3/3 Dr. Mohanraj’s Vaccinated

While my dad has, I think, stopped taking new patients at this point (age 78), he’s still seeing his current patients (who love him and don’t want him to ever retire), and is still teaching young doctors. Given his high-risk category, I’m particularly relieved to see him getting his first COVID vaccination. As my middle sister said, we now have 3/3 Dr. Mohanraj’s vaccinated! Whew.

(I am technically Dr. too, yes, as I know someone will leap to say if I don’t forestall them, but not for any relevant purpose here! And since I’m teaching remotely in the spring, I am very willing to wait my turn in the line. I may not get vaccinated until summer, or even fall, and that is absolutely appropriate.)

Here for Each Other

Quick shout-out to Madhurima Chakraborty and husband Kris Stokes, who organized an online hyperlocal crafts fair to support local artisans and Oak Park Mutual Aid — all the artisans donated at least 10% of sales (some a lot more) to OPMA as part of the project. (Madhurima is now on the ballot for our local library board, and I encourage you to vote for her in April; she’d be terrific on the board.)

These are a few of the packages I have out for porch pick-up today as a result of her fair, and more importantly, we’ve raised over $800 to support OPMA, which has been offering grocery deliveries, small direct grants of cash, winter coat donations, and more, since the pandemic began.

If you missed the fair, you can still donate directly — we’re currently at a little over $40,000 of a $50,000 goal. And we’re always looking for more volunteers.

Here’s a little more information on what OPMA has done so far, and what we’re hoping to do going forward. Give if you can, and if you need a hand right now, ask.

We’re here for each other; we can get through this pandemic winter, together.


COVID-19 affects all of us, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. We want to help those in greatest need.
– Some of your neighbors have lost their jobs and are unable to purchase groceries or pay for basic living expenses.
– Others are immuno-compromised or are actively quarantining because of sick family members and need help picking up groceries or prescriptions.

– State-level unemployment benefits are expiring for many, and future Federal relief remains unknown.

Oak Park Mutual Aid is dedicated to mitigating the ongoing impact of COVID-19 through dynamic economic and social support.
We strive to provide the following services:
– Referral to Federal, State, and other local sources of ongoing assistance
– Food Assistance
– Medication Pick Up
– Grocery Pick Up
– Limited Financial Assistance
– Referrals for Mental Health Support
– Clothing Drives
– Wellness Phone Check-ins

– Tutoring/Homework Help

Thanks to generous donors and Oak Park Mutual Aid’s volunteer network as of November 15th, 2020, we have raised more than $37,649 through GoFundMe and $16,545 through other channels.

These funds have made possible:
– $35,890+ in limited financial assistance, food, personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies, medication , and clothing
– 465+ deliveries of healthy food and other items
– 312+ online requests for assistance and referrals reviewed and fulfilled

– Help for more than 200 families and individuals in and around Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park


GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/…/oak-park-mutual-aid-covid…

Website to learn more, request help, become a volunteer: https://oakparkmutualaid.com

The craft fair is over, but we may bring it back in the spring — you can still take a look, if you’re curious, to see what sorts of items were available, and many of the artisans have their own online stores where you can still shop: https://oakparkmutualaidcraftfair.com


I am SO relieved that my pulmonary & critical care doc sister, who was caring for so many patients through the worst of New York’s crisis, has just received her first dose of COVID vaccine. She says she feels fine. For her, her husband, their adorable preschooler daughter, and everyone who loves them, a little weight finally easing.

Vaccines for everyone, as quickly as possible, please.


The Irish Shop

Persimmons are in season, hooray! Joined by a breakfast fresh-made scone (they bake on Fridays, but have them in the freezer other days), slathered in rich Kerrygold butter, from The Irish Shop (on Oak Park Ave, just a little south of Lake).

Not a local restaurant, exactly, but totally worth supporting, especially since in addition to the various sausages (bangers! blood pudding!), pot pies, etc. in the freezer, AND all the imported Irish tea and cookies, etc., you can easily get quite a bit of holiday shopping done as well, with items for everyone on your list. Stay warm with Irish wool this winter…and that knitted ceramic teapot and cookie jar? I die.



The Laneways

Good morning, folks. Coming out of this morning’s iGov meeting, I had an idea that I wanted to run past people, something that might help out some of our struggling businesses. (This is mainly aimed at locals, though others with relevant experience are welcome to weigh in!)

In Melbourne, there’s an area called the Laneways. (Also sometimes referred to as the arcades.) This is a vibrant shopping district in the alleys behind buildings. It is utterly charming, full of cute little restaurants and tiny shops, plus lots of great graffiti-style street art. I think sometimes businesses split the back of their space to rent to a separate business that operates out of the alleyway, and sometimes it’s all the same business, street side and alley side.

We’ve had a tough time here with street construction + COVID seriously affecting local businesses. I heard that while some businesses are about to have to close down their sidewalk patios for construction, they may be allowed to set up alleyway options.

I think that’s great, but I’m a little worried that unless there’s a concerted effort to support that, people just won’t even think of venturing into the alley to find their open-air dining (and I know it’s rainy today, but with a canopy, I think you could eat outside for another month at least, maybe more with a patio heater or two?)

I’m wondering whether we could use a local community group to work on a Laneways project here, something that might extend beyond the pandemic time, and add a rich additional bit of cultural bustle to the shopping districts. It would beautify the relevant alleys too. They might have to shut down for winter, but once the pandemic is no longer an issue, hanging walls might also help extend the season.

I’m trying to think about what downsides might be. Would neighbors object? It’d be a little extra noise in the alley, but that might be counteracted by additional safety with more people around. It’d likely feel a bit more urban, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing?

This is just a brainstorming post (cross-posted to Shop Local Oak Park and Oak Park Development Watch, as well as my own wall). I’d love to hear people’s thoughts.

If it seems worth pursuing, I’m envisioning a coalition of business owners and interested consumers coming together to discuss and shape the project, defining parameters of a first test alley or two, to present a plan to the Village Board for their approval, to perhaps raise funds to help businesses who need financial assistance with supplies, but mostly to help get the word out and patronize those businesses once it’s up and running.

(I cannot take on another thing to run, but I’d be happy to be part of the committee, at least for the initial brainstorming, which is my strong suit. :-))

Photos of Melbourne’s Laneways for inspiration.

Zoom Guidelines

I’m sort of glopping together various Zoom guides I see, will keep editing this to make something that works for my classes:

During our optional (but likely very helpful) Zoom calls, it’ll help if you stick to the following guidelines:

1. Log on to Zoom at least 5-10 minutes in advance in case of any technical or logistical issues, and also to enable assignment to breakout groups prior to the beginning of class.

2. Add your pronouns next to your name in your Zoom window

3. You’re encouraged to turn your camera on (when possible / comfortable); it makes for better class interaction if most cameras are turned on. Feel free to use virtual backgrounds if you like.

4. Decide how you will take notes while keeping the Zoom screen open; remember to have the chat window open too, and please feel free to converse with your classmates there.
(Note: All Zoom chat with the host is public and recorded in the transcript, even what appears to be private, and private chats are sent to the host.)

5. If you are having technical difficulties, or know you will be late, make sure to send an e-mail to the professor BEFORE class begins.

6. Mute yourself unless you are speaking. (Your host also has the power to mute you.)

7. You hopefully won’t need to purchase any additional equipment. Your phone or computer’s built-in microphone is typically sufficient. A set of headphones with a microphone offers a slight improvement in microphone quality.

8. Try to not to walk/move from room to room. If you must do so, turn off your video while you relocate. Once you’re settled again, you can turn on your video again.

9. If you arrive mid-discussion, try not to interrupt.

10. If you click participants, you can see a list of who’s there, and that also will let you click ‘raise hand’ or ‘lower hand’. I’ll try to keep watch for that, but you can also raise your actual hand, if you have video on.

11. We’re all responsible for maintaining a functioning video call. No one is criticizing you when reminding you of meeting etiquette – mute your mic, wait your turn etc.

12. Any pets or children that interrupt should be introduced. You are encouraged to call them your coworker.