“Free” Public School

You know what it costs to send your child to “free” public preschool? $12000 per year. That’s how much.

How is that possible, you ask? I certainly asked that too! Let me break it down for you:

  • You pay more than $1800 per year to the federal government for education funding (approximately 3% of federal budget).
  • You pay $4000 per year to the city for school taxes
  • You enroll your 4-year-old in his $5800+ “free” preschool, and are told “Oh, but school ends at 1 pm, so if you work at a job, you’ll have to enroll him in ‘wrap-around care’. That will be $6000 dollars per year, please”.

    Note that if we enroll our child in private preschool, the most expensive program around costs just over $10,000 per year (‘wrap-around care’ included), just over $1800 per year less than “free” public school. But of course, then we’d still have to pay the $5800 for the “free” public school we weren’t using.

    “Livid” is not the right word for how I feel about “free” public school. It’s much too tame. Maybe “Murderously enraged”? “Teeth-gnashingly furious”?

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal | 1 Response

Product Review: Nokia Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch

I’m addicted to my smartwatch. It wakes me on time in the morning, it keeps me on schedule, it tells me when someone wants to contact me, and it’s a tiny, informational multi-tool. Unfortunately, it’s also a five year old Pebble, the company that made it is defunct, and it’s starting to break down, so for some time I’ve been looking for a newer solution.

The one thing I’ve never been pleased with about my current smartwatch is that in the attempt to be a multi-tool, it is less than ideal as a watch! It’s big and blocky, lacks physical hands that can be seen in low light without backlighting, and it stops being a watch when the smartwatch functions have exhausted the battery.

To make a better choice this time, I decided to go with a hybrid smartwatch. I settled on the Nokia Steel HR. It’s a sleek, beautiful watch with physical analog hands and an uncomplicated face, but still provides notifications, a fitness tracker, and alarms. It even has a fancy feature called ‘smart wakeup’ that lets you pick a wakeup window, rather than time, and wakes you at your lightest sleep cycle during that window.

Having used the watch for a week, I was devastated to be forced to send it back for a refund. It is surely a beautiful watch, but fails in virtually every other way. Other than the appearance, I was looking for three features:

  • An analog watch that worked well and looked and felt like a real watch on my wrist
  • Notifications from my phone, so I would be made aware when messages or appointments came up
  • That super-cool smart wakeup feature

What I found:

  • The watchface, while delicate and beautiful in good lighting, has vanishingly thin hands that are utterly unreadable in anything less. Not only that, it has no backlight you can activate, so it’s effectively unreadable a lot of the time. Now, you might think, as I initially did, that since it has a screen that can show the time, I could use a gesture control to turn the screen on as needed, but you (and I) would be wrong. The screen can only be activated by pushing the stem/button. This means that unless you are outside in daylight or in a well lit room, if you want to know what time it is, you need two hands!
  • The notifications on the watch suffer from several defects. First of all, the power of the notification vibration is so low, you basically never feel it unless you happen to be very still in a very quiet room. Second, while the notifications *do* inform you of calls, calendar events, and messages, the only calendar it will use is the stock google calendar, ignoring all others. Third, literally the ONLY messages you get notifications for are SMS messages, and even then, only if you are using the stock text-messaging app. No WhatsApp, no Signal, no Facebook Messenger, no Google Hangouts, nothing. Effectively, this watch is utterly useless at the single most important function a smartwatch can provide!
  • The smart wakeup feature depends upon the watch’s alarm. They aren’t joking about the “Alarm” part, either. There is literally only one alarm on the watch. You can’t even set different wakeup times for weekends! Over and above this, during the course of a week, the “smart” wakeup woke me every single day at the earliest possible point in my wakeup window. Yet again, useless in every possible way…

I wanted to love the Steel. I *still* want to love it. It’s beautiful and elegant, and is billed with great features. It just doesn’t HAVE those features yet…

Posted in For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Uncategorized | 1 Response

Wise Old Sayings: A Facelift

As a business owner, home owner, dog owner, and now children owner, I have come to understand a great many things about life in the modern world. Based upon this vast experience, I have decided to update a few of the traditional aphorisms whose usefulness has begun to age out:

  • “Necessity is a mother.”
  • “To err is expensive, to forgive… also expensive.”
  • “When one door closes, somebody is going to come along leave it open again, so we’re heating the whole damned neighborhood!”
  • “If you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing. If you never have anything good to say, you’re probably a three-year-old.”
  • “If anything can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment. In the event that something goes right, it will do so in a way that exerts the largest possible negative effect.”
  • “A bird in the hand is really pissed that you pulled him out of your bathroom vent.”
  • “A father and his money are soon parted.”
  • “A coward may die a thousand deaths, but a brave man is generally taking the easy way out.”
  • “A job worth doing is going on the pile until I have the cash to hire someone.”
  • ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with somebody pissing their pants in the back seat because nobody listens to Daddy!”
  • “A lie, told often enough, is sometimes the only thing that’s going to get that kid to sleep.” (Better to call it “pretending”)
  • “A rolling stone is clearly a better toy that the one Mamma spent $80 on.”
  • “All work and no play is why they invented babysitters.”
  • “An ounce of prevention is just impossible to get anyone to try.”
  • “Don’t cry over spilt milk, cry over how much trouble you’re in because I just told you not to touch that!”
  • “Don’t put all your eggs in the dishwasher again!”
  • “Don’t toot your own horn. Or any other horn. It’s very early, and Daddy has a splitting headache.”
  • “Expect the unexpected, and the bill.”
  • “Give ’em an inch, and they’ll find a way to get it stuck in the car door.”
  • “He who hesitates probably forgot.”
  • “Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s had her makeup dumped out and ground into the carpet.”
  • “If the shoe fits, wait three weeks.”
  • “I’m rubber, you’re glue. One of us comes out of fur.”
  • “Misery loves to consume resources.”
  • “The apple never falls far from where it would still be if you’d left it alone like I told you! (No, we don’t have any more apples.)”
  • “All’s fair in love and getting a baby to sleep.”
  • “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but both pale in comparison to five-day-old formula under your truck-seat.”
Posted in Family, For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Whimsical | 1 Response

The Scion, The Sitch, And The Microbe(s): A Final (We Hope!) Update

Our boy Dashiell is home safe from the hospital! It was a long road, including six days and nights in the ICU and another three days in the regular hospital, three separate medical procedures, and an unbearable amount of suffering, but the worst is over, and he’s on the mend…

There’s still more medical work in play. He came home with a PICC installed in his arm, which is sort of a mechanical shortcut between his arm and his Vena Cavae, through which his mother must pump him full of a number of drugs on a daily basis. He also still needs more blood tests, and may need to be treated for ongoing fevers for up to two months.

That said, let me tell you about my little boy. At the ripe old age of three, he nearly died of pneumonia. Attacked by four separate virulent microbes at the same time, his lung collapsed, and his chest filled with fluid. While this was going on, and adults scurried around him, he fought harder than I have ever seen anyone fight.

When things were at their worst, he was able to spend hours learning and using meditative breathing exercises to get extra air and deal with the excruciating pain he was in. While he was drugged and barely conscious, his little heart running at nearly 200 beats per minute for thirty hours, cycling every drop of blood in his body in around 90 seconds to scavenge every last bit of available oxygen, he regularly woke to tell his desperate father that he “felt a little bit better” and could he “please have some chocolate milk”.

His parents have never been so terrified, nor so proud, in their entire lives.

Dash is recovering well, but his body is still beaten and bruised, and it will be a few weeks before he has his usual energy back. He is still in pain, but regularly smiles and laughs, which we haven’t seen in weeks. His parents are also recovering well!

We cannot say enough in praise of the doctors and nurses in Albany Medical Center’s emergency room, pediatric intensive care unit, and infectious disease unit. They literally saved our son’s life, and were, to a man, caring, understanding, and professional throughout. We also want to thank the Ronald McDonald House organization and volunteers for providing a homey, comfortable space just feet away from our son’s room where terrified parents could find a few moments of normalcy and respite from the relentless torrent of stress and fear.

We were also truly moved by the massive support we received from family, friends and neighbors during this trial. There were moments when that support was the only thing that kept us all going and sane (and fed!).

The End (we hope…)

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal | 1 Response

Fourth Day in the Hospital: A sad little boy in review

This is the continuing update on our son Dashiell’s condition, for distribution to all!

Short Story:

The last three days have been a rollercoaster, but the overall movement has been positive.

Long Story:

What we have discovered so far is that there are a trio of unusually debilitating non-flu respiratory viruses running through Upstate NY children this year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of child pneumonia cases. Our overachieving tyke has managed to contract all three simultaneously! In addition, he also managed to become infected with group A streptococcus (group A being the one that gives you strep throat, but not for our little boy…).

The working theory is that he contracted one of the viruses, and had a strong enough immune system to suppress all symptoms, but not to beat it entirely in the short term. This weakened him enough to allow the other two to gain a foothold. The three together were only able to give him a runny nose and slight cough, but served to depress his immune system to the point that the Streptococcus was able to invade both his lungs and chest cavity.

The result of all this was that his lungs were weakened at the same time that his chest cavity began to fill with fluid. This caused his left lung to almost collapse. Simultaneously, he presented “scarlet fever”, meaning he experienced spikes of extreme high-fever (up to 105, that we caught), and the toxins produced by the strep bacteria produced a hideous, body-wide rash that weirdly moved slowly around on his body, sometimes engulfing his face, his torso, his arms and legs, etc. (By the way, no medical professional here has ever even heard of a moving rash associated with any known disease before, which gave us serious cause for concern early on!).

Fortunately, we were already at the hospital before the worst of the lung collapse and scarlet fever hit, so he was kept from complete respiratory failure, and the scarlet fever only had a few hours to work before it was knocked out by the antibiotics, which meant that he was never as close to death as he might have been, despite how terribly ill he was.

In the last three days, he has had a chest tube installed to drain the fluid, and been treated with multiple antibiotics to combat the strep. There is nothing the doctors can do to cure the viral infections as they are no susceptible to any known antivirals, but his fever is well controlled, the strep is losing the fight, and his lung function is back up to about 90%.

We are not out of the woods, and best case will be staying in the hospital for another week, but we have moved from condition “Terrified he’s gonna die” through condition “Concerned he might die or have serious future medical problems” and on into condition “Still worried there might be an unexpected downturn, but expecting a full recovery”

For his part, Dashiell is annoyed he can’t get out of bed and go to the potty on his own, and confused why people keep sending him toys and balloons when he “already has enough”.

Mommy and Daddy are stressed and emotionally exhausted but grateful for wonderful family, friends, and neighbors who have helped and supported us in our time of need. We love you all!

Posted in Ballroom, Family, For Facebook, General, Personal, Uncategorized | 5 Responses
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