grading exams. Sigh.

LucyInDisguise said...

My mother got a Kodak Jr. Six-16* from her dad when she graduated from high school. I’ve still got it in a box in a closet somewhere, and in good enough condition that if I could locate film for it it would still work.

I also have, let’s see now, carry the one … multiply exponents … roughly thousands of photos dating back to 1937 stored in more than half a dozen 3’ cubed boxes. She was a prolific shutterbug. She was, however, nothing short of abysmal at noting anything about subjects, locations, people, names, or any other pertinent information. I’ve managed to scan several hundreds of photos and noted who, what, when, and where when I could figure it out, yet there are (quite literally!) tens of thousands of photos that no one but my mother will ever know anything about. She died back in 1992, so, there you are.

9. Mask mandates here have also been lifted. Community spread is still listed as low, but then only 1 in three of our upstanding citizens have been vaccinated, and cases are starting to rise again. Sigh. My kingdom for a community liberally populated with responsible adults!

12. I think you should know that I consider your lack of cooperation disturbing. Understandable, but disturbing nonetheless.

I’d say something stupid like “Happy Grading” but I’m pretty certain that you could lob something substantially heavy with a high enough degree of accuracy that I’m not really willing to put my safety in that kind of jeopardy. Therefore, in the interest of peace and harmony allow me to offer this irenic:

(No. It’s not another earworm …)




David said...

My parents had an old Brownie Reflex camera that Oliver has since inherited, and I grew up with a succession of 126, 110, and Disc cameras that I wore out through hard use. But I hear you on the mystery photo problem. I spent a couple of summers scanning the old family photos going back to tintypes - maybe 4000 of them? - and vanishingly few have any identifying information on them at all. But the ones I took do. And that's why. Good luck with trying to figure it all out - it sounds like a project and half, that does.

I'm finding that now that I've done some genealogical research I'm having an easier time piecing things together for those photographs, which is a nice discovery.

And my mom did go through several hundred of them at one point and tell me some of the stories. Never enough time.

That's an earworm, but it is a much higher quality earworm and I'll take that. :)

LucyInDisguise said...

I didn't get possession of mom's photo collection until after she died. Her surviving sisters helped identify some of the relatives, but unless you've been there, scenic photos of wilderness (Yellowstone? Canada?) or random buildings somewhere are pretty much useless. I did manage to figure out that some structural steel behind my dad was part of The Golden Gate Bridge ...

Sorry. Didn't discover that Summer Breeze had earworm potential until I got out of bed this morning. I've been dealing with it all day - though I must say it's better than The Doors any day of the week.

My problem with earworms is that I don't just have to deal with the melody. Full orchestration & harmony makes it a lot of work in addition to being annoying. Seems like some part of my brain needs to keep doing it over & over until what I hear in my head matches the studio recording. Exactly.

Is the beer I have to cross, I suppose.


David said...

I was fortunate to start my photo project while both of my parents were still alive, though in the end mostly my dad just appreciated them (there were a couple of albums from his side of the family). I was in high school when I discovered some of the old photos that my parents had taken. There weren't many - my parents were the sort of people who would have two Christmases on a roll of film - but none were labeled. I spent an entire spring break from college doing nothing but labeling my own photos, which tells you a lot about me I suppose. But I've been grateful for it.

About 10-12 years ago I offered to scan all of the family photos as a project, and my parents agreed. By that point my grandparents were long gone and their photos (they were fairly prolific photographers for the time period) were sitting at my parents' house and my brother had organized a good chunk of them into albums. Driving cross country with four storage bins of photos was kind of nerve-wracking in a "what if something happens to them" kind of way. I never did return them. Everyone in the family got copies of the scans, though.

My mom was a storyteller - whatever skills I have in that regard I inherited from her - so once I started that project I'd ask her questions. And once she got the scans I had her go through them to tell me about them. She got through four of the seven albums, but none of the other three bins. We talked about one of her parents' albums not long before she died and I managed to write down about a quarter of that conversation afterward.

But yes, pictures of people are always easier and, to me, more interesting.

I'm still floating along with Nothing But Flowers but I'm okay with that. Usually if I can sing the song all the way to the end it will go away (a problem with songs I don't know well) but I've grown accustomed to this one for now.