Just saw my first news report since the start of the pandemic and introduction of vaccines where a reporter specified in voice over of video of people sitting within a foot or two of each other that everyone was fully vaccinated.

Helps make it feel like we’ve turned some sort of corner.

Of course the segment was about the coming plague of locusts…

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Glenadale Unified allowing students back on campus in a limited schedule

About a year ago Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) returned from a long two week Spring break. The second, unplanned week of vacation was extra preparation time for teachers to get ready to do remote learning in response to the pandemic.

Today, nearly a year later to the day, GUSD is starting to welcome students back to campus. They’ve given the parents the choice to send their children back to campus through the end of the year, presuming there are no flare ups of the coronavirus.

Today they’re dramatically changing their schedule and welcoming back portions of kindergarten through third grade students. Fourth through sixth grades will be invited back in a few weeks. 

Students returning to campus are broken up into two groups. One will be on campus on Monday/Tuesday and the other on Thursday/Friday. Everyone will be remote on Wednesdays (presumably with room cleanings between the groups). Synchronous instruction will be from 8:20 AM to about noon and remote, asynchronous instruction will go until about 2:30 PM. About 55-60% of students have apparently opted to be back on campus and that number broken in half will leave about 30% of a grade class in physical attendance for their two days a week.

If I recall correctly, about two weeks ago the CDC changed their guidance for children and decreased the social distance recommendation from 6 feet to 3 feet. I’m not sure if GUSD is following this new recommendation.

Evie’s fourth grade Japanese dual immersion class was broken up between her tortoise (カメ ) group and the cranes (鶴(つる)). They’ve now been reshuffled and renamed the “roomies” and the “zoomies” depending on whether their groups will be attending in person or remotely, respectively. Evie will be a zoomie for the remainder of the school year.

While it might be nice for more socialization and a change in routine, it seems far easier and less stress with our routine to simply stay remote for the balance of the school year. There were likely to be only 15 or so days that she would attend in person given their structure and schedule. Erring on the side of caution, and a bit on convenience, remote seems a better option until the fall when a higher proportion of people are vaccinated.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

It’s been a long time since I’ve made any listen posts. In part, the biggest blocker has been finding time without a commute during the pandemic to listen to much. Another has been the depressing nature of the news. But I find that I miss a lot of the podcasts and shows I used to listen to. They help to make them happy, so I’m going to try to spend more time to get back to them. I particularly miss On the Media and Eat This Podcast. The nice part is that there’s lots of good stuff to catch up on.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Winter Counts and related holiday traditions

Some indigenous American tribes kept annual winter counts which served as both a physical historical account of their year, but served as visual mnemonic devices leveraging a bit of the idea of a drawn memory palace along with spaced repetition by adding a new image to their “journey” each year.

I was reminded about the idea over the weekend by a dreadful, cheeseball Hallmark Holiday movie A Royal Christmas Ball (2017) (please don’t torture yourself by watching it). The two main characters had a Christmas ritual of creating a holiday ornament every year for their Christmas tree with a design that represented something significant in their lives that year. Because most families generally use and reuse the same ornaments every year, the practice becomes a repeated ritual which allows them to reminisce over each ornament every year to remember past years. It’s a common occurrence (at least in Western society) for people to purchase souvenir ornaments when they travel, and these serve the same effect of remembering their past travels.

If others haven’t come across this idea as a fun mnemonic device for the whole family with built in spaced repetition, I recommend you give it a try. Just don’t everyone necessarily make coronavirus ornaments for this year.

Non-Christians could leverage a similar idea for their annual holidays, feasts, or events if they like. Of course, you could follow the Lakota tribe and make a more traditional winter count.

For those interested in some of the further history and description of the idea of an annual count in the framing of mnemotechny, I would recommend LynneKelly’s book Memory Craft or some of her more academic works.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich