Build It. But Will They Come?

Our school district has been hinting around for a new high school for quite some time. I get it. The school is 56 years old, supposedly has a leaky roof, leaky ceilings, a poor heating system, asbestos (why you would let anyone in a building with asbestos is beyond me)., etc.

The entire cost for their project, as of right now anyway, is over 111.5 million dollars. Apparently they don’t remember the Big Dig. Now from what I understand in 2017 the school district had a chance to fix their accreditation probation by using the Massachusetts School Building Authority accelerated repair program for roofs, windows, doors, etc. You know, standard renovations. But they didn’t. They held off in the hopes of getting an entirely new school. Now they’re talking about this “grant” they’d be getting from MSBA in the amount of $46,820,302, leaving the two towns that the school serves to foot the rest of the bill. And the amounts the towns would foot are lopsided. The smaller of the towns would foot 17.75% or $664,121 and the other town would foot 82.25% or $3,077,404.

These figures would affect all taxpayers in both towns, whether you have a student in the district or not. The district’s communication about this project has been poor, starting with a “survey” sent to student’s families via Gmail after the 2020-2021 school year. I still wonder how many people completed that survey. The only mailed communication we have received was a postcard reminding us of the special meetings on September 13 and 14 and then the vote on October 4. Of course they never took into consideration the case of someone not being able to attend the meeting in person due to getting Covid or another factor. In fact, as far as I know no virtual option was offered.

I know there are older people in both towns who have no knowledge of this project. As was discovered when discussing it recently with an elderly acquaintance who lives on my street. She’s owned her home longer than the school has been around and doesn’t feel like having her taxes increased over $600.00 a year.

Of course the figures that were thrown at us on their website are figures drawn up pre-inflation. I don’t think they are taking into consideration the rising cost of supplies, the ability to get the supplies, labor costs, unforeseen problems, etc. They determine this project will be done by 2026. Again, they should remember the Big Dig.

The pro-school people have thrown everything at the wall to make it stick. Well, just about everything. Mainly using a new school as a bait to attract home buyers to the area and a new school to attract potential students. Well, first of all, you need affordable homes to buy in order to attract home buyers. And although your video shows all kinds of cool stuff students may enjoy, interestingly enough it doesn’t mention any improvements to the curriculum or teachers. You can have a big fancy new school. But without a better curriculum and knowledgeable, dependable teachers to teach it, what’s the point? One of their main concerns is making sure there is a space for the preschoolers. Yes, they intend to have preschoolers at the high school. Because of the “vocational” Early Education program they have. Which is a joke. And which, I understand, many parents of children who are or will be of preschool age, do not want.

To use an analogy: if you are a homeowner and want to improve your home, you do renovations, you don’t tear down your house. In reviewing the district’s website about this project, their “renovation/add-on” plan really doesn’t explain much. It doesn’t exactly clarify what is going to be torn down, what is going to be added on, etc. And I can only imagine the disruptions to students attending the school during that time.

At the special town meetings this past week, the votes passed to send the voting to an election vote on October 4. But not everyone’s vote was cast because as I said, they made no efforts or put any thoughts into considering people who may not be able to be physically present. And if you can’t be physically present on October 4 your vote won’t be cast either.

How is it fair that as a taxpayer, if I don’t have a chance to vote for something, I should have to pay for it? I shouldn’t.

And if it gets passed and built, in another 50 years people can start bitching about the age of the school all over again.

The Covid Experience

Two-and-a-half years into the Covid pandemic and not a hint of a cold from anyone in my family and BOOM! One little birthday party with three extended family members and the ENTIRE clan now has Covid.

Monday night my daughter was complaining of a sore throat. She thought it was from shaved ice that she had. Didn’t think much about it. Tuesday morning I wake up with a sore throat and so does my husband. We pull out the at-home Covid tests that have been sitting in our linen closet since who-knows-when. Found two that were not expired. My husband tested positive instantly. His lines were so pink, if it were a pregnancy test, he’d be pregnant. Mine was negative. So was my daughter’s.

At this point in the story it’s important to know that my husband has Multiple Sclerosis. He’s had it for over 30 years. So I told him he should get re-tested at CVS, as I know the at-home tests are about as reliable as a piece of shit (and I’ve never known a piece of shit to be reliable) plus I’m negative and so is our daughter. So he goes to CVS Tuesday afternoon. Negative. Interesting. So who do you believe? At home not reliable or CVS not reliable?

Fast forward to three hours later. My husband is flat on his ass with flu-like symptoms. I’ve seen this before when he has had the flu, except not this bad. Chills. Body aches. Sore throat. No cough. Fever. No runny nose. Hurts to move. Can’t lift his head. Feels best to just lie still. That’s different from when he had the flu. So maybe at-home test was right and that leaves me doubting CVS forever.

Wednesday we all went to ReadyMed to get tested. Or I should say I took my husband and daughter to ReadyMed to get tested. And sure enough, they both have Covid. I can only assume I have Covid as my throat feels like sandpaper and I’m developing a cough. They have no qualms about giving my daughter Paxlovid. My husband initially refuses it, as he’s heard about the re-bound it can cause (although the med provider at the facility said that only happens to people over 65. Right). Anyway, he changes his mind and they tell him he needs to be tested for kidney function. I’m baffled by this, as they readily just gave it to a 17-year-old. What about her kidney function? From what I can gather in Google searches (and there isn’t much), I guess it has something to do with age. So by now it’s too late to go back to ReadyMed to get tested for kidney function so I have to take my husband there on Thursday. Keep in mind, with us having Covid (and I’m assuming I have it at this point as well), we really should not be leaving the house and my husband can barely walk without help. So I drag him back to ReadyMed, takes the blood test, don’t hear anything until Friday morning. Oh, we have to check and see if it interacts with your Tegretol. Fine. It does not but it is suggested he take Lagevrio instead. So he has started on that.

Fast forward to today, Sunday. My husband is finally starting to get up and about, even watching TV while sitting up. My daughter is still coughing a lot and is taking a prescribed medication for that. Only two more days of the Paxlovid for her. We’re going to try an inhaler, as she says her chest hurts and I’m probably going to call the pediatrician tomorrow. As for me, my voice now sounds like a cross between Kathleen Turner and Brenda Vaccaro, maybe even a touch of Adele. And I’ve never smoked in my life. And the sneezes I’m experiencing have literally knocked my socks off.

Over the past week we’ve pondered where we could have gotten Covid from. The three of us hardly go anywhere. We work from home. My daughter studies from home. Except for a weekly trip to the store and maybe an appointment here and there (the week following Labor Day had none so we didn’t go anywhere), we are homebodies. And when we do go out we all wear masks. However, the one place we don’t wear masks is in our own home. Even with people from the outside coming in. Which is what happened last Sunday. Three people from the outside came in. And I’m not pointing fingers but one of them works in a grocery store and the other one has a child who just went back to elementary school just before Labor Day. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. At. The. Party. Got. Covid. We had the party on Sunday and by Tuesday we were all testing positive. So my theory? The one place we were not wearing masks (home) is where we got it from because someone from the outside (one of three or maybe all three–who knows) brought it to the party. And they probably didn’t even know they had it. But I guess it doesn’t matter where we got it from. The point is, we got it. And if I have to go back to the way it was in 2020 when people came to my house (we would wear masks), then so be it. Because I don’t plan on going through this again. Especially with my husband.

We’re on the mend from Covid. Wherever that may lead us.

That’s Great…For Now

Yesterday President Biden decided to knock $10,000 off student loans and $20,000 off Pell grants. As long as you’re not making more than $125,000 a year. Which, apparently for most of the people this affects, from what I’m hearing, is the case. Considering a large percentage of college attendees drop out before obtaining an actual degree and still have to repay their loans, I can see how this could be helpful.

I know some people were ecstatic over the news. Others, such as a colleague of mine, indifferent. As they said, “Whoopie. I owe $70,000 so now I’ll only owe $60,000”. Well, beggars can’t be choosers.

But in all the hoopla over this decision, there is one demographic that everyone is forgetting: the ones who are yet to go to college. What happens to the student loans of Poor Joe who is setting off to University XYZ this fall? Or to Suzy Q who is planning to attend Community College Variable after she graduates in 2024? The students of 2025, 2026, 2027, etc. What happens to their student loans?

See, the student loan “forgiveness” is only great for the ones who have a student loan now. It doesn’t help the payors of future college students who may need that “forgiveness” as well. Biden has missed the big picture completely. Doing this as a “one time thing” for some is not going to fix the actual problem: making secondary education affordable for everyone.

And to all the borrowers who have been able to defer their payments through the pandemic, be prepared. Because they kick back in at the end of the year. Maybe if you’re lucky it will be $10,000 or $20,000 less.

Bamboozled By the Boss

A few weeks ago Bruce Springsteen announced the U.S. dates for his 2023 tour. I found it kind of strange that these dates, which happen first, were announced after the European dates. But I’m not a tour manager and I’m sure there was a logical reason for the European dates, happening after the U.S., dates, to go on sale first. It only makes sense that the dates happening first (the U.S. dates) would go on sale first. But again, I’m not a tour manager, so what do I know? I digress…

So the U.S. dates are announced and everyone gets all excited. After all, it’s been nearly seven years since Springsteen has actually toured. The only action we’ve seen from him, even during the pandemic, was on Broadway. A single show in a single theater.

Then the tickets start going on sale. And Springsteen fans are puzzled, baffled, taken aback, shocked, put into hock, selling their firstborns and anything they can get their hands on to afford tickets. Because, after all, this is The Boss and he hasn’t been on tour in seven years. And we didn’t get to see him on Broadway where, although tickets were expensive, they weren’t nearly as expensive as the nosebleeds on this upcoming 2023 tour.

They told fans to register with Ticketmaster to get “verified”. I’ve been this route before. Once with Harry Styles and once with Olivia Rodrigo. Both shows I attempted to get “verified” to get tickets for my daughter. I never achieved verification for them so you can imagine my shock when I got verified for Springsteen. In fact, I was in disbelief. So I figured it was “meant to be” and I’d give it a shot and see what I could get for tickets for the Mohegan Sun show.

I should mention that a year ago I obtained tickets for Justin Bieber at Mohegan Sun, in the very same arena, in the nosebleed area, for $150.00 a ticket. An entire year before he was scheduled to perform there in June 2022, about two weeks before he announced his illness and a day before I sold the tickets at face value because my daughter could no longer attend. In checking Ticketmaster tonight for that same section, Springsteen tickets are going for $676.00. Now I know Springsteen is not Bieber and Bieber is not Springsteen, but how does this figure? In fact tonight as of this writing at Mohegan Sun the cheapest Springsteen ticket you’re going to find is for $525.00 and the most expensive is for $2,193. In hovering around on the seat map I found the $525 seats to be behind the stage. I’m not even seeing tickets for $2,193. General admission right near the stage are going for $1500. A real bargain if you care to stand for four hours. Shit, at these prices, Springsteen better tack on another hour, just to give the fans more for their money. At 73, does he still have the stamina?

Leading up to Friday’s ticket sales, I had heard plenty from others who had gone into sticker shock during Tuesday’s ticket sales. So I wasn’t expecting much but was hoping for the best. I got in to Ticketmaster with no issues and had a $500.00 budget, before fees and all the other crap. I wasn’t even in there for two minutes, didn’t see anything in my budget range, said “fuck this shit” and left with no regrets.

As a fellow fan and someone who hasn’t seen Springsteen perform live in 35 years, when I paid $20.00 for a seat eight rows from the stage, I can understand everyone’s frustration and let down. It’s hard to swallow when you feel you’ve been bamboozled by someone you felt understood the common person and where they’re coming from, how a lot of them live hand to mouth, how many of them cannot afford tickets, but would still do whatever they could to get the tickets. With the economy the way it is today, it’s amazing that anyone, other than extremely wealthy people, could afford tickets. And if you bought tickets, hopefully nothing occurs in your life between now and then where you are left wondering if you made the right decision because you could have used the money you paid for Springsteen tickets for something more important. We all make choices.

There is one large factor about the Springsteen tour that nobody has seemed to have mentioned. Remember he has not been on tour for seven years. He didn’t even tour during the start of the pandemic. He was holed up in a Broadway theater, which shut down for a period of time during the start of the pandemic. He hasn’t experienced being on the road with his band, hours away from doing a show and having the drummer test positive, having to postpone or cancel a show. He hasn’t started out on a tour in early 2020 only to be shut down for a year because of the pandemic and having to have his shows rescheduled until 2021. Springsteen hasn’t experienced any of that, unless he had to cancel a Broadway show here and there. I don’t know. So there are a lot of unknowns to keep in mind. And I won’t even start with the age factor. But it’s no wonder why he was jumping on stage to perform with McCartney recently.

Dealing With Disappointment

By now the world has seen the infamous Sesame Place video of Rosita ignoring two little black girls who were trying to get the character’s attention and obtain a high-five, like the many people before them were able to get. I feel for the kids. I know what it’s like to see your child ignored by a person dressed up in a costume that they so wanted to interact with. And that’s my point.

It’s unfortunate, for whatever reason, that any child, no matter what color their skin is, should be deprived of that moment they’ve been waiting for. The Sesame Place security cameras should be scanned to see how many children on a daily basis are dissed by Elmo and others. I’m sure we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more youngsters are passed by than are high-fived. Children of all races and abilities.

And race may have been the reason Rosita dissed the little girls. But aside from their race, they are children first. No matter what color. And for any child longing to meet their heroes and not being able to, it can be painful. For them and their parents.

As sad as the Sesame Place incident may have been for those little girls, and any other child this has happened to, which I’m sure there are many, (I can vouch), the moral of the story is: life is full of disappointments. Being dissed by Rosita is peanuts compared to what’s in store for you later in life. Wait until you don’t get into the college of your choice. Wait until you don’t get the job you want. Or the car you want. The house you want. Or the love you want. Again, I can vouch. And I’m sure race, sex and entitlement will be tossed into the picture as well, because they always are. But disappointment happens to everyone. It’s a fact of life.