Jack’s Walk

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Our weather has been fabulous for the past few days, with lots of sunshine and temps hovering around 18ºc. It feels more like September than November, and Jack and I have been spending our days outside. Jack is still having trouble with an arthritic left shoulder, so we haven’t been going very far, but Bubba is content to lie on his bed, basking in the sun while I do yard work. We have the flower beds cut back and tucked in for winter, we’ve gotten rid of most of the carpet of leaves that fall from our 2 red maples ( I like to keep a light protective leaf cover), the hoses are put away, the patio furniture is covered, the annuals have been uprooted and tossed, and I’ve harvested the last of the tomatoes. There really isn’t much left to do outside, but it’s too darn nice to stay inside, so I might just take the day off and find a good book to read in the back garden. Housework can wait. I have a long winter of Covid confinement ahead of me to get caught up on indoor chores. Summer in November is a gift not to be wasted.

The good news is that Jack’s shoulder is improving, and he should be able to resume normal activity soon. He’s been getting bored with just short walks down the street and back, and he’s more than ready for a bit of adventure. Honestly, I am, too. I’ve hardly used my camera since Jack went lame, and short walks around the block are boring for me, too. I have a backlog of photos from the earlier part of autumn, though, and I thought I’d share them over the next few weeks. Both photos today were taken along the Thames River in mid-October.

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If You Need a Gun, You Are Not Free

I peeked into the Trumpverse a bit and what I saw was unsurprising, but it surprised me anyway. I did not go to Breitbart or some similar far-right downright fascist propaganda sites. I just went to a YouTube channel that I had a reason to believe will have a high percentage of Trumpists in its following and I looked at comments under the only one video about recent politics the channel is hosting. I did not linger for too long, I did not even watch the whole video, just a few minutes and a few comments sufficed. This tiny window into the mind of a regular trumpist was informative, although I do not know what can be done with that information if anything.

From where I stand, Trumpism is just a new flavor of fascism. It is about the government controlling people, dictating what they can and cannot do with their private lives, in their private homes, sometimes even with their own bodies.

From where at least some Trumpists stay, the opposite is superficially true. They think that Biden is a socialist and that he is going to try and control them and take their personal freedoms. Their position with regard to him is the same as the position of leftists is in regard to Trump. And they despair and fear for their future after Biden’s win just as leftists despaired and feared for their future four years ago.

The problem seems not to be whether one values freedom, but what one considers to be freedom. Due to the main focus of the site I was visiting, there was a strong bias towards one uniquely American thing – guns, guns, guns. They see the right to own guns as the most important freedom one of them all, and they think that by having guns they are safeguarding all their other freedoms against a potential governmental overreach.

Which is, of course, bullshit. In modern times any uprising in which the government’s armed forces do not join in with the people is doomed to fail. Rifles, handguns, and knives are no match for tanks, rockets, and drones. But they really, really believe their fantasy that the right to have guns keeps them free and that is why they are/were voting for Trump and Republicans. They fear Biden is going to confiscate their guns and thus, by proxy, take away all their freedoms.

I do not believe these people can be reasoned with, but it seems to me they are overlooking one important aspect. If they need a gun to feel safe from an imminent governmental overreach, then they already are not free. Not only are they shackled by an unreasonable fear of something they would be powerless to oppose if it happened anyway, but they also keep the whole society in shackles of another fear – of random mass shootings, of armed militias going berserk, of random gun accidents. And if their fear of governmental overreach necessitating armed opposition were justified, then the government is already completely dysfunctional.

I lived my whole life in a society without guns, and a third of that life in a totalitarian regime. Fear of random stranger shooting up a school or a workplace never was on my radar, indeed I did not even know such things exist on the scale they do in the USA well into my thirties. And when the totalitarian regime fell, it was not because people took arms and stormed the whatever, it fell because the armed forces refused to shoot unarmed citizens and/or the top brass were hesitant to give such orders (personal anecdotes and historian descriptions vary). Having more guns in that situation would not make a difference except turning the Velvet Revolution into a Scarlet Revolution. I am not saying that armed revolutions are not sometimes necessary, or that they neer worked, but I am saying they do not work as these people imagine them.

But as far as I could see, the gut-wrenching fear and despair at Biden win were genuine. They really think that socialism means the state is going to get them, shackle them, and ruin their country. They really, honestly believe that Republicans and Trump were and are doing a good job, for them personally and for the American people as a whole.

Guns and abortins, these two issues are the only ones that matter to them. And only Republicans give them what they want.

And I am at a loss how to mend divides soo deeply entrenched in society. How do you snap someone out of a whole life of propaganda?

Teacher’s Corner: When you don’t like the results, change the rules

©Giliell, all rights reserved

So, Covid keeps raging, and of course it does not stop at the school gates. No matter what our politicians like to say, schools are not safe. How the fuck could they be? They masterfully combine the three Cs that you should avoid: Crowded places, Close contact, and Confined spaces. The kids still sit next to each other, 25-30 in a small room, teachers have to go to them to talk to them, and opening the windows every 20 minutes isn’t going to save our necks.

Source: WHO

As a result, at our school there are currently three classes and seven teachers in quarantine, and we’re not the unlucky ones who for some reasons have all the outbreaks while every other school is safe. Across the state many schools have similar issues, we’re close to having to send home kids because there are simply no teachers left. #1 hasn’t had a full school day in weeks, much to the chagrin of her younger sister they prioritise staffing the younger classes.And our politicians are noticing that this may mean school closures through the back door and their idea is to drums just change the quarantine rules. Right? Many experts agree that German quarantine rules are what keeps us comparatively safe compared to our neighbours: If you had close contact with a Covid patient, you have to stay at home for the next two weeks. And I mean AT HOME. You may go to your garden, if you have one, but no shopping, walks, visits except medical appointments. Your wages are covered, and your boss must abide by this. But the idea is now that kids should not quarantine for so long, or that we should quarantine the classes within school to see if more cases appear. Because that’s totally doable and teachers will be very happy to be relegated to the plague pool for two weeks. Not that this would solve our staff problems… There’s no evidence that the old rules are over the top, on the contrary, but they are inconvenient, so why not scrap them?

In order to appear to be doing something, we got new rules and a letter from the ministry. Now all kids from year 5 upwards have to wear masks all the time while in the building. For teachers, masks are still only “strongly recommended” if we are in a situation where distance cannot be kept. Because ordering us to wear them would mean they’d have to provide the masks and provide us with the breaks usually mandated when wearing N95 masks. The letter was a whole other thing, it could have been written by US Republicans.

First it started with the not-technically-a-lie claim that only a small fracture of kids and teachers has contracted Covid. Which is true, but which is also true for the rest of the population. Even with 120.000 cases a week, only 0.2% of the population has got Covid or something like that. They use numbers that look low, instead of using the ones we’re used to, like cases per week per 100.000, because that’s how that graphic looks like:

Next is the flat out lie that Covid is spreading because people are not following the rules in their private lives, which is complete bullshit, because we cannot trace 75% of infections. But of course, the infections in your private life can be traced. A spouse who picks it up somewhere (there’s no case of anybody ever contracting Covid while shopping- that we know of) and then passes it on to their spouse isn’t some irresponsible party animal. In short, the letter is infuriating and insulting. And then they have the gall to say “oh, we know you already have a lot on your plate, here’s some more”.

Because on top of the missing staff, we need to organise remote teaching for the quarantined classes and set dates for the kids who have been at home all the time because they themselves or close family members are vulnerable. And they’re getting more, because parents who felt safe to send them when numbers were low understandably don’t feel safe to do so anymore. Which means that for each test, we need to set a time and place and teacher where the kid can write the test alone. we need to set times when they can pick up and drop off their work. That takes a hell lot of resources.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, we’ve got the Covidiots breathing down our backs. they are circulating nonsense letters in which schools should take legal responsibility for all damages suffered from wearing masks, which isn’t just bullshit, but also impossible, since a school isn’t a legal entity that could claim legal responsibility. they even tried to organise protests and wanted to hand out “free, useless masks” to children on their way to school. Yeah, you can imagine how kindly I look on strangers who want to give things to schoolkids…

Thankfully it seems like they cancelled that idea (with a few exceptions). In many cities police was present in front of schools and we were ready as a crisis team. My own kids were instructed to loudly yell if they were approached and I must say, I would have taken great pleasure in setting the police on anybody approaching them. So, teaching is great fun right now. Not. Let’s hope the news about the vaccine is as good as it sounds. 6 weeks till Christmas…

Degupdate: Hello Gracie

A health degu group  consists of at least three animals, which is why we started out with Candy, Estelle and Katja. After poor little Katja died so early, Candy and Estelle were left alone, which is ok, but not ideal, so we got a third one this Wednesday: please meet Grace, or Gracie as she is affectionately called.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

She is still so tiny, and very shy. Now the degus need to get accustomed to each other, and that takes time, patience and good nerves. Sadly the last element is in short supply right now. We put a fence up between the big part of Degustan and the small adjacent compartment and gave Gracie the small one. They need to get used to each other , so we let them out together yesterday and man, Candy was brutal. She’s the leader of the group and right now, Grace is an intruder who needs to be chased away. Today we didn’t let them out together. they can see each other through the fence, smell each other, and hear each other.

And then I discovered some soft poop in Gracie’s part and nearly freaked out because that was how Katja went. But fortunately our breeder reassured me that for the first few days that’s nothing to worry about. That lady is really how a breeder of pets should be: I can always reach her by mail with my questions, and she’s always happy to receive pics of the degus. She really cares about the animals, not just about some money on the side.

And here’s a bonus pic of Candy, who is lovely, but not the smartest cookie, as she found the jar with the food open, nicked her favourite treat, and then buried it in the jar for later…

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Teacher’s Corner: The Best Negative News Ever

My Covid test came back negative. This time. And since my sister will have one of those fancy new quick tests at work tomorrow, we scheduled for a hug.

In other news, the situation in schools is terrible. Today the second class had to go into quarantine. From Monday on all kids in secondary school will have to wear masks. Teachers as well, but only cloth or paper.

The ministry refuses to order us to wear N95 masks, because then they’d have to pay for them AND regulations say that you have to take 30 Min of break after 75 min. So we all wear them for hours straight to b protect ourselves and the school from collapsing.

And then you get the parents who are blaming schools and teachers for the regulations of the ministry. Fun times.

The Art of …

… blades. These photos are from the 2019 Knife Awards, a yearly competition held in Atlanta by Blade, the world’s’ #1 knife publication. The event wasn’t held in 2020 due to Covid, but they are planning a June 2021 show, for those of you interested aficionados. Today, I’m sharing just the best custom knives from the show, but if you want to see the full cadre of winners the link is here. I’ve saved the best of show for last. All photos are from Blade Magazine.

Best Art Knife, by Veronique Laurent

Photo from Blade Magazine

[Read more…]

More Muskrats

This time I took the proper camera and was rewarded with some cute.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Look at those whiskers

©Giliell, all rights reserved Paddlefootses

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Sadly, what it’s swimming in is white bread. No matter how many signs you put up, telling people that feeding bread to the ducks and fish and muskrats is bad for them, some people always know better, or think that when they do it it’s different. Which explains a lot about the current shit we’re in.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Water in the ear. Happens to the best of us.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved