Sep 20

Arrivederci, Augst

If we’re doing that thing where we blame everything on the year, and we are doing that thing, let us do it quickly. Let’s divest ourselves of September. Let us brush aside October and ignore November. Bring on the grimness of December and weird, unfulfilled holidays.

Or at least let us move past August. It’ll all be … different … by December. Better different? Who among us can say? It will be different-different. So let’s consider that.

The cats are in perfect agreement.

Let’s assume they are. Whenever they sit this closely together, I’m convinced, something is up, and it may as well be this. They’re trying, in their own cat way, to whisk away the calendar too.

You’re welcome, humanity.

On Saturday, we held a little miniature Olympic distance triathlon. The Yankee was supposed to do a formal one that day, but, you know, 2020. So, not having that opportunity, we ran the #GoRenGo tri.

We went out to the lake early in the morning. Early enough that we were out there alone. (Don’t think I didn’t notice the hour.)

And she swam a quick and easy 1,500 yards.

Exiting the water, she had a T1 right there on the lake and hopped on her bike and set out on a 24-mile ride.

I tracked her at two points on the road, and then she got back to the house for T2, and then set out for a nice easy 10K.

I followed her around on my bike for part of her run. She had a great swim and ride, but didn’t like her run. I’m looking at the times though, and she’s still amazing, even when I’m the only support on the course.

Aug 20

The preferred Alanis

It’s been a day. It’s been a day in a week. It’s been a day in a week in a month. It’s been a day in a week in a month in a year.

And it was a GREAT day to see this. Just play it.

It is quiet in the house. I am sitting by a window downstairs and, watching this a third time I noticed there are four or five other people in the video. I was too busy the first two times watching this mother doing her job, providing a stay-at-home anthem while holding her beautiful child.

It’s so, so perfect.

Aug 20

I had no idea

Did anyone lose some nice risers and a little canopy and some other stage implements? Because they’re just sitting out here in Dunn Meadow.

The university has set up several of these temporary outdoor venues. In addition to the county’s health restrictions the university has put their own rules in place to cap group sizes. And, whenever possible, they’re trying to get student groups to use the little places like this. They’re not all built the same, or the same size, and I’m sure there’s a strategy for all of that.

No one, I’m convinced, is capable of thinking of everything when it comes to restarting things anew in these curious circumstances. Every answer prompts a new half-dozen questions, who could have all the answers? It is encouraging to see all of the things they have thought of, and to see the way the university is investing in doing this as safely as possible. It won’t be perfect, but it’s a big, big effort.

And, to me, after the institutional-level stuff, it comes down to basic human habits and structures and our personal responsibilities.

My hands, for example, have never been as clean as they’ve been these last few months. In and out of the house, time for a sing-along. Pass a hand sanitizer at the office, rub-it-in, rub-it-in. Have to run an errand around time, take a hit off the travel stash.

Who knows what else I’ve avoided while trying to be diligent about the current public health crisis.

I learned something interesting today. This style of mask is slimming if you wear it upside down.

Imagine my chagrin when I saw that in a mirror. That should teach me to tie my mask as I’m walking from the parking deck to the building.

Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of people in our building in this first week of classes, so no one noticed and I was able to correct the problem. Dodged one there.

Dodge people. That’s good advice when you are committing fashion faux pas.

Aug 20

Kindly wear a mask

A friend of ours made us some really clever artistic masks. She found this pattern, which you can download for a minimal charitable donation. And since she’s crafty, she’s been making her friends — even us! — masks. She says it takes about 10 minutes per mask. I figured that’s for a person who really knows their way around the sewing machine. And then I saw tutorial video, using that pattern, and it took 14 minutes. And that was with the extra “Hey, look at this, because this is a tutorial and I am trying to show you the finer points of making this thing.” So it takes her 10 minutes, and she’s a charming friend who wants the people she cares about to be safe. And stylish.

And because I want the people I care about to be safe, I have a lot of masks now. I have three or four of these custom masks. I’ll wear these on days when I don’t have to interact closely with too many people. I have two the university sent me, which I’ll keep in the office as backups. I a big stack of high quality masks, which I’ll wear for those instances where I do have to work closely with others.

You can’t go onto our campus without wearing a mask. You’re not supposed to go into any non-private building in this county without a mask.

Listening to anecdotes of people I know well, and watching the grim numbers climb and climb and climb, and knowing what I’ve given up this year, I’ve come to a simple formulation. If you can’t wrap your mind around these simple concepts, I don’t have a lot of time for you.

We’re almost six months into this now. This didn’t sneak up on you. This is not a surprise. Something transmitted via droplets, or air, involves your respiratory system. (The external elements of which include your mouth and nose, if you are confused.) Take the necessary precautions. Avoid close contact with people whenever you can. Stay away from crowds. Don’t do silly things like restaurants or big communal events. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

Yes. Your friends are your friends. Sure, you know them. Of course they are nice people. They wouldn’t be your friends, otherwise. We aren’t talking about sharing needles. And it’d be silly to think they’d willingly do anything maliciously to you. They’re your friends, after all, but we aren’t talking about stealing your wallet.

When your charming, kind, sweet, professional, talented, educated, well-traveled, erudite friends hang out with you, sans precautions, you’re at risk. And so are they. Now this is where logic comes in and it gets fuzzy, but concentrate. If they’re hanging out with you in such a devil-may-care attitude it’s likely they are doing it with their other friends, too. And so on and so on. When one person down that chain gets sick, that’s where it begins, and it comes to you. And then you bring it to people you care about.

You must be proactive. The more proactive you can be, the better. Now, here’s the really, really tricky part. We don’t have to leave this to the fates. You can do those simple things — avoid close contact, crowds, restaurants and communal events and washing your hands and wearing a mask — for yourself and for others. Including those people you would say you care about.

Can’t do that? You’re reckless. You’re selfish.

These are facts; they aren’t up for discussion.

Aug 20

How we’re trying to keep safe

Walked into the television studio for the first time today. Some things will be different this semester, but a lot of it feels the same. There’s a goodness to it, being in a room of potential, a space where people start to see their dreams come true, under lights where their skills begin to sharpen. It’s nice to be in a space like that, even if it’s just to study some of the new safety considerations.

But, in a few weeks, we’ll have students back in front of the camera. A different kind of recording today, though.

It isn’t every day you get to talk to a professor of pediatrics, who is also a medical school dean and the vice chair for health policy and outcomes research. Dr. Aaron Carroll wears a lot of titles. He’s also the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and is leading Indiana University’s arrival and surveillance testing for the 2020 return to classes.

He took time out of his busy schedule to talk about sending children back to school, and all of the work the IU campuses across the state are doing to help keep their communities safe.

It’s a good listen. Dr. Carroll is a great presenter. He’s built an ambitious program here, which is probably starting as one of the most ambitious programs on a college campus in the country. And, when it matures to his committee’s full plans will most definitely be at the top of the list.

Consider, when they implemented the re-entry tests for students IU returning to campus it became the biggest testing center in the state, virtually overnight. Some 100,000 students were tested in the last few days, and that was just to re-enroll. And it won’t stop with that one test that allows students to return. Pretty soon they’ll be running thousands of tests a week as a matter of course.

The university sent out two masks to each person on campus. Masks are required. That was a $600,000 expenditure. As Dr. Carroll says in the interview, this is entire exercise on the university’s part is about money and will. The university has had the will to build out, at some considerable expense, a robust system designed to help try to keep us safe.

It won’t be perfect, no. Nothing will be, and I think we acknowledge that here, but there’s something to the effort, and Dr. Carroll is a capable person, surrounded by similarly talented folks. That just has to filter down to the rest of us. A lot of this will come down to individual choices. Mine, yours, and everyone else’s.