Category: Current events and social commentary

How much space do you need?

For those of us who live in small apartments or condos, our homes added to the challenges of the pandemic. We lacked a variety of rooms to offer a change of scene during isolation. Now that I’m going out again, I no longer feel cooped up in my 3½ rooms. But the experience of confinement... Read more »

Ambivalence might be the desired stance

As I was lamenting the departure of the Chicago Tribune columnists who took Tribune owner Alden Global Capital’s buyout offer, my favorite New York Times columnist published his last column. Frank Bruni’s June 20 piece was a gem. Reflecting on 10 years as a columnist, Bruni wondered whether the dogmatism of political commentators had contributed... Read more »

Growing up with ComEd

With the recent announcement that coal-fired power plants in Waukegan and Romeoville would be shut down in 2022, only four Illinois plants that burn coal to generate electricity remain without closing dates. Gov. J. B. Pritzker is bent on phasing out all coal-generated plants by 2035. Good riddance, of course. Coal pollution damages lungs and... Read more »
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Differences about what we’ll do now

My friends and I agreed about those who weren’t treating COVID as a serious health threat. But now that we’re vaccinated, we diverge about reentering seminormal life. The differences have made me feel defensive on occasion.  Did I detect a self-satisfied tone when two vaccinated friends said that they intend to keep their masks on... Read more »

Recalling a disappointing meeting with an icon

If you listen to WBEZ, you know that National Public Radio celebrated its 50th anniversary this month. The names Susan Stamberg and Bob Edwards are familiar to those who go back to the beginning with public radio. They were cohosts of NPR’s flagship daily news show All Things Considered until Edwards moved to its morning... Read more »

Resumed activities fall short: bad luck or a bad omen?

During the pandemic, my friend Sandie and I have played Scrabble online twice a week, double the amount we used to play in person, and my book group has met via Zoom. The activity that I missed is Chicago Greeter, where I’d logged almost 1,000 hours giving tours to out-of-towners. Chicago Greeter resumed operation in... Read more »
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What I’d like to say to someone who refuses a vaccine

Maybe you also know someone who doesn’t want to get a COVID vaccination. There’s a good chance that someone isn’t in the Baby Boomer generation. Eighty-five percent of us are or intend to be vaccinated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One in four adults under 30 are wait-and-see or definitely not. The person I... Read more »

Reentry at different rates

As more of us are vaccinated, we’re noting reports that people are nervous about reentry into something resembling our former lives. Have we forgotten how to socialize? Are we so used to cocooning that we won’t want to go out? Will we back away from people who get close?  Today, my fully vaccinated day one,... Read more »

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 »
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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 »