Silent Response to virtual schooling with remote-less honeybee

Although we’re still stuck in the quagmire of March, I’ve been told that the school year is about to resume. Here in Santa Barbara, since the covid infection rate hasn’t dropped below the benchmark, schools will begin with remote, virtual lessons.

“But, Dan,” a
president interrupts, “children are immune.”

“Even if that were true — and it’s not..”

“How do you know it’s not true?”
the orange one queried.

you said it. Regardless, school children are excellent disease transmission vectors.”

he replied, with typical vocabulary-limited and diminished clarity.

“School children are germ factories and they make their families sick.” I concluded. “
Just like you make me sick,” I thought.

Since it is not safe for Tiger (first grade) or Arrow (pre-school) to return in person, Melika and Tom have found an experienced and talented in-home tutor named Paula. The children and Paula are currently in ‘get acquainted’ mode. It hasn’t been clear that Tiger is convinced that Paula is a teacher (good) or a babysitter (bad). I asked both him and Arrow about the situation.

“What did you do with Paula?”

The response? Silence.

“Did you have a good time?”


“Tiger! Arrow!
What did you do with Paula?”

“Dan!” Tiger finally replied. “When kids don’t answer a question, it’s because they
don’t want to talk about it.”

Newsflash: A few days later, I saw them playing and learning with Paula. They were looking at an atlas, finding countries that had certain products and materials and then riding their scooters on pretend visits to those countries. When I arrived, the were ‘in’ Ghana.

Supplementing, I’ve been helping Tiger and Arrow master interaction with my MacBook Pro. They will use the computer for their virtual classes

“Are you kidding me, Dan?” Nazy interrupts. “Didn’t you have to get Tiger’s help with the TV remote?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Nazy. He was showing me the remote after I told him that when I was growing up, there was no remote for our TV. He thought I was making that up because..
“You can’t turn a TV on without a remote, Dan.”

“You could get up, walk to the TV and push a button.” I replied, watching the horror of that thought as he internalized the dire ramifications of the deeply deprived and rustic nature of my childhood. Seeing his reaction, I decided that I wouldn’t mention
black and white TV.

In any case, teaching children to work with a computer has is a long-standing tradition. Below you see Tiger, Arrow and Darius. (Darius is working with an Apple II with dual 'floppy' disk drives.)

children on laptop computer for TWL

We are, of course, very lucky that we live so close to Melika, Tom and their family. And, although Darius, Christiane and the girls are in the same time zone…

Fun Fact:
Yakutsk (Russia) and Hobart (Australia) are also in the same time zone even though they are more than 11,000 kilometers (6800 miles) apart.

Leandra learning arabic alpahbet August 2020

… it is, nevertheless farther from Santa Barbara to Bellingham then it is from Berlin to Moscow. We keep in touch using WhatsApp and Zoom. Nazy has been showing Leandra photographs of Darius when he was three years old. (For example, see Darius playing on the Apple II, which featured dual (floppy) disk drives.

In Bellingham, Christiane is teaching Leandra the Arabic alphabet. Leandra, of course, is already speaking French and English. She is a very articulate and talkative little girl. Nazy and I are searching for a safe way to get to Washington State.

For many reasons, including covid and immigration personnel shortages, Darius, Christiane and the little girls did not go to Lebanon this summer. Fortunately, Christiane’s family is safe. But, because Christiane didn’t go, she didn’t collect their usual allotment of Lebanese “za’atar”, a spice blend used in a wide variety of dishes. When they used the last of their stash, despondency settled into the house. But…

“I have a large bag of za’atar in my freezer!” Nazy exclaimed. We immediately sent to Bellingham by express mail where it safely arrived before the Republican voter suppression troops dismantled the post office.
Darius and Honey man

In last week’s letter, I mentioned the honeybee hives that are in place at Melika and Tom’s. While I was thinking about the bees, I recalled a trip to a local bazaar in Tyre, Lebanon several years ago. Darius struck up a conversation with the proprietor of a honey shop in the bazaar. We learned about how honey taste varied depending on where the bees pollinated. We got to taste several different varieties of honey and, when we decided which one to buy, the owner wouldn’t take our money.

In other exciting news, I got a check for $0.61 from State Farm because of something to do with covid. And then there was the bill from the city.

Five cents!” I thought. “They sent me a bill for five cents?”
nazy on Beach Walk August 1 2020

it turns out that I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses when I paid the water bill this month. Thus a wrote a check for $xxx.53 instead of one for $xxx.58 — leaving a (gasp!) five cent shortfall. Making a mental note to add 5cents to next month’s payment, I decided to ignore the invoice. The city responded with a nasty note threatening to cut off my water if I did pay within 72 hours. I called to explain that while I could afford the 5 cents, I didn’t have the 55 cents needed to cover the postage. I even referenced the administration’s scheme to defund the post office.

They decided to accept an electronic payment. And, while we’re speaking of small bills and checks..

“The Compaq Pension plan?” Nazy asked. “How can they owe us money?”

“Nazy! Be reasonable. Do you really think that I was so stupid that I was unaware of money that owed to me by Compaq? Come on!” I replied. “
There was a lot of confusion when HP bought Compaq and we had just moved to Europe,” I thought. “I wonder if…

When I received an email notification of a ‘check in the mail’, it came with the caveat that the check had been sent because the account was below the “minimum balance”. I was not optimistic. However…

“.. this is a six figure check, Nazy!” I exclaimed.

“Wow! Dan that’s..”

“Six figures if you count the two to the right of the decimal point.”

However, the check was well into the four figure arena — six figures if you count the two to the right of the decimal point,

“How could you not know about this, Dan?”

We’re looking forward to the election where, the Democrats will, once again, have to clean up the mess left by the GOP. George W turned a surplus into a deficit, a boom into a bust and somehow let bin Laden get away. Trump has done worse in every area. When you throw in Nixon, the best word to describe the normal situation following a departing GOP President is ‘Shambolic”.

Vote for decency in November. And. if you vote by mail, send it in early and with appropriate postage.

For last week's letter, please click here

Tiger and Arrow walking in the Douglas Preserve

balance on the logs Douglas July 2020

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