49 thoughts on “March 18, 2020: Tonal”

  1. Check out Béla Fleck and the Flecktones' Christmas CD sometime.
    I've been aware of throat singing for a long time, but only recently found out there are actually several types

    1. Tuvan throat singing is awesome.

      I love when my old maps/globes have Tannu Tuva on it. Such a neat little quirk to have from a (relatively) short span in history.

  2. WFH day 1 notes:
    It's cold in my basement. Going to get a sweatshirt.
    I've got better speakers here than at the office.
    EAR is on a super-cleaning regimen.

    1. Yes, on the cold basement. As someone who has worked from home a fair amount in the last 9 years, I can tell you a little space heater right next to you is a nice thing. Probably better to just wear warmer clothes, though.

  3. Registered to vote absentee for the first time since 2004 this morning. (Online; our deadline is midnight.) I wish the three states that held primaries yesterday had acted responsibly, postponed those elections on the grounds of natural disruption/suppression, & mailed absentee ballots to every registered voter.

    1. I have very mixed feelings about election delays. Elections are a pretty essential function of democracy. We should not be suspending democracy.

      At the same time, these are "just" primaries in many cases (exceptions include initiative and referenda; local elections in some cases).

      Sending ballots to every registered voter is a herculean lift that takes a lot of time to prepare for. You can't just all of a sudden change course on an imminent election. For sure, states should seriously consider implementing for the general election this fall and every election thereafter.

      What they can probably do is extend the election period and make it clearer that vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off in more places.

  4. With the shut in, I'm averaging a movie a night. It's a good escape.

    So far:
    Frozen 2
    The Farewell
    Quantum of Solace

  5. I've been super lucky with my set-up.

    Home is home. We bought a bunch of food and a new TV (cheap, but we didn't really have anything before, so now we have something) and some puzzles. I have a make-shift batting cage already set up in the basement. We've got a big yard.

    Philosofette is a teacher, and she's been thriving on coming up with new ideas for how to teach during this time. She wasn't even going to be teaching this year, then was only going to teach until December. But now she's really stepping up and saying "I'm here for a reason, let me help where I can." It's been really awesome. I'm stupid proud of her.

    Our school is planning to start up distance learning on the 30th, with what sounds like it's going to be a pretty considerable curriculum, and plans for distributing work, not just online stuff, some opportunities to use literature more directly and challenge the kids, etc. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

    I work alone, except for one part-time staff member. She'll be taking all next week off, and we'll go from there. I can do most of my work by phone or online, and am happy to keep meeting with people via those methods. I'll probably be putting some sort of notice out locally that I'm still available. I suspect that at a certain point some folks may want to review their estate plans (not to be cynical, but if people are sitting around all day, I'm guessing they'll think about that a bit). Plus, I have a whole office to myself, which means that basically my family has a second location where we can be while still being isolated. That is huge. We're going to set up a new computer that we bought for the kids in one of the rooms here, and they'll come here to do their school work, which will help keep everyone sane and make a cleaner division between school and home.

    We also have my in-laws who live a mile down the road on a farm site. We're more or less one family unit with them already, seeing them as often as we do.
    So we've made the decision to keep that going, with some adjustments. This gives us, essentially, a third location to be at while still being limited to just our family. Obviously with two households together we've got a little bit more exposure, so to cut down on that we'll be the ones doing all their shopping and such, so that they can stay at home. My father-in-law has diabetes, so I'm especially concerned for him. In fact, that's part of why we've decided to treat ourselves as a single household - it's keeping him from going out more, which he was inclined to do. My mother-in-law still works, but she has limited interactions with other people (and she does cleaning specifically, so basically she spends all day disinfecting stuff). We're still going to decrease our interactions with my in-laws as this goes on, and if any of us has known exposure or symptoms we'll obviously cut it off completely. But if I can go pick up my FIL's insulin for him and whatever else he needs, that's going to be big. And, for now, they're able to watch our kids as the school gets ready.

    1. I, on the other hand, have been super unlucky with my home setup. My kids' school has closed as of last Friday, so they are now home all day. Right now they are only officially closed through April 6, but seeing the way other counties and districts nearby are moving, I don't expect they're going back in person all year. My 6-year-old's kindergarten teacher sent out packets and online work for them to do, so he has things to learn. We've also been working on sight words with him, so he's got things to do. My 3rd grader, though, is another story. We've gotten nothing at all from his teacher, and considering how she's dealt with homework and extra work packets that we've gotten for "home instruction" when we've been out of town for a week, I'm guessing we're not getting much, if anything. He can access to a bunch of the online learning apps that they use in school from here at home, so that's something. And he loves school, reading, and doing math, so we won't have any trouble getting him to do educational work, but it'd be a lot better if we didn't have to make it all up ourselves.

      For work, my wife and I are both college teachers, so we are also both home at all times, moving things online as best we can. The plans at my college have changed seemingly daily. We right now are being asked to move as many classes online as is possible. The sections I'm teaching this semester all fall into the "can be taught online" category, so I'm now teaching astronomy online. We were originally told that we would meet students Monday and yesterday, and then have Wednesday and Thursday to get ready, and move online starting after that. Then, at 5:30 pm on Monday, they announced that we'd pause all classes until March 28 to get ready. Having more time to get ready is great, but the ever-shifting rules and expectations are a big pain. How can we plan for what we will do when everything changes from one day to the next? And, this is now online teaching for students who didn't sign up to be taking online classes. Supporting these students this semester is now my main goal going forward.

      The bigger work issue for me has been that I am currently department co-chair. If this was just a matter of getting my classes online, I would be fine. I've taught online before, I know how to use our available technology, I'm fine. But, there are people in our department who have never used our online learning management system, and now they are being asked to teach fully online classes. Good luck with that! The break in instruction is so that those people have time to learn what to do, and there are a large number of training sessions available for them throughout this week. But, considering the technical know-how and abilities of these people, I'm expecting these classes to be a big old mess. Plus, we have lab classes in our department. How do you teach a field geology class when you can't go in the field? How do you teach students to identify rocks and minerals when they can't be on campus to see/touch/scratch/taste the rocks and minerals? For now we are being told that they are working out a way for us to be able to hold some lab classes like that in person in some manner, but the way the rules change daily, I don't feel very confident that we can actually bank on that still being true in 10 more days. Again, how are we supposed to make these plans when we don't know what we're planning for?

      But, if these difficulties were all, I still would not be all that stressed out. The biggest home issue we are dealing with is that we started major construction on our house in mid February. We're adding an addition, getting a new, bigger, better kitchen, adding a bathroom downstairs, installing heating and A/C that will actually keep the house reasonably the same temperature, all new flooring on the first floor, etc. When it's done, it's going to be awesome. But right now, oof. We currently have the living room, dining room, and upstairs bedrooms available to us, but that's it. We don't have a kitchen. Our fridge is in the garage, and I've been getting by with the grill, instant pot, and air fryer. But no sink downstairs makes all that harder, and doing dishes in a bathtub is not ideal. We don't have heat, and we currently don't even have all the walls enclosed. Living in Southern California means we're not at risk of fully freezing, but the low last night was 41. It's real cold inside right now.

      If any of these pieces were happening on their own, we'd be fine. I mean, we signed up for being this limited during our construction, but we also expected that we'd be able to leave the house during that time. We planned to go out of town to go skiing next week; the mountain is closed. We figured we'd only be home in the evenings and weekends, so we could deal with the construction mess. But being in it all day, every day? This is rough. If it was either construction or quarantine, we could get through it. But both? I think we're going to be stretched to our limits here.

      We'll get through it. This too shall pass. We will make it through to the other side, but getting there is going to be difficult.

      1. Holy wow. I cannot imagine how tough that would be with the construction too. Sending good thoughts.

      2. Thank you all for the kinds wishes, and for reading my long, drawn out list of complaints. I know there are others in worse shape than we are in. We are healthy, still have jobs with two incomes, and have a place to live. Everything feels difficult to do, but it can be done.

          1. Would he need to be admitted to the WI Bar? is there any reciprocity?

            I'm not sure how lawyerin' works.

        1. Am I right in remembering you did your own title stuff when you moved and didn't use a title company (and thus saved $TEXAS on closing costs)?

  6. My employer has announced that pretty much anyone that can work from home will be, leaving ~400 remaining in the HQ (less than 1/10 normal). They are encouraging flexible work schedules to help with family obligations as well.

    1. Yeah, same here, with limited office coverage. I'll be able to work from home probably 3 days per week for now if not more.

  7. Our county (literally, Yolo) announced a shelter-in-place directive today, joining our bay area neighbors.

  8. Two DoD hospital ships being deployed - one to NYC. Hey, one of them looks like the Diamond Princess with a paint job!

    1. Sadly, those ships are capable, but obsolete. It’s going to take the Comfort a good while to get on-station from Norfolk; she’s undergoing maintenance & tops out at 17 knots. DoD has known it needs new medical facilities afloat for quite a while.

      He also invoked the Defense Production Act. I’ll let folks read up on that one and assess their comfort levels accordingly.

  9. I have a job interview on Monday and today they informed me that we’ll be doing it via video conference instead of in person. So that should be interesting.

        1. I'm envisioning the biggest conference room in the building and interviewing from about 30 feet apart...

          1. it was the biggest room but it was more like 10 feet. Good acoustics, though!

            Interviews next week are switching to phone only

            1. I was about to hire a new IT guy. Still need to hire, but how do I onboard a new employ when we are supposed to shelter-in-place?

              (I HAVE to, because my IT guy is about to go on paternity leave).

  10. So, talked with the Girl. No panic yet in Russia, although there are rumors about Moscow being locked down.

    State Dept directive is come home from Foreign or prepare to shelter in place. I am expecting that to cause short-term travel chaos. She's probably safest staying put for now.

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