Emeriti Matters Newsletters
What did I do during the Pandemic
How am I coping during the pandemic? It depends on the day. On good days, I am happy to be sheltering at home in a neighborhood I love—walking daily in Elizabeth Park, chatting with friends at an appropriate social distance, enjoying the many creative entertainments available locally and on-line. And I have plenty of “work” to keep me busy—I belong to two different writing groups, have committed to several virtual lectures on Toni Morrison, and always have e-books and NYTimes Sunday crossword puzzles at hand. On bad days, I feel trapped and lonely. I had to cancel plans to visit my grandkids in April, to sail with friends in Toronto this summer and to return to Greece in the Fall. I have not seen my husband at the assisted living facility where he resides for over four months. Since he has lost the ability to speak, Skype “meetings” are exercises in pure frustration. I envy my neighbors whose NYC and DC families have been “forced” to move in with them. Perhaps this September I will risk the full day of traveling it takes to get to my family in Moab, Utah hoping my positive Vitamin D levels will help protect me and them.
Turns out “we’re all in this forever” doesn't’t mention that all of us face the same challenges. My wife and I are fortunate; we are retired, have several outside interests that continue even now. She is the music director at a church in Granby; every week she produces choral music by her choir, placed on Facebook every Sunday for the “contactless” service. I assist her by recording and engineering the video & audio files. I am actively involved with the water commission in tiny Tariffville (1,400 residents), involved with our wells, pumps, motors, storage tank and distribution system.
In contrast, our daughter (professor of mechanical engineering at Wellesley College) has provided distance learning experiences for her students, a challenging task for M.E. lab courses without a lab to work in. And she’s assisting her two kids, ages 12 & 6. Age 12 is fine without much help needed, due to having superb teachers – very organized, talented and creative. Age 6 isn’t very independent, and requires lots of time from his parents, both MIT graduates (so math and science are not a problem). We do visit frequently with the granddads using Zoom, which also allows us to keep in close touch with our son & his wife in Norway.
Normally I’d be very involved from May to October as a docent at Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby, a National Historic Landmark. Sadly it’s shut, with no indication of when, or if, it may open. It’s impossible to have visitors safely tour the mine, dating back to 1707, and not inhale aerosol breathed by others. The best part of a visit to ONG is walking through the mine, to see what it was like for miners, and for 54 years for the prisoners in the first prison in the 13 Colonies. LIDAR (Google it) has provided a way to virtually tour the mine effectively. See it at: Old New Gate 3D LiDAR Scan
Since January I’ve had two knees “partially” replaced, so walking and biking are again activities we can enjoy together. We’re very distressed that, once again (gun violence, medical care expense & outcomes, et al) the U.S. is once again number one, with 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the pandemic illness and mortality. Let’s hope that changes soon; just as “click it or ticket” worked well for seat belts, perhaps “mask it or casket” will be effective.
We have been OK at home. And we are glad that we have remained safe and healthy.
We are in Milford, just south of New Haven, where we are closer to several of our children. We are abiding by the rules laid down by the governor and hoping the chemists ae working feverishly to find a vaccine! We are in good health and hope that everyone else is.
I’m coping just fine. As I am retired and my husband, Michael Walsh, has been on sabbatical this year, our lives haven’t changed all that much, minus our normal travel, of course. We are both writing books, which means lots of time spent at home at the desk. Also walks in previously uninvestigated state parks and occasional walks on the beach. We have a balcony on the ninth floor of a high rise, so we enjoy dinners at sunset there and watched nightly fireworks displays from early May until July 4th. Life could be worse, but I nonetheless wish I were in Paris.
First Ralph, I hope you and Lucille are doing well in this time of unbelievable change and stress. I keep in contact and do golf and/or coffee with President Emeritus Harrison often and ask about you both.
I feel I am coping well. My daughters are making sure I follow all safety protocols, and the West Hartford daughter and her husband do my weekly grocery shopping, while my Bay Area daughter is the supply chain via Target, for all things non-grocery. It has certainly been a trying four months, but family makes it much more doable.
Free time is lots of golf with grandsons; occasional walks and coffee with longtime friends as we don masks, practice social distancing and try to be positive on the political, social and economic outlooks. In that realm, Governor Lamont, in my estimation, has done a splendid job - just look at how the super growth states have blown it.
I still spend time each week helping the University from my home office. I still serve part time as Special Advisor to the President and often interact on behalf of the University with issues and people from our tri-Town setting, our state legislators (including seven who are alums) and our Congressional delegation. And I continue be amazed by the calls I get from my colleagues at the University looking for old information, background and opinions - what I would call “institutional memory”.
The bottom line is I am coping pretty well by my standards and I am amazed at what my full time colleagues are having to do, and in fact getting accomplished in the run up to the new school year. I just cannot fathom the issues, challenges and myriad of items that they touch and resolve each day. Hats off to all the staff and faculty- Go Hawks!
Best Regards / John CarsonP.S. - if I have had any disappointments, it is not getting to see one college graduation and one high school graduation of two of my grandchildren. But we are all healthy.
Plans to visit family in CT have been scrapped. I chat with my family, and, in particular, my grandchildren by Facebook. In spite of no requirements (or few) here in Florida, I take every precaution. Groceries are delivered. Masks are worn and distances honored. The state was opened too soon, so now we are in a terrible situation. I have physical therapy online.
My reading, and doing hobbies have increased. I have cleaned and organized everything! I was fortunate to get my gardens in shape before summer, since the summer tropic seems stronger this year...global warming? I still have plans to visit St. Lucia in the fall, but that is no longer a certainty. I watch the Metropolitan opera online. Church services are online. On the bright side, I am communicating with a colleague, Don Buckley, developing a course in science and society, a basis for understand this and other epidemics. That will keep me busy, and I will provide microbiology studies to the content.
I dream of being in Connecticut!
I miss the gym a lot, so I take daily brisk walks. I know every squirrel in Elizabeth Park. I am watching a lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Gin and tonic at least once per day. Occasional dinners outside with a small group of friends are comforting, as is working in my vegetable garden. I am growing enough to share with people who don’t grow food. That makes July infinitely better than March and April.
I think the most rewarding thing I have done is to revive a 45 year old activity: meditation. I abandoned it in my twenties because of its religious trappings and returned to it to quiet the anxiety of this pandemic. An ABC News anchor, Dan Harris, wrote a great book and website: Ten Percent Happier; How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress, and found self- help that actually works. His advice and experience is a great help and I sleep really well.
I miss my colleagues. I don’t miss grading papers.
I must confess that, now that I'm in my 94th year and a 25 year survivor of retirement, parts of my memory have become somewhat vague, while at the same time, I wrote to a West Coast friend recently that my 25 years at U H were like a stroll through Academic Paradise. It's not that I have forgotten the bad parts, it's that there were no bad parts. Except for the fact that I might have made more money elsewhere, I can't imagine how I could have enjoyed my work, colleagues and institutional associations any better anywhere else.
After the first phase of my retirement in Seattle, I moved back to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2002 in order to rejoin my elder son and his family. He had returned here because he had had such a good high school experience in Madison before we moved from here to West Hartford in 1970. After graduating from Marlboro College in Brattleboro he founded a small energy conservation business there but that suffered greatly and stopped being rewarding for him when the bankruptcy of one of the big construction companies in Hartford brought down big parts of the New England prosperity that had precipitated the regional collapse.
Matthew worked his butt off when he got back here, and things ended up quite well. Before the pandemic, he was constantly on the move cultivating international markets for the energy conservation manufacturing company that he built here with several partners.
I continued to write and lecture on my various projects until 2018, but I'm now concentrating on the fifth and final rewrite of a 300-hundred years Euro American family saga of a man I met in the Army during WW II who subsequently turned up in my life again 20 years following our wartime acquaintance. We became very dear friends. He was continually in motion with major projects that eventually became important to the international Information Revolution. The book is all about his extraordinary life and the extraordinary lives of his ancestors. I don't know yet if this sixth effort to tell the story is "just right," but it's going to be my last effort to tell this fascinating story.
I haven't been back to the Hartford area since 2018, and it's not clear when I'll get back to West Hartford again. Though I've been blessed by good health, I just don't feel like roaming around the country the way I used to.
I have nothing but happy memories of my experience and wonderful friendships during my 25 years at U H. I worry about how the university will be getting along in the unpredictable conditions of the present and the visible future. All I can do on that score is worry about how things unfold at 200 Bloomfield Avenue for all who are still there, and hope that here and there on the campus there may be a few people who remember me so that I am not totally forgotten.
With all good wishes, and my warmest memories to anyone there who may remember my name.
I am doing as well as possible during the pandemic. I am fortunate to live in a place that is somewhat isolated, so social distancing is easy. I also have miles of woods and beach to walk on every day. My little machine let’s me keep in touch with family and friends. I also let’s me research and write on the beach. All things considered, I am doing ok
Since my schedule is now completely flexible, I wasted no time in responding to your request. Attached is my answer to your question. I have also copied and pasted it below. Let me know if this is not what you were looking for.
I find that the best way to cope with the terrible present is to prepare for the eventual end of the pandemic. For me as a composer, this means producing new musical works that promote healing and foster the rebirth of our culture. I have composed two works that I hope will be useful in our post-pandemic future. Tree Of Life for solo trombone, harp, and string orchestra was written in memory of those killed during the October 27, 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The piece is meant to memorialize all who have died because of bigotry but it could also memorialize those who have died from disease. Sweet Prospect for string orchestra (also in a version for violin, cello, and piano) is another memorial work based on three short choral pieces from the uniquely American repertoire known as Sacred Harp or shape-note singing. Though both works are reflective and at times somber, both also express optimism in the future and joy in the beauty of our world and of humankind. I am currently working on a concerto for horn and orchestra inspired by the greatest musician of myth, Orpheus. Though not a memorial piece, the work celebrates the power of music to sustain and inspire us. I admit that the description of my work may sound grandiose, but it is better to aim high and create something less than perfect (constantly the case) than to aim low and create nothing of value. I am currently in contact with many musicians to plan for performances of these pieces when the situation allows for public concerts
All best wishes,Steve
Yes, so far my husband and I are safe and healthy. But since both of us are in the highest risk category, we mostly stay sheltered. Occasionally, we travel to grocery stores, CVS for prescriptions, and to medical appointments, although we have become accustomed to using telehealth when possible. We especially miss the health club (Big Sky in Vernon), but think it best to exercise at home until there is a vaccine. Fortunately, we each are engaged in writing projects, although I do miss having access to the university library.
Because we hadn't had haircuts since February, at the end of June, we went for haircuts at a barber shop that we'd been using for years. The barber and his staff and all of his clients wore masks. First time I'd ever worn a mask while my hair was being washed. The shop was equipped with fewer chairs, plastic shields, and a new sanitizing machine for cleaning the barber's equipment. I mention this because under the new normal what has always been taken for granted and considered insignificant, now looms large and is seen almost as an adventure.
We are appalled by the reports of those who, mostly in other states, are irresponsible, brushing aside knowledge of the serious consequences of the Covid virus, and those who are defiant, not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Equally appalling is the lack of leadership from a president who lives in a fantasy reality of his own making, a narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, political reality that defies common sense and disregards the findings of scientists and doctors. Fortunately, we live in a state that is cautious and shuns abuses of the guidelines initially set forth by the governmental Task Force.
Power walks around the neighborhood, exercise, research and writing, reading, crossword puzzles, and TV viewing fill up the days--nothing especially exciting or unusual. We do keep up with family members and friends, mostly through emails and phone calls.
I apologize for not having a more interesting answer to your question. But as mundane as our life has become, we are still able to live it--unlike so many others.
So nice other from you. I am safe and healthy and actually pretty busy.
I am coping well and have taken the time at home to do some projects in addition to my actual paid work that I can do from home pretty easily.
I bake most of our bread and have tried out new recipes. We do not order out or go out to eat. Also thinking about the menu for our donor gathering if we cancer have it again!
I have been in touch with old friends that I have not been in touch with for a long time. It has been very nice to catch up.
I have recycled tons of old files that I now know I can live without. There is more of that work to do but I needed to take a break from it.
I attend morning and evening services at our synagogue which conducts services via Zoom. It is very interesting to see how some people will not sign on at all and others find the ease of being part of the quorum are happy to be able to do it safely and easily from home.
Reading a lot and attending very interesting presentations on a variety of subject through Zoom. Took a course on The History of Jewish Food presented through YIVO.
First, I am SO glad the technology has evolved enough for us to actually see and talk with each other easily on Zoom. My first Zoom experience was a teaching conference on March 29th—the organizers didn’t have a lot of time to redesign but they did a fantastic job.
Next, what do I do every week? I use Zoom for yoga (3x) , personal training (2x), meditation (5x) and a regular happy hour with other academic women every Friday. Then of course there are Harvard Ed School webinars, Washington Post webinars, MIT webinars….and I’ve also been attending sessions on combating racism and inequities run by HartBeat and RAW (Real Art Ways). I have done Zoom Happy Hours for alumni of my sports camp (ESCAPE Camp.org) as well.
My biggest challenge will be to redesign a 2 ½ day program for about 40 bankers held every September. Its main purpose is to orient the students to their 2-year (monthly) leadership program and provide content on organization behavior. But a critical additional goal is to build community. I have always taught very interactively and converting the experiential activities to Zoom is a huge challenge. I work with a co-presenter who is more technologically savvy than I plus the CBA (CT Bankers Association) has a tech person on staff. However, it is a LOT of work! So one positive coming out of the pandemic is a lot of new learning for me.
I am sad about not seeing family and friends regularly but have enjoyed a few outdoor get togethers with local friends and am going to actually hug my granddaughter (not the FaceTime virtual hugs we’ve been living with) on Nantucket from 7/14-8/3. Needless to say, I am thrilled!
Hi Ralph, my husband and I were staying at home pretty much during March, April, and May. We read the NY Times daily and I do the mini crossword. We use Amazon Fresh for our groceries.
With the great weather here in Seattle, we started to spend every afternoon from 4-6 taking our grandchildren, ages 2 and 3, for walks to explore the area. They live only four blocks away. It is wonderful to see the world through the eyes of curious children. I share pictures of the children with family and friends back East.
I look forward to finding out how my fellow emeriti are doing.
Thank you for doing this project.
Hope all are safe!! When I retired from the University, I started my second career as an Realtor. Before the “Pandemic”, real estate kept me busy. Real estate is a people business similar to a University. Agents are like counselors providing educational information and financial requirements to attend an University or buy a potential property. It’s a sellers market due to lower inventories in areas that have high demands because of location , style of homes and closeness to work. I am selling homes north of Simsbury and South of Berlin. I work for a small firm in Berlin. We list homes at the shore, Hartford County and CT borders. If you are interested in a free property evaluation, please do not hesitate to call me.
My journey has been a challenge as I was living in Indiana most this academic year caring for my mom who passed on May 14th. I imagine there are others who are caring for loved ones during the pandemic. One of the biggest challenges was arranging a funeral where everyone would be safe. The funeral service was on June 5th in Indiana and we permitted only 10-12 people, (5 kids but only 4 could make it, 2 grandkids and a spouse, her husband and his 2 daughters,the pastor, and the pianist) all at social distance and with face coverings. We had the service live streamed also as all of the grandkids,friends, and our spouses wanted to see the service. We also had a zoom meeting as the live streaming didn't appear to be working great. It was frustrating but overall we were fine. There were 10-12 cars that followed us to the gravesite as they had waited outside of the funeral home until the service was over, about 30-40 minutes. Then we all went to a park with a covered pavilion and had a box lunch brought in. Folks were able to make their comments and offer remembrances then and it was really pretty funny. We learned things about our Mom we didn't know; she liked jello shots!- who knew.
Otherwise I've been doing fine and traveling back and forth between Hartford, Boston, and Martha's Vineyard where we have a home. Our 3 kids and our 2 grandkids are in the Boston area.
I'm still on a couple Boards: the Hartt School of Music, Dance,and Theater, and I'm the Chairwoman of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women. Also the Town and County Club has still been active through zoom. And these Boards have been active still but through zoom also.
So I've learned a little bit more technology that I planned to.
I hope you are also staying safe and meeting the challenges of our times.
My wife and I have probably doubled our hiking outside to 25+ miles a week, but work from home was our pattern before and still is, where we help maintain www.HumanRightsMeasurement.org. We do miss traveling, eating out, and being with (and hugging!) relatives and friends. I miss my rock climbing.
The first global initiative to track the human rights performance of countries
Thanks for the chance to think about this. Now back to making a new mask. 🙁
Sent a copy of his book’s review: LIVELY AND READABLE ‘COMPLETION’ Catharine or the Bower By Jane Austen Completed by Leo Rockas Brown Posey Press (2019) xii + 137 pages Paperback, $12.95
In response to your query as to “How I am doing—“, I have found the past several months an annoyance and an aggravation but at a time like this, being retired is a real advantage as it removes much of the difficulty faced by those still working. Being more or less isolated is an inconvenience to be sure but tolerable. As I mentioned to you a while back, I have had my books, my music, my wine and my two dogs to assist me so compared to many, I can’t complain. I also have a friend who provisions for me so that is a big help.
Trust all is well with you folks and hopefully life can gat back to some approximation of normal one of these days soon.
I am well, home with my husband, and delighted to be retired. I keep busy caring for our two-year-old grandson in the mornings. I continue to stay in touch with the University by serving on the Hillyer College Board of Visitors. I am also on the steering committee of the Farmington Valley League of Light.
I am enjoying three books a month for my three book groups, all now meeting virtually along with a variety of discussion groups and programs on Zoom. I've been baking bread each week since yeast and flour have once again become available. I'm also discovering and preparing new recipes as we enjoy the bounty of our garden and local farm stands. In the fall I'll be helping with our fourth grandchild once he is born.
My best wishes for good health to all the members of our Emeriti Association.
Members of the Emeriti Association are welcome and encouraged to submit a paragraph of their recent activities and interests, to keep their EA colleagues up- to-date. Please submit your paragraph to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some additions:
Regina Miller, ENHP. Regina will serve as the Interim Director of The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford for this coming academic year.
Stephen Gryc, Hartt, Composition. This coming October Professor Gryc will be a Guest Composer at the University of Ottawa and will teach a course in the University of Hartford’s Presidents’ College titled “Composer and Performer: How Music Is Made”. Stephen’s work is being performed throughout the country: Universities of Rochester, Hartford, Kentucky, Florida State, Arizona State, Oregon State, Ball State, the libraries at Englewood New Jersey and Middletown, CT, the Museums of Art Complex (Boston) and the New Britain Museum of American Art.
Humphrey Tonkin, Past President and University Professor of Humanities, Emeritus. Gave a series of lectures on Shakespeare for the San Marino Academy of Sciences. Published a couple of essays one on the great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, and the other on the Hungarian novelist Gyula Baghy. Taught a seminar on post-Elizabethan Great Britain for the U of H Presidents’ College.
Harvey Jassem, A&S, Communications. Harvey’s co-edited book, Urban Communication Regulation: Communication Freedom and Limits, Jassem and Drucker (eds) was published this year. He also serves on the boards of the Urban Communication Foundation, the Greater Hartford Jewish Community Relations Council, the University’s radio station WWUH, and hosts Monday morning Jazz on the station each week.
Harvey Jassem, A&S, Communication. My co-edited book came out earlier this year. Urban Communication Regulation: Communication Freedoms and Limits, Harvey Jassem and Susan Drucker, eds., was published by Peter Lang Publishing and contains works by Jassem, Drucker, and other scholars examining a variety of ways in which local regulations impact communication in urban areas. Jassem is a founding member of the Urban Communication Foundation and serves on its Board of Directors. He also serves on several other boards, including the Greater Hartford Jewish Community Relations Council, and radio station WWUH, where he hosts Monday Morning Jazz each week.
Donald Ellis, A&S, Communications. I look forward to joining your ranks and connecting with some old friends. In the meantime, I thought I would make my blog address available to those of you who might not be on my distribution list or would like to be. The blog deals with political communication issues in general with a focus on political conflict and communication. Just click below. You can join the blog at the top left opening screen. Just making it available to anyone you might be interested. I promise not to clutter up your email beyond occasional announcements and postings.
Wally Banzhaf, CETA, Engineering Technology. Member, Board of Directors, Tariffville Water Commission. Training to be a docent, Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine. Math tutor to Syrian refugee HS student, presented 4 workshops on making wire puzzles and electronic soldering at Simsbury Library, building a 3D kit.
Bill Coleman, A&S, Biology. One of my watercolors got an honorable mention at the Spring competitive show at the Fine Arts Center in Dunedin, FL. In April, I went from Beijing to Shanghai on a tour in China.
Mike Kahn, A&S, Clinical Psychology. Supervised a UConn psychiatric resident as Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School. Chaired an intersubjective/relational psychoanalytic study group for the Connecticut Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, maintained private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, celebrated wife’s 80th birthday with family at the Cliff House in Ogunquit. I resumed playing jazz saxophone, and gave a lecture at Emanuel Synagogue, “Growing up under the Shadow of the Holocaust.”
Sandra Katz, Hillyer, English. I gave a PowerPoint presentation on May 12, 2018 to alumni at the Avon Old Farms School. The talk was based on Dearest of Geniuses, the biography I wrote of Theodore Pope Riddle, the architect and founder of the school.
Harald Sandstrom, A&S, Politics and Government. It’s all about music! My barbershop chorus “Hartford Men in Harmony” did its Annual Show in Millard last year, will return November 10 with International Quartet Finalist “category 4” and Sweet Adelines “Sound of New England Chorus.” samples at https://hmih.org/2015-festival-of-harmony/. My quartet “Perpetuity” sang Valentines all over central CT last year and will deliver Valentines again next February. My quartet will compete for the Northeastern District championship in October.
Humphrey Tonkin, President Emeritus, Professor of Humanities. My edition of Tivadar Soros’s Masquerade was translated in Japanese (2017) and Mongolian (2018), the tenth and eleventh translations to have appeared. I recently (2018) published an Esperanto translation of Christopher Chippendale’s High Way to Heaven and an edition of collected English-language essays on planned language by Detlev Blanke (2018). I serve on a couple of NGO committees at the UN in New York and chair the board of a small foundation.
Bob Wallace, A&S, Psychology and Biology. Chaired the Executive Committee and the Emeriti Association, University of Hartford. Member College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board.
Ralph Zegarelli, A&S, Computer Science. With Jane Horvath teaches CS 105 - Agent-Based Modeling – a required course in the newly established Complexity Minor. He is a member of the Van Rooy Center for Complexity and Conflict Analysis, Board of Directors and attends biweekly meetings of Complexity Center, a group discussion of complexity theory with professors and students. Each semester Ralph enjoys serving students at “Midnight Breakfast”.