Crabby Old Man (12 More Things I Think I Think)

Some of these will be long; some will be short.  Some are serious; some are me spouting off.

12 Things I think that I think – right now, as of August 3, 2021.

1) Our family just got back from one week hiking in Colorado. I’ve never really spent any time in Denver until now. One of my axioms is that I don’t like to insult or put down anyone’s hometown, but with that in mind…

            I can see why someone would want to live in Denver – you are really close to a lot of awesome outdoor places. That speaks for itself.

            I, myself, probably wouldn’t want to live there. I wouldn’t be unhappy there – but there are other places higher on my list. Too much sprawl, too much traffic, too many wild temperature swings leading to migraines, and housing is expensive.

           But I totally get why someone would love it there. It probably didn’t help that our goddamn SUV tried to die in the mountains.

2) Now that we’re home, I don’t want to go hiking in St. Louis. It’s just depressing to go hiking in Colorado and see mountains and waterfalls and moose – and then come home to mosquitoes, humidity, and flat / clay trails. Every time we go west, it takes me about two or three weeks to get over “scenery depression.” I’m sorry, but the Meramec River vs. a pristine, alpine lake? I’m crying just thinking about it. I’ll get over it.

Just a crabby, old man. Nothing more, nothing less.

3) For this school year, I’m excited to see REAL STUDENTS again. I’m going to work on building their stamina back in the first month or so, getting to re-know (is that a term) everyone, and modifying work (again). It will take time for students that were accustomed to learning online to get used to doing things with me again. There will be some ebb-and-flow at first. More importantly, I’m just going to be happy to see them again – even if our jaw bones and mouths are covered. (For those of us that are aging, this isn’t so bad – you don’t get to see all of my wrinkles!)

4) Soccer – part I. US Women. (I have really grown into soccer over the last 5-7 years, both the men’s and women’s game). At the time of writing, they have NOT played their bronze medal game. Pundits smarter than I could see the cracks in 2019, even when they won the 2019 Women’s World Cup. My two cents:

            -They shouldn’t be ashamed at all. This group has achieved A LOT. 2 World Cups anyone? The men are still stuck on… zero.

            -The talent pool worldwide is increasing; it will be harder and harder to win major tournaments.

            -The younger national teams (U17 and U19) have not been advancing past the group stage at their respective World Cups prior to the pandemic (remember, the US Men U23 have not made 3 Olympics in a row…) So, the talent pool isn’t dominating like they once were.

            -This team is OLD (it’s hard to break up the band). But it’s time to do so – or at least inject the band with a big gulp from the Fountain of Youth.

            I’m not being alarmist, but it might be a bigger sign for systemic change than the US Men laying a wet fart in T&T four years ago. Get rid of pay to play. Play the young kids. And keep developing talent. Or you will get passed up. The US Women are still one of the 3 or 4 best squads in the world, but watch out. #freeroselavelle (She’s a baller…)

5) Soccer – part II. US Men. I *might* owe Greg Berhalter an apology. The systemic issues listed on #4 still apply. The US – on the men’s and women’s side – still needs to learn to cultivate talent at younger levels. However, given where things were in late 2017 until now, this is an improvement. Mexico is still the best squad in CONCACAF (yes, even though they have lost twice in two months to the U.S.), but the gap has closed significantly. The talent pool has improved, and Berhalter has shown a willingness to play the best talent (the European club based players) and develop the young players. And they are playing tough. I won’t feel completely better until they qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but give credit where credit is due. Qualifying in CONCACAF is never straightforward – so we’ll learn more starting in September.

USA – Canada in KC. Fastest goal in USMNT history. I’m impressed by Busio…

            Current needs:

            -A real #9 – there hasn’t been a real one since Clint Dempsey retired from the national team (and don’t tell me “Jozy Altidore.” He was good when he wasn’t hurt. But when was he ever really healthy?)

            -A center back alongside John Brooks (please?) – preferably two in case Big John Brooks gets hurt – and given his history, bank on a knock.

            -Some toughness and ball control to go alongside Weston McKinnie in midfield (the U.S. got overrun in midfield vs. Mexico). Unpopular opinion – Pulisic is the most talented player on the men’s squad, but McKinnie is the most important player on the squad.

            No matter how well this team does in qualifying and in the 2022 World Cup, you can’t bring Berhalter back for another 4 years. It just doesn’t work. US Soccer has made that mistake too many times (see Arena, Bradley, and Klinsmann for proof).

6) Our daughter, Allison, has started taking music lessons. Neither my wife nor I have any musical ability or inclination. We are devoid of talent or an ability to speak the lingo. So, we have been leaning on friends to help Allison with her interest as far as what to do and when to do it. When Allison says “enough”, I guess it will have to be “enough”. Because we lack any reference point to guide her otherwise. I think this is a good thing? This won’t be like “Dance Moms” because we can’t argue with an instructor. We literally know jack squat. So as long as Allison is happy, thumbs up, right?

7) Someday, I want to be able to start a science based YouTube channel or podcast for high school students and early college students. I’d like it to show them all the cool, applicable things you can do with the things you learn (and to give me a creative outlet during the summer). I wanted to start this summer, but I was tapped out when the school year ended. And I had enough work to tweak for the new year that I started planning (not as crazy as last summer) in late June. But it is a goal – given my background (and more importantly, better connections) – I think I could do something worthwhile and entertaining. Self, remember this.

8) I also would like to start tutoring. Someday. I keep hearing Butters’ voice from South Park… “Wouldn’t you like to make some real f*****’ money?” The times I’ve tutored after school for funsies, I like the small group work. It reminds me of when I would do resuscitation work with the nurses I used to work with. Someday…. Self, remember this one, too.

9) For the record, I like teaching my current 3 classes (AP Chem, Anatomy and Physiology, and AP Bio) – not because two of the three are AP classes. I like working with the students when they are able to understand that it’s worth putting in the effort. Period. There’s less persuasion going on to try more often than not. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still persuasion. But for many students, that switch doesn’t flip until midway through 10th grade (or later). It’s just too abstract of a concept to TRY. I like 9th graders, but I need that maturity to kick in. (As a pediatrician, my favorite ages were: birth to 6 months; 15-24 months, 3 years to 5 years, 9 years to 11 years, and then 16 years to 18 years). Let’s just work – and the fun / enjoyment will follow.

10) I still think that the College Board needs a lesson in manners. I present the last two school years as proof.

11) The same goes for colleges accepting AP credit. Many don’t accept the credit – or don’t accept dual enrollment credit. Which begs the question for students and families, “what’s the payoff for working my tail off in high school?” Education is so damn expensive, institutions of higher learning are, in essence, punishing kids TWICE. Once for making credit really hard to transfer and on the back end with the price tag. Honestly, many high school teachers with master’s degrees (or higher) teach better than a professor (that is research based) or a grad student (and know their students better and content just as well). I’d really like some administrator at a “prestigious university” to explain this one to me. (Thankfully, some universities are starting to acknowledge this by putting an emphasis on teaching faculty, and small colleges have done this for a long time. But the point still stands. I can’t teach Biochem 301. That’s FAIR!)

12) Many people know that my mom has lupus. If you don’t know, lupus is an autoimmune condition that attacks your own body. My mom has a weakened immune system. To boot, she takes immune suppressing medications to stop her body from attacking itself, so even on a good day, her immune system is pretty poopy.

My mom – at the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.

            Her specialist told her to get a covid vaccine. There would be little way to predict how much protection she would get from a vaccine. She’d probably get some. Less than 100% for sure, but it would be the best thing she could do. After all, given her condition, she was at really high risk for a) getting covid b) winding up in the hospital if she did get it and c) dying if she wound up in the hospital. Considering she has nearly kicked the bucket twice since 2017, my mom didn’t take much convincing at all (to be upfront, she would have gotten her covid shot anyway). So, both my mom and dad got their vaccines and completed their series by early March 2021. For the record, my dad is pretty healthy.

            My mom got covid in June, just after their 50th wedding anniversary. It took her one month to shake it. She had to stop her immunosuppression to do it. But she stayed out of the hospital – which in and of itself was a minor miracle. She ran fevers off and on; she coughed her little head off. She felt like trash. But she avoided major complications and got to stay at home. She is better now. I’m certain she would have been much sicker without the vaccine, but if you want to say, “Jason, you don’t know that for sure” maybe I have to concede the point. Doubtful, but maybe.

            Here’s the kicker. My dad (obviously) lives in the same house as her. Sleeps in the same bed. Eats at the same table. He’s 74; she’s 72. He was literally in her face for the entirety of the time my mom was sick. He got his vaccine – and he never got a sniffle.

            This is just anecdotal evidence. I don’t have antibody titers. I don’t have CDC money. I don’t have a double-blinded clinical trial. I have zero interest in talking politics. I certainly don’t want to shame anyone. It’s just my immunosuppressed mom and my dad taking care of her for one month and what did (or in this case, what DID NOT happen). If you haven’t yet, please strongly consider getting your vaccine. Please. Thank you.

Author: Jason Kesselring

I am a 44 year old high school chemistry teacher (and former pediatrician), happily married, and a father of two wonderful children. I blog sporadically, and if there's a theme in here, please tell me what it is!

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