Category: Current events and social commentary

Genealogy is an elective

In a recent Zoom chat with a group of my former coworkers, a woman of Filipino descent lamented the difficulty of finding records of her ancestors. I thought back to another chat with coworkers, this one in person, when I gushed about having traced a branch back 13 generations to 1629 New England. Later I... Read more »

Surprise: vaccines are on my mind

With “Have you had your first shot?” leading off most conversations these days, thank goodness it’s becoming easier to find an appointment for a COVID vaccination. “I think I’m the only Chicagoan over 65 who hasn’t found an appointment,” a friend grumbled a couple of days before he snared one. He wasn’t really alone; only... Read more »

Thoughts as senior residences let up on lockdowns

Our 93-year-old mother’s virtual imprisonment in an assisted living apartment for almost a year has to rank among my family’s top stresses of the pandemic.   Would Mom have been better off living with one of us? Didn’t she deserve the same care she gave her own mother at home for 17 years? But when... Read more »

I’m glad I still can read the news on paper

Especially since the pandemic began, sitting down to read the daily newspaper in print form has been the highlight of my days. The reliable Chicago Tribune carrier leaves the paper outside the door early every morning. After breakfast, I make a pot of tea and settle into my reading chair for what’s become a long,... Read more »

Are you behaving weirdly during isolation?

We’ve heard of people having weirder, more vivid dreams during the pandemic. Bizarre waking behaviors haven’t been discussed as much, unless you count hoarding toilet paper, which seemed reasonable to do back in the spring.  When I started moving around the living room furniture without having had a notion that I wanted to rearrange the... Read more »

Making a reluctant admission about my fellow Americans

I really have tried to understand Trumpers. I read J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and thought he made good points about the economic and social problems of the white working class — disappearing jobs, drug addiction, hopelessness, and instability. I allowed that first-time Trump voters could have fallen for his con in 2016. But it’s... Read more »

Distractions until we know a winner

I can’t remember such anxiety since the Bulls’ last championship game. Until a few days ago I was in denial about a possible Trump win. Then less optimistic columnists punctured my confidence. It was horrible to wake up on November 9, 2016, and learn that the polls had been wrong, but how much more horrible... Read more »

It’s getting too cold for outdoor get-togethers. Now what?

When a friend ended a get-together in a park with “I don’t know when I’ll see you next,” it took me a few seconds to realize why she said that: It may be too cold to meet outdoors again for many months. She hasn’t seen friends indoors since the pandemic struck. Another friend who has... Read more »

Guidance still lacking on whether and where to get tested

Should I be tested for covid? You’ve probably asked yourself that during the last several months, and maybe thought, why not? But then perhaps you considered that there aren’t enough tests available for everyone, and labs are overburdened with processing tests. I certainly wouldn’t have asked for a test out of curiosity. But I had... Read more »

The continuing relevance of Alex Haley’s Roots

More than four decades after Roots: The Saga of an American Family was published and became a sensation, I finally read the book by Alex Haley. It tells the stories of six generations of Haley’s ancestors, starting in the mid-1700s with Kunta Kinte, a 17-year-old African captured into slavery. Roots spent 46 weeks on the... Read more »