Grocery-store Workers Are Risking Their Lives to Stay Alive

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

Thank them. Then, thank them again. -HK

In an earlier comment, I mentioned the grocery-store workers who are risking their lives to provide the essential materials for our daily lives — food and other consumables. I had hoped that none of these would pay the ultimate price for their efforts. When you realize that too many of the workers faced the choice of safety or a minimal income to sustain them and their families, such a cost would be doubly unfortunate. With great sadness, I read of the deaths of four such workers from COVID-19.

Grocery-store employee was never a heroic job before, but things have changed dramatically. They, like those hospital employees who are not health-care professionals, also serve. -HK

In these times, when far too many families are living from paycheck to paycheck, it is morally wrong to force such choices on them. They do not have any financial reserves to weather this crisis. This tragedy of disease makes me even more sad when I think that the dead workers probably were infected from one of the hundreds of customers who patronize these stores daily. That a careless customer could have wreaked such pain on the family of someone who was probably working extra hours to ensure that that customer could buy necessities hurts my soul.  Continue reading

My Life in LA County During COVID-19: April 6

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

Sure enough, at about 10 pm, I was up and peeked at the front porch to see four large brown paper bags nicely illuminated by the porch light. -HK

Apr 6, 2020 at 6:57 AM: When I scored the very last Amazon Fresh slot for Sunday (7-9 pm), it was with some trepidation that I placed an order. I had read of some unpleasant experiences during this time of trial and lots of tribulation. I also thought of those who are risking exposure to make the deliveries in order to have a modest income while unemployment soars. My wife and I are usually in bed by 9 pm but could stay up until that time to receive this important delivery. I really had no idea what to expect.

Of course, I chose an unattended delivery so that I wouldn’t have to be physically present to receive the groceries. When an email from Amazon appeared that informed me of a two-hour delay in the delivery, I was very happy that I made this selection. At my age, some amount of BPH is to be expected (darn prostate!) so that I am usually up around 10 to 10:30 pm each night on my first of 2-4 trips. I left the porch light on upon retiring and settled down to sleep worry-free.  Continue reading

My Life in LA County During COVID-19: April 3

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

My primary problem has to do with two older people living together alone. If one contracts the infection, the other will necessarily have it, too. -HK

Apr 3, 2020 at 12:33 PM: After days of frustration, I finally found an Amazon Fresh delivery date that I could reserve. My cart had two items removed in the meantime. I added some more only to have one of these taken away at the last moment. For those wishing to use this service, I found that that slots were available at 3 am and were still there at 6 am. I think that the midnight slot grabbers were no longer so plentiful. The good news is that I have enough stuff coming on Sunday to keep my family of two going for another week.  Continue reading

Skype As an Alternative to Zoom

Bert Kimura (4/3/20 10:45AM HST) shared an article by Michael Potuck1 on his Facebook page. Potuck reports that, “starting today, [Skype] users don’t need to sign up for an account or download software to join cross-platform video conferences. There’s also a simpler interface that allows users to start a video call in just one click. Skype announced the changes on Twitter and on a new landing page today:

Easy video meetings with no sign ups or download. Generate your free unique link with one click, share it with participants and enjoy unlimited meetings with Skype. Full set of features at your disposal. Your meeting link does not expire and can be used anytime.

You can instantly create a free Skype meeting from any device on the new Skype page here.”

Current Skype users should look for the “Meet Now” option.

__________
1Skype ditches account and download requirements, offers link-based option for free video calls” (9to5Mac, 3 Apr. 2020 11:08AM PT).

All Online Courses Aren’t Equal: Critical Sync-Async Difference

By Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

In the University of Hawaii System yesterday (March 31), we received a memo about our 2020 summer sessions: The May 26 to July 3 session will be online only; the July 6 to August 14 session may include F2F sections if we’re clear of the COVID-19 emergency measures by May 15.

A potential registration problem in the midst of this pandemic is the blanket use of the word online. When nearly every course is designated online, the lack of distinction will be confusing for students. The question foremost in the minds of many will be: “Will we have to meet online at a specific time?”

This question highlights the critical difference between sync and async1 classes. Sync classes, although online, require students to meet at specific times on specific days. This is a hardship for many with responsibilities (e.g., jobs, caring for family members), in distant locations (e.g., different time zones), or with preferred learning styles (e.g., async vs. sync) that make it difficult or impossible to participate.  Continue reading

My Life in LA County During COVID-19: April 1

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

The richest, most “entitled” communities have the most viral spread. -HK

There are 88 cities in Los Angeles County, California. Each city has a mayor and a city council. -Wikipedia

Apr 1, 2020 at 5:06 AM: My little town of 36,000 is one of the few in LA County with more than 100 out of 100,000 reported cases of the virus. Others include Bel Air, Beverly Crest, Brentwood, Carthay, Century City, Crestview, Hancock Park, Hollywood Hills, Melrose, Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes Estates, and West Hollywood. You may notice a pattern here. The richest, most “entitled” communities have the most viral spread. They thought that they were immune and ignored the warnings — or else, they simply are the ones with more access to testing because of their wealth. (Or both?)  Continue reading

DIY Alternatives to Turnitin for Written Tests

By Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

A memo was circulated today by Maria Bautista, our Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs1, re “Assessment During Remote Delivery of Spring 2020 Courses or Proctored Tests Alternatives and Information Sharing.” In response, Guy Kellogg posted a comment about using Turnitin. In response to Guy’s comment, I posted the following reply:

There are also DIY means to discourage plagiarism as well as ghostwriting2:

1. One is to assign unique topics — as opposed to generic. To make a topic unique, here are some possibilities:

  • Require the inclusion of quotes from specific or nonmainstream readings, videos, or class lectures. The more specific or atypical, the better.
  • Require the inclusion of quotes from classmates in online discussions or from a personal interview.
  • Require the inclusion of a firsthand experience or observation, i.e., a paragraph or more of personal narrative — to support the student’s thesis.
  • Require the application of specific critical thinking tools — e.g., logical fallacies, SMELL, Henry, or Davis Oldham’s “Evidence” (Shoreline CC) — for the purpose of analysis.
  • Other: _______. Once you begin thinking in terms of unconventional writing assignments that are unique to your course, many other possibilities will spring to mind.

Continue reading