Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Requiem for a snow day
We hardly get these anymore. Also, 7 other things worth your time.
We had a pseudo-snow day yesterday. In 2023 in New Jersey, that seems like it's going to be about as good as it gets for Generation Alpha.
Wait, two things I should define:
Pseudo-snow day. This just means we had a bit of a snowstorm—hardly worth mentioning usually, a few inches, total. It led to a 2-hour delay for the schools in our town, but not a full day off.
Generation Alpha. This is the generation after Generation Z born roughly 2012 to a date to be determined, but most likely around 2025. The oldest of them are in elementary school. As a member of Generation X and the father of an Alpha, I love that our generation kind of messed up the generation-naming convention by being tagged with the 24th letter of the alphabet, so we have to start over.
A snow day—or even a pseudo snow day—is a gift. My wife and daughter and I enjoyed our delay; we went to the market nearby and got croissants and milk. My daughter got a Kinder Egg.
We scrambled eggs and I drank a lot of coffee. My daughter built a snowman in the backyard that looks uncannily like her. The dog ran around; this wasn't her first snowfall, but she's had few enough that you'd think it was.
I shoveled our little driveway even though the snow would probably have melted, mostly because my neighbor was shoveling his. I think 25 percent of the lengthy conversations we’ve had have been while we shoveled snow over the years.
I grew up in Rhode Island in the 1970s and 1980s, pre-Internet, so I remember snow days beginning as with an anxious scan of the radio or TV, hoping to hear that my town's schools were closed for the day.
Those days off are good memories, but they’re becoming things of the past.
New York City no longer "does" snow days no matter how bad the storm might be, since an announcement last September. (They'll do virtual learning, like it's 2020, instead.)
As controversial as the decision was, it's all been moot, since we've had almost no snow this year in the metro NYC area. Of all the thoughts rattling around in our Jungian collective unconscious, “snow days” are not the ones that I would have expected to become anachronistic so quickly.
And truth be told, my daughter spent more than enough time "attending" "school" over a Zoom connection at the height of the recent unpleasantness, so a bias toward being in the building with her friends and classmates is probably a good thing.
Still, it's a reminder. In this era of "quiet quitting" and "rage applying" and—as a reader turned me onto, "bare minimum Mondays"—there's a big undercurrent of burnout out there, for kids and grownups alike.
And, there's no quick cure for burnout like an unscheduled gift from Mother Nature that turns into a completely unplanned day off.
Enjoy it while you can, even if it means the newsletter you’re writing for the next day is a little bit shorter than usual.
7 other things worth knowing today
Conservative justices holding the Supreme Court’s majority seem ready to sink President Joe Biden’s plan to wipe away or reduce student loans held by millions of Americans. In arguments lasting more than three hours Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts led his conservative colleagues in questioning the administration’s authority to broadly cancel federal student loans because of the COVID-19 emergency. (Associated Press)
America is trying to electrify. The one problem: Nowhere near enough electricians. “I’m tired of telling people I can’t help them,” said Brian LaMorte, co-owner of LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling in Ithaca, N.Y., whose six-person company is booked roughly six months out. (WSJ, free)
Lori Lightfoot, the first Black woman and the first openly gay person ever to serve as mayor of Chicago, on Tuesday became a one-term mayor. With more than 98 % of the precincts reporting, the mayor who guided Chicago through the pandemic finished third in Tuesday’s election with 16.89% of the vote behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who won 33.95 % and Cook County Commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson, who wound up with 20.32%. (Chicago Sun-Times)
A move to create a new city out of the wealthiest part of Atlanta got a little more traction this week, after being blocked by Georgia legislative leaders last year. If approved and signed by Governor Brian Kemp, the measures would allow residents of the roughly 24-square-mile (62 square kilometers) Buckhead area to vote in November 2024 on whether to leave Atlanta and form their own city. (Bloomberg)
Ford has been granted a patent for a car that can repossess itself if its owner fails to keep up with payments. The system would kick in if the car owner failed to respond to messages informing them they were falling behind with payments. At that point, a series of measures would first be used to make the car unpleasant to drive, (disabling GPS navigation, the music system or the air conditioning ... and then enabling the car to create an “incessant and unpleasant sound”, such as a chime or beep, every time the owner gets inside). Finally, as a last resort, the car would return itself to the showroom. (New Scientist)
The inventor of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, is now 94 years old, says he was inspired by Dick Tracy's radio wristwatch, and he says he has one regret about his creation: "My most negative opinion is we don’t have any privacy anymore," he said at a trade show in Barcelona. (AP)
Even the Tooth Fairy can’t escape inflation. According to new Delta Dental findings from its 2023 Original Tooth Fairy Poll®, the average value of a single lost tooth during the past year increased 16% from $5.36 to $6.23. The new value not only has children beaming with gap-toothed smiles but also represents a record high in the 25-year history of the poll. (Delta Dental)