Friday miscellany: Icy morning

We had something of an ice storm overnight. The middle and high school did OK but the elementary school lost power and they have not been able to get it back on. So, in this post-pandemic era, the 1st and 4th grader are doing virtual school on their school-issued iPads. Sometimes this works better than other times — both of them just stormed into my office seeking extra paper and a different iPad charger, respectively — but I guess the upside is there’s no longer any uncertainty about make-up days in June.

(Every time this happens it reminds me of the benefits of being able to work from home — no doubt many families are scrambling this morning, though some of the commuter train lines are down too so there may be delays all over the place.)

I have been trying to start reading again (beyond the daily Shakespeare stuff — I am now reading Romeo and Juliet and it’s fun to see Shakespeare hit his stride — really being Shakespeare). I recently finished Oliver Burkeman’s 4000 Weeks, and I just started Shelia Heti’s Pure Colour. I am re-reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

A lot of this is because I’ve realized I need to stop scrolling at night. This week’s terrible events really reinforced that. I’m returning to my early pandemic days’ policy of trying to be informed and constructive without losing hours perseverating over things I can do nothing about. I can read reputable news sources for 15-20 minutes a day (NY Times digital and we get a WSJ print subscription). I can support groups like Doctors without Borders that help pick up the pieces after all catastrophes. And be grateful for the unmerited blessing of living somewhere peaceful.

Speaking of blessings, I am also feeling grateful for hot water — something that would not normally make my gratitude list but is keenly missed in its absence. We did not have hot water for a while this week due to a construction snafu. Well, first we had only hot water, and then we had no hot water (an occasion for that game, “Would you rather?” — would you rather your plumbing produced no hot water or only hot water?). Now it is fixed and we have both hot and cold water and being able to take a hot shower AND have cold water come out of the tap when you want to drink it is kind of a mechanical miracle.

Not too much else to report. There may be some skiing for some folks and some ice skating for others this weekend. Lots of documentation with selling the other house. Hopefully a long run for me. The ice should melt this afternoon. Only a few more weeks until spring.

7 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Icy morning

  1. I’m curious about your thoughts on 4000 Weeks. I’ve been slowly reading through it in-between my fiction reading so I haven’t finished it but it seems like his thoughts on time are very different than yours. I’d love for you to do a review on this book. Stay warm this weekend. It’s chilly here in the pacific northwest as well.

  2. My kids still get snow days…with no online learning. I can’t decide if I like this (I’m not a fan of juggling all the devices) or if it would be easier (at least they have someone else directing part of their day).
    Today was such a snow day and it was brutal. I had a lot of work, they were antsy because Monday was a holiday.
    I will say I don’t think my two kids absorb anything during online learning (most of the time seems to be spent on classmates dealing with tech issues), so I often feel ready to throw all the laptops out of the nearest window…

  3. I’m also very curious about your thoughts on 4000 weeks. My daughter thought it was a game changer, but for me not so much. I feel like I’ve absorbed a lot of what he says from you and Cal Newport among others. Be intentional with your time, time opportunity cost, time passes anyway you might as well strategically plan some fun. I’d like to hear your take.

  4. I relate to what you say about doom-scrolling/media. I have a pet political issue that I care about immensely (but am not myself a politician or important to the issue) and I can get really sucked in to the social media posts about the issue. I hate that, but I also don’t want to disconnect from it entirely, because I want to comment/contribute $/sign petitions for it etc. I want to stay involved without it eating up all my free time.

    1. @Sarah – that is hard when there is something you care about immensely. What I’ve seen some people do is give monthly recurring donations to 2-3 groups doing work in the space that you know are doing good work. You can trust that they are going to use your money wisely, and if there is some new way your money would be helpful, they will be on it. You can also set a certain time budget, like I’m going to devote 1-2 hours per week to this cause. Each week you can think about what you want to do – but aim more for pro-active than just responding to whatever people are posting online. Like you identify a few legislators and write them this week and then next week some others and then the week after that you do something else. You’ll feel like you’re doing what you can to make a difference, but you aren’t giving it time you don’t have.

      1. Those are some really good suggestions- thank you! I like the idea of a recurring donation. Right now I am contemplating giving up social media for Lent. The only thing I “need” it for is for some of my kids classes where the parent communication mainly happens on Facebook.

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