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Pandemic Restrooms

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:34pm

Every day, more signs, posters, flyers, reminders about pandemic health and safety appear around campus. At this rate, the restrooms in our office building will be wallpapered in signage by Halloween. Today’s addition to the door into the two-stall men’s room:

The commodes are new-ish, and there’s a touchless paper towel dispenser, but pretty much everything else appears to be original to the building. This wooden stalls create a look and feel that’s very Hogwarts – but the building went up in 1915, just before the Spanish flu pandemic. I wonder if the college put up posters to exhort masking and washing hands.

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Categories: Citizens

Covid Move-In Day

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 5:08pm

Today was arrival day for first-year students at Carleton – the Class of 2024! I felt a touch of melancholy all day at the atmosphere: dreary weather, parents and freshmen moving into the dorms on strict shifts, everyone wearing masks and maintaining distance, small quiet groups instead of the big boisterous crowds… It’s just not right! But it’s also reality. More happily, I got in touch with my four FY advisees today. We’ll meet tomorrow morning at 10, which is going to be a nice moment.

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Categories: Citizens

Falldemic

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Mon, 09/07/2020 - 6:12pm

Today, the weather turned dramatically, shaving off 30º F and turning from windy sun to overcast rain. Not only did this mean that I had to scotch plans for a ride, but also that fall has started, at least in the practical sense that I needed an extra layer when I went outside to today.

And if fall has started, then the pandemic has now touched – harmed! – all four seasons. We joked in April about how difficult lockdown would be during the winter, and thanks to Trump’s ineptitude, we might now get a chance to see. At the least, we’re going to have to read the dismal news on the pandemic while enduring the dismal autumnal drizzle. And today, students started coming back to Carleton, which means that those poor first-years are always going to remember literal and figurative clouds hanging over their first days of college.

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Categories: Citizens

Bike riding in a pandemic

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sun, 09/06/2020 - 12:21pm

Today marks the thirteenth straight weekend that I’ve gone for a longish bike ride with one or more friends.

Till this summer, I’d gone years without riding with anyone, ever since getting out of the habit of the Tuesday-night gravel rides that the club here in town organizes (or used to, in the Before Times). Pressures at home made me stop, but now with teenagers instead of elementary school kids, it’s easier – if not painless – to get out the house on a weekend morning for a long ride – 30 up to 60 or so miles so far.

It’s been absolutely great to do these rides – physically, socially, emotionally. I have not amassed this many bike miles in many, many years, which can only pay off when or if I can race this winter. And I’ve turned a corner with my riding, where going for a ride, even a short one (like the 20-ish miler yesterday evening with Pete), feels wonderful – but where a 60-miler feels even better.

The pandemic has constricted almost everyone’s social life; mine is largely now messaging with a few friends, talk at work (which isn’t really a real social life), workouts with one other guy a few evenings a week, and the occasional evening beer with a couple people at most. Plus the bike rides, which have been 3-5 hours of conversation about politics, the pandemic, work, Carleton, etc. etc. It’s wonderful. I love the rhythms of these bike-ride conversations, which appeal both in being Guy Talk and in being chats with like-minded friends – and which are thus very emotionally satisfying without being soul-searches. I always end the rides feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied – and maybe spiritually too, since it’s hard not to like scenes like this:

But. Given the constant talk about physical distancing, about masking, about washing hands and such, it’s a bit weird to spend so long in relatively close proximity to several other humans. It feels wrong, even if we’re pretty far apart from each other. I have to keep reminding myself that this is normal and relatively healthy, that riding bikes was a perfectly ordinary thing to do this time last year, that not too long from now it’ll be normal again. I hope. In the meantime, we’ll ride a few arms’ lengths apart and bring masks so one of us can get beer at the brewery afterwards.

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Categories: Citizens

Saturday Activities

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sat, 09/05/2020 - 4:56pm

Today was an ordinary day, but the pandemic shot through aspect of it.

In the morning, I went driving with Julia so she could practice on the freeway; she’s had her permit for 14 months and won’t have her behind-the-wheel exam for another three weeks because the exams are backlogged after having been suspended for months in the spring due to the pandemic.

In the afternoon I went riding with Pete and wound up as usual at Imminent, where they can only allow about half as many customers as usual due to physical distancing, and where everyone has to wear a mask unless they’re seated at their table. Awkward but also so normal.

And all day, I saw homemade Trump signs, emblems of the cult that has only hardened as the pandemic has wound on. Beyond the run-of-the-mill handmade ones and the obnoxious campaign ones with the “Keep America Great” slogan, the capper was a massive two-sided “TRUMP 2020” sign on a flatbed trailer along US 52 – entirely ringed with barbed wire. Never has there been a more apt metaphor for Trump.

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Categories: Citizens
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