We have mostly settled into a routine here. In the morning the kids have school. The 8th grade has a couple of on-the-screen meetings most days, but the 3rd grade has almost no real-time instruction, just assignments described in video clips by the teachers. That feels right to me; I’ve heard about kids in other cities asked to be in front of the laptop camera for six hours a day as if it made sense to hew to the usual schedule, and that sounds nuts to me. In the afternoon AB has “camp” for two hours where she does art projects with a counselor and a group of kids, mostly from here and there in the US, one from Costa Rica. CJ is still baking a lot — oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday.
It works, basically. I had a lot of ambitions for “things I’ve always wanted to do with the kids but we’re too overscheduled to get to them,” and most of those have been unrealized. I wanted us to play music together and record some tracks. I wanted CJ to do a coding project. I thought, being in the house all day, we could do some reorg and cleaning of the house. Those things didn’t happen (for the good reason that the kids didn’t actually want to do them.) On the other hand, both kids are doing AOPS courses, AB and I have learned to throw a Frisbee forehand, CJ and I watched The Mandalorian (much better overall than any of the last three movies). I always felt I should get into gaming with the kids and AB and I are now working our way through Pikuniku.
Of course, the fact that I can even think about opportunity as well as burden is because I am in the very lucky position of having a job that doesn’t go away during a pandemic, and I don’t have people in the house at high risk of serious illness, so I can safely accept the modest risk of infection that comes with shopping, taking walks, etc.
Nobody I know has died of this yet. Two people I know have lost parents, another an aunt, another a grandparent. I guess it depends what you mean by “know.” John Conway died of COVID last week. Is that somebody I know? He’s somebody I’d chat with when I was around the Princeton math department. His famous theorems are familiar, but in the round of admiration attending his death I learned one I didn’t know; given any six points in R^3, you can partition them into two groups of three in such a way that the resulting two triangles are linked. That’s cool, but the proof is even cooler — it turns out that the sum of the linking numbers over all 10 such partitions is always odd! My favorite kind of existence proof is “there are an odd number of these things so there aren’t zero of them.”
Our neighborhood bakery and our favorite breakfast place got PPP small business loans so they can continue to pay their employees for the next couple of months. That loan program ran out of money in 28 seconds or something but Congress is planning to fill the bucket with money again, they say. Campus is still closed but the undergraduates are rebuilding it in Minecraft. The governor has released a plan to start reopening schools and more businesses, once cases in Wisconsin start showing a consistent decline. That looked like it might happen soon, but now there’s a new outbreak in Green Bay, tied to spread in the meatpacking plants there. (Yes, non-Wisconsinites, that’s why the football team is called that.) The workers who keep the food supply going, just like the doctors and nurses treating patients, are unavoidably going to be exposed to a lot of risk, because, unlike me, they do work that can’t be done on a screen and can’t not be done.