‘Albany’ Category

 

Readin’ and Writin’ and ‘Rithmatic

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know how many students attended public schools in the United States in the 2019-2020 school year? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/, about  50.8 million – 35.5 million in prekindergarten to grade 8, and 15.3 million in grades 9-12.

About 3.7 million students graduated from high school this spring, in the strangest ending to a school year anyone can recall. I’ve heard stories from my parents of “depression years” and school schedules revolving around “cotton-picking time.” My Dad was double-promoted in high school during hard times and wound up graduating at age 16. “Daddy had been a school teacher, and he made sure I got my studies done first. So I’d go to classes in the morning and then put in a crop in the afternoon,” he told. My Mom was dealt a reverse blow – her father held her back for two of her school years; once due to a lengthy illness and once when she simply needed to help support the family. My grandfather was a carpenter, and she dug clay from the riverbank to make bricks. But both parents persevered. They made it, despite the odds.

This year’s high schoolers were hit with an unexpected, unpredictable crisis along about March. In a flurry of fears and fumbles, as the COVID-19 virus began to creep across the country, schools shifted to stay-at-home, online classes. The methods varied from state to state, even within school districts. “Let’s stay home till this passes,” was Plan 1.

It didn’t pass. Virus cases continued to go up and state governors were tasked with issuing mandates to protect their citizens. What a thoroughly depressing “rock and a hard place” to be between. We can’t let 3.5 million kids miss a senior year! But also, we can’t let 50.8 million kids sit side by side in a classroom when the danger of illness, or death, is entirely possible.

So what to do?

You know what happened, it’s past now. My two high-school-senior-grandchildren toughed it out, sitting at home with their laptops; certain hours for online classtime and individual study. Yes, you can STUDY at home (that’s normally called “homework”) but how the heck do you complete a welding class online? They missed the senior prom, the cross-country meets, the camaraderie with school chums. It all went flat.

I applaud the effort their school officials made to create “virtual graduation ceremonies” so they did get to WEAR those caps and gowns; they did get photographed with smiling faces and feted with “immediate-family-at-home parties.” And cake, of course, cake. I’ve heard stories from friends in different parts of the country that told of similar, and some very unusual, solutions for “how to make it SPECIAL for the Class of 2020.”

Life goes on, and the virus isn’t letting up as the fall “school year” fast approaches. The daily news is mostly daily arguments and accusations; we MUST do this; we CANNOT do that. The impact of school closures extends far beyond “educational concerns” or “health concerns.” Financial, emotional, practical, common-sense issues are topsy-turvy; our structured way of life is no longer certain of its footings.

I analyze COVID-19 cases every day on the CDC site; today’s totals are 2,982,900 with 145,663 deaths so far in our 50 states, the District of Columbia, and our US territories.

Top Ten List

Sometimes, I noted, it isn’t good to make the TOP TEN LIST. Today, the ten US states dealing with the highest sheer numbers of COVID-19 cases are:

  1. 399,925: New York. Capital City Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat
  2. 277,724: California. Capital City Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat
  3. 210,594: Florida. Capital City Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican
  4. 210,585: Texas. Capital City Austin, Governor Greg Abbott, Republican
  5. 173,878: New Jersey. Capital City Trenton, Governor Phil Murphy, Democrat
  6. 149,574: Illinois. Capital City Springfield, Governor J B Pritzker, Democrat
  7. 110,338: Massachusetts. Capital City Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, Republican
  8. 105,094: Arizona. Capital City Phoenix, Governor Doug Ducey, Republican
  9. 100,470: Georgia. Capital City Atlanta, Governor Brian Kemp, Republican
  10. 92,148: Pennsylvania. Capital City Harrisburg, Governor Tom Wolf, Democrat

Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Phil Murphy, J B Pritzker, Charlie Baker, Doug Ducey, Brian Kemp, and Tom Wolf, governors of these hardest-hit states, have some tough decisions ahead. So do the governors, and health departments, and school boards, of ALL our states and territories.

There are more than 50 million children out there whose future rocks, and rolls, on the decisions you make.

Tomorrow: Colleges

 

 
 
 

Swimming Upstream

05 Alex Jack sleepingLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – The cats are snoozing but I’m busy. Today I’m wrapping up 80% of the Journey Across America as we end our stay in the 40th capital city. For the last two months, I feel like I’ve been a salmon swimming upstream, going backwards in history. In Saint Paul, I learned about Pigs Eye Parrant and Lucien Galtier, two names that are part of the city’s beginnings. Pigs Eye moved west from Michigan; Father Galtier came from France by order of Rome and only stayed long enough to establish a church and push for the city name of Saint Paul instead of Pigs Eye. Remember them? In Madison, I learned about James Doty, who came from New York; he lived in Detroit before he bought the land that he platted into the city of Madison; then he 05 sailboats madisonworked for Wisconsin statehood. (Wisconsin is still miffed over the fact that a huge chunk of land to the north belongs to Michigan, even though it is not connected to Michigan, but is a part of Wisconsin’s geography.) From there I continued east to Michigan, and Lansing, (where that huge chunk of land is justified in the land divvy-up because “Ohio got the Toledo Strip, so we got the Upper Peninsula!”). Lansing was settled because in 1835 two slick-talkers scammed some folks in Lansing, New York, who then came and settled that part of Michigan and named their new city Lansing. Meanwhile, down in Ohio, 05 Schuyler houseColumbus was settled by miners and farmers and entrepreneurs coming in via the National Road from Maryland, and a lot of former New Yorkers. Now I’m in New York; here everybody talks about Henry Hudson; Dutch names such as Van Rensselaer and Schuyler are on every post; and events of the 1600s are common conversation. History is a long-running soap opera. And I love it! » read more

 
 
 

On Henry’s Behalf

29 hh hmLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – A lot of good things are discovered while somebody is looking for something else, like a passage to China. The Hudson River Valley is one such example. Now, the river was there eons before Englishman Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon about as far north as where Albany sits today. That was 1609, when Henry was commissioned by the Dutch East India Company to find a way to get to Asia in a hurry, where they could trade for exotic spices. Henry wasn’t the first European to observe the river; in 1524 Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano (sailing for France) sailed all around the Upper Bay; he just didn’t go as far north as Henry did. And before Verrazano came along, the Iroquois, who lived along both banks of the lower portion of the river (now 29 half moonNew Jersey and Manhattan) had already named the river “Muhheakantuck” – translate that to “river that flows two ways.” Because the Hudson River is subject to the rise and fall of the tides; as far north as Albany there is a four-foot tide twice a day. The river comes out of Henderson Lake in the Adirondack Mountains and flows 315 miles south before emptying into Upper New York 29 hm wvBay. Its lower half is a tidal estuary; tidal water influences the flow as far north as Troy. I learned that today while sailing on the river myself, on a daily afternoon run of the Dutch Apple Cruises. The cruise started, appropriately enough, with a full-on description of the buildings of Albany alongside the river; with particular attention called to the 800-pound weathervane atop the SUNY headquarters. Hard to make out from a distance, but the narrator assured us it was an exact replica of Henry’s ship, the Half Moon. » read more

 
 
 

It’s Really, Really Old

27 fort orangeLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – Age denotes character. Isn’t that what you’ve always heard? If that’s true, then Albany has character aplenty, because Albany is old. Really, really old. It is the longest continuously chartered city in the United States, tracing back to July 22, 1686 when Governor Dongan issued a charter fixing boundaries, setting up a municipal government, naming the first officers, and establishing Albany as the sole market town in the upper Hudson River region. Mayor Pieter Schuyler took the oath of office July 26, 1686, and the rest, as 27 capitol poolthey say, is history. But the European history of the area goes back even further, to 1609, when a fellow by the name of Henry Hudson sailed a ship up the river that now bears his name. This led the Dutch to lay claim to the area; by 1624 the Dutch West India Company had built a trading post on the west bank of the river and named it Fort Orange. There were soldiers for protection, employees to conduct business, and farmers to provide food. By the 1640s a fur trading community had evolved north of the Fort; it took the name Beverwyck. Fast forward; the Fort became less profitable to the Company; there was a devastating Hudson River flood; New Netherland fell to the English. Beverwyck was renamed Albany in 27 cec pool1664, in honor of the Duke of Albany, who later became England’s King James II. The English built a new fort, and that brings us back to the Dongan Charter of 1686. Those are the bones of the Albany story; after a visit to the Empire State Plaza I’ll begin to flesh it out. That’s where the castle-like State Capitol and the sleekly modern Cultural Education Center do a face off, across shimmering pools. » read more

 
 
 

A Good Ride

25 blue ponchosLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – Some days are more perfect than others. Today was one of my more perfect days as I drove from Buffalo to Albany. My shoes were still wet from yesterday. But who can complain, when your shoes are soaked by the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. The event is a watery blur in my mind and my pictures don’t help; they mostly show shiny blue ponchos, required clothing on a Maid of the Mist boat ride. I was wearing one myself, but it didn’t prevent the torrent of water that sloshed in over my shoes. Again, and again, and again. 25 thruway signChildren shrieked with laughter and mothers gasped as the boat pulled perilously close to American Falls, and then equally close to the Canadian side, and the even bigger Horseshoe Falls. I pulled the front of my poncho down to cover my non-waterproof cameras and blinked the water out of my eyes, unable to hear the narrator, just listening to the roar. And getting wet. Now, that was a good ride; one of those things in life everybody ought to do at least once. I was feeling pretty chipper as I loaded the car this morning in my squishy shoes under blue sky in 70 degree air, perfect. On the outskirts of Buffalo I entered the Toll Plaza 25 pembrokefor the I-90 Thruway and got my ticket for another good ride, straight through to Albany. The New York Thruway isn’t fancy and the pavement looks old, but there were no potholes, no construction cones, and few trucks. And best of all, every thirty miles there was a service plaza offering at least three restaurants in a food-court setting, fuel pumps, and information about New York. I stopped at the Pembroke Plaza first, coffee in mind. » read more