Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wednesday midmorning things

 * Still feeling "Groundhog Day" things hard. Yes, there's a vaccine likely coming, likely sooner than we feared it might take, but it's still gonna be months, and there's what feels like the eternal now to get through. 

It doesn't help that it's been persistently warm and dry. It feels like summer just keeps hanging on, like we're stuck in August (well, *OHIO* August, where it's in the upper 70s-low 80s, but still). I would like some changeable weather; that breaks the monotony of my days a little.

* No post yesterday, I was just too wiped out after grading the entire biostats exam in the afternoon. Grading is more arduous and more headache-inducing on BlackBoard. It may be better for the students - I'm sure my typed feedback is easier to read than the chicken scratches I usually generate, but peering at blurry cell-phone camera photos of their hand calculations gives me eyestrain and headaches.

* Today is Veteran's Day, formerly known as Armistice Day. I think we've largely forgotten that last part of it - in the US, World War I is pretty poorly taught in school (I don't know much about it, and I'd argue I paid better attention and had a better education than many). I guess at one time it was also a day to reflect on the horrors of war and to remind others that war is not something to be lightly entered in to? 

I also think of something that happened years ago now - I walked into my Biostats class to a lively argument. People were arguing if today was Memorial Day or Veteran's Day. I said it was Veteran's Day, and it was the marker of the end of hostilities in World War I, and I said "The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, does that ring a bell?" 

It did not.
I don't know if it was my unusual history (I was, at that time, 10-15 years older than my students; I am still older now) and I had family members (a great-uncle whom I never met was in the trenches in France; my paternal grandfather missed being sent Over There to be an experimental pilot by one or two days - he arrived in NYC on the train to get his marching orders and found everyone partying because the war was over, and I often wonder if I'd still exist if he had been a few months earlier or if he'd have died over France - or of influenza on the troop ship coming home).

But anyway, I learned about Veteran's Day - or as some older members of my family still called it, Armistice Day - from an early age. Partly because my mom started out as a history major (and had done something akin to a "senior thesis" in high school on WWI, perhaps because of her uncle) but partly because my grandmother and other relatives talked about it, and I tended to absorb things like that as a kid.

And I do wonder, how much of that sort of casual cultural transmission of all kinds has been lost? I've read about how some people never learn basic cooking because they're not taught it, and in some families, the parents' insistence that "learning is the school's responsibility!" means they don't work with their kids much. (My family was just the reverse. I would likely not have learned to cook from Home Ec in school, but  my mom and dad taught me lots - including my mom very patiently letting me bake endless cakes and cookies because I liked baking more than I liked chopping vegetables or some such. And I'd definitely not learned to sew, or some of the basic home-repair stuff, or some of the map-reading stuff...)

* I dunno. I wonder also if some of my malaise of these past months has been that my brain has been too idle. I should probably be reading more...I might try to read an article or two (soil invertebrates, probably) during the "supplemental office hours during lab time" this afternoon. And I've added a few historical documentaries* to my Amazon watchlist, including one on WWI and one on the 1918 influenza.


(*Yes, yes, I know: many of those are not good. But these looked like PBS branded or at least approved ones, so I expect there will be no references to ancient aliens.)

One of the ongoing questions I frankly have is: how did the 1918 pandemic manage to end? There was no vaccine, there were not good therapeutics....was this a case of the "wrong kind of" herd immunity, where just enough people got sick, and a lot died but enough recovered, that the virus quit spreading, or did nonpharmaceutical interventions manage to defeat it? (Masks, though there seem to have been as many vocal anti-maskers back then as now). I dunno, still looking for hope maybe even *before* next summer when supposedly we see a full roll-out of the vaccine.

I will say I am very tired of the disruptions, and I am very apprehensive about what's coming in the next weeks; Tulsa is already saying that they can't take any more ICU patients, and I know our hospitals are approaching capacity and I'm wondering if I'm going to have to once again trust Wal-Mart's curbside pickup. (Though Pruett's does it too, but they charge $5 a go, though I might be more prone to use them because that surcharge tells me they're probably paying their workers more fairly).

I usually do Christmas shopping mostly online but this year extra much. Though it makes me sad not to make my occasional trips to Target or elsewhere to see the pre-Christmas bustle. I think I'll have to cut that out for this year, though. Our case rate is going up alarmingly and while Grayson County is a little better, still best not to be out and about.

* Another night of bad dreams. I guess you'd say "bad" - in one, I had engineered a way to get up to my mother's for Christmas without coming into contact with other people, and I was excited to get to go, and then when I woke up and realized that not only was it not real but I couldn't remember what my idea for safe travel was, I was sad. And also dreaming about the people (and cats) I've lost in the last decade plus, having them alive again inside my subconscious and that made me sad.

Probably I don't have enough people in my life now and that's why I dream about dead ones :(

But I don't know how you get more people in your life, ESPECIALLY in a pandemic. I've never been good at making friends.

I just want to either sleep without dreams, or have dreams that don't leave me unsettled or unhappy. I think part of the reason I've been putting off bedtime later than is really healthy for me is that I want to avoid them. 

And nothing really prevents it - not light entertaining tv, not reading a diverting book, not exercising a few hours before bed. My brain is just gonna do this to me for some reason.


Roger Owen Green said...

re WWI. I probably know as much as you. Yet I was just reading We Return Fighting, about how that war shaped "modern black identity." A lot more about the war than I expected, and a shocking amount I did not remember or know at all.

Anonymous said...

I’ve read that lots of folks are having vivid dreams these days, so you’re not alone. I certainly sleep has not been restful in months.—Grace