C15: alternativ verklighets = alternate realities

The Universes of Max Tegmark
Alternate reality 1
Wow. That was an amazing trip. We've long talked about traveling around southern Italy, and Chris remembers fondly a trip to Greece when he was a kid. Southern Italy was so cool- great to see Pompei and poke around the ruins. We enjoyed Rome, though as usual, it was busy- several trips to Italy but I've never been to Rome. We then flew to Athens, bought some provisions and headed to the sail boat with Jamie, Hans, Nina and Margot. What a trip- sailing through the Greek archipelago of islands. Generally nice weather- a few cool days but gorgeous sunshine and water all around. Hard to believe that we switched worlds and are now back in Stockholm- time for school and work again. What we were working on, anyway? I'll post pictures later after I have a chance to go through them.

Alternate reality 2
We enjoyed exploring Northern Sweden- took a 12 hour train up north of Kiruna and the Arctic Circle. The spring skiing was unbelievably good- as much as the snow in southern Sweden didn't show up, Northern Sweden received a ton this year (record breaking, really). We had fun poking about and exploring this part of Sweden- but it is a long way up here! I was bummed not to make it up for the Jokkmokk (largest and longest-standing winter trading market) in February, but it's great to be here now. Both the Swedes and Norwegians (likely the Finns too?) take their spring skiing seriously. We didn't get to see the northern lights- just have to come back again. We're looking forward to trips to the Netherlands (I'm guest teaching next week at IHE Delft), Finland to see my host family (I was an exchange student in 1991 in Turku), and exploring Sweden more.

Alternate reality 3:
Kids were out of school for easter break but with no assignments and no ability to travel, we walked or biked from home. Went exploring the local woods, found some orienteering to do. Watched a lot of movies (Netflix from Europe is much more limited though; Disney+ hasn't yet made it to Sweden). Did a lot of reading, some baking. not sure we're into this kind of "holiday" break- looking forward to the kids being back in school, even if it's online. We don't anticipate Sweden changing its coronavirus strategy anytime soon- so home schooling and working from home day in and day out?

Alternate reality 4:
The kids' school announced a mandatory "everyone back in school" as of 27 April.

Dear Parents of the Futuraskolan community,

We hope this note finds you well and that your families are in good health and good spirits.

We are now almost a month into the pandemic and the crisis that has hit Sweden and the rest of the world. With the Easter holiday behind us we are now looking forward to the summer break and hopefully an upcoming return to normalcy in our near futures.

At many of our schools over the past month students and teachers have been at home as soon as they show symptoms of the COVID-19 condition, this has been both necessary and responsible for reducing the spread of infection. This has also resulted in an increased burden on attending staff and in some cases has inspired the need to adjust our developmental processes.

Our goal is to continue to provide an ambitious, rigorous curricular agenda while ensuring we have a safe and well-functioning set of routines to provide academic guidance and care.

It has come to our knowledge that some guardians have chosen to keep their children at home for preventive purposes. Though we respect this perspective, national guidelines remind us that students who are not showing symptoms should be at school to enjoy the benefits of socially interacting with their friends and to take advantage of their learning processes.

In cases where the custodian keeps his or her child at home for reasons that do not warrant a doctor’s certificate our municipalities are requesting attendance reports for students, as per Chapter 7. Section 23 of the School Act.

We will be discontinuing many of our digital learning support processes effective Monday April 27, 2020, as school is open and students are expected to attend.

Teachers will no longer be hosting online instruction or meetings with students who are not in attendance. Assignments and learning will still be posted on Google Classroom, but Google Meet sessions will no longer be active method of delivering instruction.

Our schedule for Primary School and Middle School will return to normal and will no longer operate on a reduced, altered schedule.

We thank you for your efforts to help support your child’s social, emotional and academic development by ensuring they are active participants in their in school developmental process.

Best wishes for the remainder of your weekend.

Tom Callahan, CEO Futuraskolan AB

Sweden continues to pursue its own path on the coronvirus, and as of today, more than 1,580 Swedes have died (with about 1/3 in care facilities, and Sweden's "foreign" population- the immigrants).

People were out partying over the weekend and outdoor cafes were crowded. The last straw was the kids school taking away the online option. We decide we've had it and are making plans to retreat to the US-- renting a house for now in Houserville (in the State College area). Working on re-enrolling the kids in the State College Area School District for the remainder of the spring.

[Okay- the reality is somewhere between 3 and 4, shifting more towards 4 as the day went along. We've not yet pulled the plug on being here- kids are home schooled this week but who knows for next week. Letter from parents asking for the online option to continue. We wrote our own letter pointing out our situation. And here we are, trying to figure out our options, again].

I've always been struck by science fiction & alternative realities- though others in the family read more science fiction than I do. As key dates come and go, what we had planned and what is happening continue to shift further apart. We spend a lot of time and emotional energy trying to adapt to each day, each event. I woke up two nights ago- who knows why- at 4 in the morning. Good news is that it was light enough to read a novel by 4:30 without a light.

We like to keep our options open but the school's edict is a hard one; we'd rather have our own choice of an alternative reality than one foisted on us. Chris congratulated Elizabeth the other day about doing well at focusing and putting on a brave face-- she noted that it was only on the outside. The prospect of not seeing her friends here again in person- breaks my heart. There are many things that break my heart about this whole situation, not the least of which is watching what's happening the US. But for now, time to sleep and see what tomorrow brings.