Max silhouetted against glorious fireworks

Plague update 2

I didn’t think America was ever going to take black lives seriously in my lifetime. I’m close to thinking we might. There was finally a murder so slow and egregiously awful by police that it seemed fewer people came out to defend it than normal. People protested – which has happened before, but this time the police responded swiftly and brutally all over the nation, which helped more people realize the urgent need to demilitarize and defund or abolish police departments all over the nation.

More people have been murdered by police and by right wing activists. More people are seeing that there is significant infiltration of right wing racist groups into military and civilian armed forces like the police and the national guard. Significant effort seems to be put into either pretending the grievances we list are fake or that protesters are the same as rioters or into sparking riots to give a chance for crackdowns or to trigger broader societal conflict and breakdown.

The plague of systemic racism is getting acknowledged and the movement is being recognized enough to be co-opted. Many states have decided to paint a road with “Black Lives Matter” which is nice. None have revoked qualified immunity. Still, this co-option is a good sign – people are uncomfortable enough to start making the most basic gestures. DeBlasio still sucks. He can’t get the road painted in front of Trump Tower because he sucks. He and the City Council failed to defund the NYPD, instead shuffling money and police officers around.

Still the streets fill with people angry that they have to fight for simple recognition that black lives matter and the police are not here to protect or serve them. Even in the tiny village of Saugerties, people are showing up every day to stand vigil with their plague masks on.

I hope that we can skip reforms and channel some of our vast wealth into things that benefit people instead of control them.

In our home, we are much more settled into a routine. I’ve got a space to work. Max has rules around how he can earn precious screentime by doing workbooks or reading a new book. Zelda has similar… She’s learning to count and does M&M math with me because she’s insatiably into chocolate. Sam’s growing an impressive number of things outside, where the filthy dirt is. I’m no farmer, but it’s really nice to eat a sandwich with your own lettuce in it! Today she showed me where beans are coming up near some corn.

It’s been a ton of activity around here for home improvement. I’ve built a pretty large stone patio by leveling one stone at a time. Sam came up with the idea of putting an outdoor rug over it and it looks great – gotta finish the edges somehow though.

Sam’s gardening has been huge – we’ve got plants everywhere and it looks amazing. Together, we built some raised planters and they are full of the three sisters: corn, beans and squash. She tore out our old sink since there was a leak that screwed up the cabinet and we put in the replacement. We also tore out the old vent exhaust light and put in a new one – plus a better light for the entranceway. Sam bought a tiny washer and got it installed near the kitchen so we can continuously wash clothes. Speaking of continuously washing, we have to continuously wash dishes since we don’t have a dishwasher and don’t want to be set upon by insects.

We celebrated July 4th in style with a TON of fireworks. The neighbors applauded.

I’m working too many hours because work bleeds into everything when it is so close. I also think we are all sick of sitting around the house – the newness has worn off and we crave change. I started running with Zombies, Run to explore the neighborhood. I registered for a virtual fitness championship, and tomorrow afternoon I’m going to try to submit my first workout.

We’re still getting out and exploring.

That picture is from earlier on the 4th. To get here you park your car by the side of a road on the path through the Catskills on the way to hunter mountain. You hop a guardrail and navigate the rock fill to get down to this paradise of mountain streams and waterfalls everywhere.

Hike down a bit and we came to little pools dug into the bedrock, natural water slides and everywhere it was gorgeous.

It was amazing. The mostly black and brown families around us had managed to bring music, barbecues, hookahs, kids – it was amazing. We left as it got packed. When I got to the road, of course the police were ticketing and towing cars. We got a $75 ticket.

Worth it.

The federal government is paralyzed from the top down, offering no solutions, only misinformation and confusion. As NY is beginning to be less wildly dangerous, other states are beginning to see their lax policies have the same payoff as Cuomo and DeBlasio’s initial bungling. Here in Saugerties I see some restaurants reopening with “social distancing” but it’s very poorly observed. Here’s an idea: people can’t be trusted to make smart decisions when they are drinking. So no wonder I’m seeing even in big open spaces people hopping from group to group, saying hello and hugging with masks around their necks. Places that haven’t seen ice trucks holding bodies are probably going to have to experience it for themselves.

I told Max we might not be back in Brooklyn for a long time or that we might sell our place so he could have a place with a backyard and more room. He seemed heartbroken by the idea – I think I really messed up. He could articulate that he missed it and it was special to him. But given that we think there’s very little chance the schools can safely reopen by September, what can we do? I think about how I never felt attached to the second place we moved to in Colatown.

As always, our problems pale in comparison to what’s happening around us.

Since my internet connection is crucial to my work these days, I wrote a little utility to graph ping time so I can see if things are going wrong early. I’ll neaten it’s up and share it.

Just looked up and realized it’s tomorrow so I’m gonna schedule this to publish in a few hours and get some sleep. Let this be a reminder to me to never mess with .htaccess rules again.

But wait, there's more

2 thoughts on “Plague update 2

  1. Awesome to see all the good things going on. The place you hiked to looks AWESOME. Have to find a place like that around here.

    I’ve been struggling with the idea that we’re probably not even halfway through this shit, and it’s so depressing. We have a solid routine at home, and I enjoy being here, but I hate all the things the kids will miss out on in the coming year.

    Penn is at least being mostly reasonable about not pressuring us to be required to teach in person if we don’t want. I hope they’re planning for a more major disruption of higher ed, cause it seems like it’s coming.

    1. The systems we live on top of were increasingly hollowed out, just in time, on demand, and backed by blood. They seem fragile.

      The kids are all doing their best but who can tell how a year of being vaguely zoom schooled will work.

      It seems pretty obvious that we need to decenter offices, pay people to not work, defund police departments, fund social fabric and social work, dramatically increase the teacher to student ratio.

      I don’t see those things happening under Trump or Biden.

      Hang tight bud!

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