2020 is the year of “what’s next?” Remember back in January, the big news was President Trump skating easily though an impeachment trial thanks to the spineless jellyfish known as Senate Republicans. In the several thousand years (in pandemic time) since then, we’ve had nearly nine months of coronavirus-mandated stay at home orders and nearly 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 thanks to, surprise!, criminal negligence (at best) from the top leaders in our country. Protests have erupted over social injustice and continuing racism, and now people are killing each other over it — violence encouraged and fomented by, again, the top leadership in the country. People have lost their jobs thanks to the shutdown, the government has failed to pass meaningful legislation to help those most desperately in need, and somehow wearing masks to protect people from our germs became a political act. At home, school started… and it’s exactly like the rest of the year, just another Zoom call.
Once again, the coronavirus pandemic hits home — literally. On Wednesday, Benji started second grade at his new school… from his little closet-office in his bedroom.
One interesting thing about this is that I get to be a fly on the wall if I want. I can hear what the teacher tells the class during synchronous learning time, and then follow up with him during asynchronous learning time. Asynchronous is a heck of a word for second graders to absorb, but the kids will learn what it means through direct experience.
I mentioned a bit ago that Dad and I were taking Benji backpacking. Long story short, it didn’t happen. The first week we planned to go, the forecast deteriorated rapidly and when the day came, it poured rain, with even more rain in the mountains where we’d planned to go. We postponed a week, to August 27 and 28. We obtained backpacks and got even more ready to go.
Then, several days before we were to leave, I started having the kind of gastrointestinal distress that you really don’t want to have on a hiking trip. Let’s just say I never wanted to venture far from a restroom, and I didn’t fancy using the bushes for that business. I hoped it would pass quickly (so to speak), but no such luck.
This summer, stretching both infinitely long and impossibly short, comes to a close this coming Wednesday, September 2, as Benji starts second grade. Most of the summer we spent uncertain about schooling — in person? hybrid? all online? — but assuming all online. A month or so ago the school district confirmed our assumptions, ending that speculation but opening up a world of further speculation about how all-online would work.
About 10 days ago, answers started coming in. At first, we eagerly consumed every message, discussed it, thought about the repercussions and how we’d deal with whatever information in contained. But what started as a trickle soon turned to a flood, a veritable deluge of messages, often several in a day coming from all different entities: the district, the school principal, the teacher, the school nurse… At one point, I counted over a dozen school-related emails in 10 days.
My Dad and I are planning on taking Benji on his first-ever backpacking trip overnight Thursday to Friday. The plan is to go to a place called Heliotrope Ridge on Mt. Baker. We’ve been packing and preparing for a few days, gathering up all the backpacking gear and supplies we’ll need, and I keep oscillating between “wow, that’s a lot” and “we really don’t need that much.”
The big thing is backpacks. I’m the only one of us who owns a backpacking pack these days; Dad purged his long ago, figuring he’d never be backpacking again. REI no longer rents this type of gear, so that’s a challenge for Dad. And then there’s Benji: We definitely don’t have any kid-sized sleeping bags or backpacks. He won’t carry much, but he’ll have to carry at least his clothes, food, water, and sleeping bag… and probably at least one stuffed animal. I’m definitely not carrying stuffed animals for him! Fortunately, my parents have some neighbors who backpack with their kids, and they’ve very generously agreed to let Benji borrow a kid-sized pack and sleeping bag.
As the pandemic has continued, I’ve kept riding and taking pictures of my bike. I mentioned this behavior change in my first bike selfies post, and to an extent I do continue taking pictures of my bike while I’m out riding. Here’s a few places I’ve been in the last couple months.
Yesterday I had a conversation with my boss that’s still bothering me. In it, I mentioned that I had some pages I felt very proud of going out in today’s release. My enthusiasm for my pages made me realize I hadn’t connected with other team members about what they were working on for months. As I thought about it more, I realized that with the current work from home situation, I don’t have the everyday encounters that give a sense of what other people on my team are doing when it doesn’t directly impact my work. So I suggested to my boss that we offer an opportunity for our team to showcase projects they’ve worked on recently that they’re particularly proud of, possibly in our standing team meetings.