Oh, That’s Just Ducky, Part II

On the last day before the start of the school year, earlier today they cancelled all sports because a bunch of student athletes caught the ‘rona.

Tonight they cancelled all in person classes for the first week. My step son will have his first day of school in his room at our house.

I want very much for him to have a normal senior year, but selfishly I am so friggin’ relieved. We haven’t even made it to the first day and already the virus has started spreading through the student population and it’s already bad enough to send everyone home for a while at least.

Finally, a smart move on the school district’s part. Finally.

Addendum: He’s going to have his first day of school from dad’s house and then come here afterwards. Same difference.

Oh, That’s Just Ducky

We just got a message from the superintendent of schools. Tomorrow is the first day of school and already we have a bunch of cases in the student population. The message says that many of them are athletes so the school is suspending all sports for the time being.

Sounds to me like they let some sports have camps and they did a shitty job keeping everyone safe… because they let kids play friggin sports. I can just picture a football huddle with Covid-19 jumping from kid to kid like Roger Moore jumping from alligator to alligator in whichever Bond movie that was (it was probably a stuntman anyway).

Happy last day of summer vacation.

Methuen High School Teacher Tests Positive for COVID-19

Jen pointed me to this article tonight.  The Lawrence Eagle Tribune is reporting that a teacher working at Methuen High School has tested positive for COVID-19.  Hooray.

This is going to happen everywhere.  Returning to school now is going to be a disaster of life threatening proportions.

Fortunately, while the teachers have gone back to school already, the students have not.  According to the article, classes will start remotely next week and then in early October they will switch to a hybrid model where students will be in the school buildings part of the time and learning remotely the rest.  So it’s very bad news for the teachers in the high school who now have to quarantine, but it could have been worse.

I just hope the teacher who tested positive is okay.  Get well soon, if you’re experiencing symptoms.  If you’re asymptomatic then get rid of the virus soon.

This does not actually affect my family.  We do live in Methuen, but my step kids’ father does not.  At some point, long before I was a part of the equation, it was decided that dad’s address would determine their school district, so my step son goes to school in dad’s town.

Here’s a copy of the article, along with a link.  It was published yesterday and it was written by Bill Kirk.

METHUEN — Just a few days into the new school year, a teacher at Methuen High tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the district to implement quarantines and contact tracing, according to Superintendent Brandi Kwong.

Teachers reported back to school Sept. 1 for professional development, Kwong said. She said the positive test will not impact the start of school for students, which is Sept. 14 for online classes. A hybrid of online and in-person classes starts Oct. 5.

“Protocols were followed and were successful and it will not impact our reopening,” Kwong said. “We worked with the Department of Public Health, the nurse leader and the principal at the high school.”

As a result of the positive case, a number of people who came into contact with the person, including children who have been in the building, have been quarantined.

According to an email obtained by The Eagle-Tribune, at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday Principal Richard Barden reached out to teachers at the high school.

“I have been notified that there is a COVID-19 positive case at Methuen High School,” he said. “If you are identified as a close contact you will be notified by a local board of health or a contact tracer who will explain recommendations for quarantine.”

Barden could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Neil Perry, who serves as chairman of the School Committee as part of his official duties, said protocols were followed informing people who may have come in contact with the teacher.

“We have to expect this,” he said. “It’s a test of how we handle it. … As people go back, we are going to have some cases.”

School Committee member Ryan DiZoglio said he found out about the case from postings on social media Thursday night, after which, he said, “my phone blew up.”

“I got 15 phone calls in 20 minutes,” he said, noting that some came from from teachers who work in other schools, including Comprehensive, Timony, Marsh and Tenney grammar schools.

“A lot of their concern is, ‘Why weren’t we told about this,’ which is ridiculous,” he said. “Teachers are very concerned they had to find out from Facebook.”

He said all teachers in the district should have been notified.

“Not knowing anything is concerning,” he said. “They want reassurance that we are containing it, everything is fine and we can move forward.”

Kwong said she did notify members of the School Committee, but that only teachers at the high school were notified of the positive test.

Jonathan Becker, president of the Methuen Education Association — the union representing teachers — did not respond to a voicemail or email seeking comment.

Random Stuff

It’s Sunday. My thumb hurts, and the rash on my arm is bigger than it was yesterday. I’m falling apart completely. Quarantine is finally breaking me, it seems. So what’s a red head to do? How about some reflection on the state of his world? Also known as a post full of random stuff? Sounds good to me!

Today is kind of a big day. Symbolically, if not literally. Today is the last weekend day that the kids are at our house before Bellana goes back to school. We’re going all out. Jen is making her favorite dinner tonight. Harry is making her favorite dessert right now. I’m so worried about the future. I want her to go and have a great second year at college, but I don’t want her to go and be at risk of catching the plague. I want her to stay here and be safe. Basically all the same arguments I made last August, with a few pandemical twists. Mostly I just don’t want to miss her again. Selfish, yes, but it’s still true. At the same time, if they can keep the Covid bubble closed and stop her and the rest of the students from being exposed, then I want her to have a great semester. I want her to have a ball. She doesn’t leave for a little over a week, but her last weekend is a dad weekend so we’re giving her a send off a little early.

I feel a little better about my step son’s school plans now that I know he’s only going in person half of the time instead of all the time. I guess you could say I feel half better than full bad? Get it? I would feel full better if he was going full remote, but that’s probably going to require an outbreak in the high school and I don’t want that either. I want him home and safe.

Sports: The Bruins won their first Tuukka Rask free game. They are up two games to one in their first round series against the Whale. I have confidence in Jaroslav Halak, that’s not the issue. I just had more confidence in Rask. A Cup win seems less likely with Halak carrying them, but really given the way they played in the first few games into the return to play, I had lost most of my Cup confidence anyway. We’ll see how far they can go. I’d like to at least beat the friggin’ Whale.

The Red Sox are utterly atrocious. They are very close to being on pace for the lowest win/loss percentage in franchise history, and the franchise has been around for about 120 years or so…. that means they are really, really bad. We all knew it was coming though. They have one major league starter in their pitching rotation and he’s probably a #4 on a real staff. Maybe a #3. Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi together is a nice start for a rotation, but with Sale out getting Tommy John surgery, and E-Rod out with Covid-19 related heart issues, that just leaves Eovaldi and a bunch of minor leaguers and that is a recipe for complete disaster. Add a few hitters having epically bad seasons so far and you have a team that has a good shot at the #1 overall draft pick next year.

Music… 50/90 is 42% complete. I just added songs #20 and 21. I’ve got seven songs with rhythm guitars down that are waiting for lyrics and vocals. That’s it. 28 songs total so far. I need to get to 34 by the end of the month (50/90 takes place over three months and 50/3=16.67). I also want to have a 10 song (at least) album in a month for August. Five of the completed songs were started and finished this month, and three of the unfinished songs were started this month too. Those three are the top of the priority list right now, and I have to keep the new stuff coming so I don’t fall behind. I feel like I am way behind on things, even though I’m really just at the halfway point.

A bird just flew into the window, about two feet away from me. I hope he’s okay. It looked like it might have been a glancing blow. More like he bounced off than crashed.

We applied for vote by mail ballots recently, and our 9/1 Primary election ballots were delivered a couple of days ago. Will there still be a functioning USPS for us to mail them back? The shit stain of a president admitted publicly that he’s hamstringing the post office to tamper with the November election, and the response from those who stand as a check and balance against him? They went on vacation. Also, there is a global pandemic that is killing a thousand Americans a day so they went on vacation. If you still think your government represents you, then that should show you the truth.

That’s kinda a bummer note to end on. Here, let me make it worse by adding a couple of new songs. That should push us all off the ledge, right?

Back to School: Good, Not Great, News

We received some news on the plan for back to school and the news is a whole lot better than we thought it would be, but still not that great.

They are dividing the students into two groups, alphabetically. On day one, one group will be in the building and the other will be remote. On the next day they swap, and so on and so forth ad infinitim. Is ad infinitim the correct usage of that phrase? Did I spell it right? Does anyone care? Do I even exist?

So it’s good news that my step son won’t be going back in person full time. It’s bad news that he will still be going back half of the time. What’s best is that they took the decision out of our hands. The four parental types wanted one outcome, and the student himself wanted another. This way the school is making us split the difference down the middle.

Of course all of this planning will be heading straight down the shitter once they go back and kids, staff, and faculty start testing positive. Once we have a nice little outbreak on our hands we’ll be remote learning full time again. Bank on it. Also, this plan still puts the faculty in the building full time. I don’t see that happening, at least not everywhere. In my step son’s school system they seem a little more lax about Covid than in other areas, so maybe the faculty is down for it. In some parts of Massachusetts, I expect teacher walkouts. The unions are already saying they want remote and it’s just a matter of time before we start hearing about strike votes. I will fall 100% on the side of the teacher’s unions on this question. They did not sign up to risk their lives for the shit we pay them. Strike away, brothers and sisters.


I am starting to get really pissed off.

I have been in three or four discussions today on the topic of kids going back to school during the pandemic.

One started with a parent at a town meeting saying that her kid going back to school in person was worth the risk of two kids dying. It’s only two dead kids, she said.

Another started with, police and fire departments need to go back to work so teachers should go back too.

I just can’t believe that actual human people made these arguments in all seriousness. I mean, it’s only two dead kids, right? What’s the worry? It is infuriating! Fire departments go to work so teachers should too? Do teachers take the job with the understanding that it might cost their lives? I’m not a fire fighter, but I’m pretty sure they do. Likewise, I’m not a teacher but I’m going to take a wild guess that the answer is an emphatic and total NO! No they don’t! If you think a teacher should risk his or her life for their profession then FUCKING PAY THEM FOR IT. Again, I’m not a teacher but I am willing to bet that teachers don’t get hazard pay.

It’s only two dead kids, she said. Well ma’am, what if one of the two dead kids is yours? Is it worth the risk then? You fucking moron? Is it worth it if your kid dies, or is it only worth it if some other mothers’ kids die?

Have we as a people always been this evil? How could so many of us not have noticed?

Oh… and I won’t use that over sized first letter thing again, okay?

Back to School?

This just popped up in my iPhone’s news widget. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days stressing over back to school. The entire discussion is insulting. If the pandemic was bad enough to shut down schools in March, how is it not bad enough to stop a re-open in August? It’s absurd. The situation would need to be better now than it was in March and it is most definitely not better. It is worse. So very much worse. FIVE MILLION infections worse.

To quote the great Will Ferrell in Zoolander, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.


The question of what to do about school this year is changing from a disturbing hypothetical to an ugly reality.

My sister is a teacher. Her union is pushing for 100% remote school. Her district disagrees. I understand why, but how effective will physical class time be with the entire faculty fearing for their lives and the lives of their families? I can’t read the future, but I’m guessing the answer is “not very.”

My step son’s school district is offering both remote and in person options and letting the students choose. He emphatically wants to go with the in person option. He had a rough time with the at home school last year and he doesn’t want to risk his senior grades on doing it again. No amount of counter arguing has convinced him to change his mind. Clearly remote is the better option for everyone, but he wants to go back.

I don’t get the logic these school systems are using. There is a clear risk to the health of the students, faculty, and staff. It was enough of a risk to shut everything down back in March. Nothing has changed as far as the virus is concerned. Why then is re-opening the buildings even a consideration? My step daughter’s school is sort of a bubble, so her situation is different. She’ll be taking most of her classes remotely, but she’ll be doing it from her dorm. If they can keep the bubbles closed then they might have some luck. Of course, I don’t think the faculty or the staff are bubblin’, so maybe it will blow up in everyone’s face.

Public schools though… no bubbles there. How do we handle it? Ideally we would all go remote because that’s the smart thing to do, but since when are American’s smart? There has to be some way to lessen the chances of spreading infections from home to school and back again. Should we wear masks at home? Probably. Should school kids isolate themselves from their parents? The older the kid the more likely that works, but it seems pretty unlikely regardless of age.

We’ve been in a cosmic sized mess since March, and in a couple of weeks it’s going to get a whole lot messier. Frankly, I’m scared shitless.

How are you?

What is the Past Tense of Troubleshoot?

We’re about to have a quick little English language session. Bet you never thought you’d get something like that here, right? Ready for some knowledge? Ready to get your learn on for the day?

Here it comes.

I had an email come through my inbox this morning where the writer used the word “troubleshoot” in the past tense. They wrote something along the lines of, “we troubleshooted the issue.”

That both looked and sounded super wrong to me. Like, if the past tense of shoot is shot, then shouldn’t the past tense of a compound word ending in shoot end in shot as well? Troubleshot? That’s what I would have written, but is that correct? Off to The Google!

I searched for What is the Past Tense of Troubleshoot and it returned a bunch of hits. Most of the summaries said that both options were correct. Troubleshot is correct (thank you, I love being right), but troubleshooted is also correct (booooooo!!!).

There was one post from Quora that gave the best option. Shouldn’t the past tense of troubleshoot be…. wait for it…. Fixed?

Four for Four

Well, that’s all of us.  My step son’s school district has shut down for two weeks.  They are going to take a couple of days to try and setup some remote learning systems and start having online classes on Wednesday.

So Harry has high school classes at home, Bellana has college classes at home, Jen has work from home, and ol’ Robbie has work from home.  All for at least the next two weeks.

It’s going to be tough having all of us trying to work at the same time.  We’re going to get in each other’s way and we’re going to get on each other’s nerves, and if everything works out the way we want we will look back on this and see it as a successful waste of time.  A little sacrifice today will lead to an easier time for our health care professionals in the coming weeks.  That’s the goal at least.

We’re all in this shit show together, and we are up to the challenge.