Day 64 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

The kiss was so light that most people thought it was an insect that briefly landed on them or may the wings of butterfly passing too closely.

Monday, May 18, 2020 – Live to Blog NOT from a Venutian Spaceship

#alonetogether

Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum, radio legend and Matt Damon doppelganger here. This is another edition of Truth Be Told. The source of COVID-19 is now known, and I’ve got the scoop.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2019, while millions of Americans were eating their turkey and pumpkin pie, a Venutian spacecraft hovered over Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province. While the citizens of Wuhan went about their daily shopping, an invisible landing party of 13 Venutian’s beamed down. They immediately began to infect people with a virus in the city’s wet market by running up and kissing people lightly on the forehead.

The kiss was so light that most people thought it was an insect that briefly landed on them or even the wings of a butterfly passing too closely. It would not be long before people became ill and the scientist’s would begin investigating. By the time the Novel Coronavirus was discovered, many more were ill, some were dying, and the virus began to spread outside of Wuhan.

Truth be told, COVID-19 was planted on earth by the Venutians as the first wave of an interplanetary plot to take over the earth and enslave all human kind. If we are to…

Artist’s rendering of Winthrop being beamed aboard the Venutian ship.
  • Me: WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Winthrop, what the heck are you doing? I’ve told you before, many times, you are not welcome in this blog unless you are invited.
  • Winthrop: I know and I wouldn’t be here except it is a matter of life and death. I’ve not only discovered the source of COVID-19 but I have the cure as well.
  • Me: No you don’t, Winthrop. You have some idiotic story about invisible Venutians kissing people on the forehead. That almost as far-flung as some of the conspiracy theorys floating around out there.
  • Winthrop: No, it’s different. It is verified.
  • Me: What?!? Wait…wait…How?
  • Winthrop: By me!
  • Me (rolling eyes, shaking head): Of course it is…how did that happen Winthrop?
  • Winthrop: It’s a secret.
  • Me: What do you mean “it’s a secret?”
  • Winthrop: I can’t tell. I promised I wouldn’t.
  • Me: Who made you promise, Winthrop?
  • Winthrop: I’d rather not say.
  • Me (sarcastically): Oh, I get it. I suppose the Venutians made you promise?
  • Winthrop: How’d you know that? Who told you?
  • Me (now wanting to have some fun of my own): Who do think? The Martians! They always outsmart the Venutians, don’t you know that?
  • Winthrop: Who said that?
  • Me: Winthrop, I’m only messing with you. I made that up. I didn’t talk to any Martians because there aren’t any. And you didn’t talk to any Venutians because there aren’t any of them either.
  • Winthrop: Yes, there are.
  • Me: How do you know that?
  • Winthrop: They beamed me up in their ship. They had heard me on the radio and wanted to make sure a reporter had their story.
  • Me: Oh, yeah, that makes ALOT of sense now.
  • Winthrop: Good! I wasn’t sure you’d believe me.
  • Me (exasperated): Of course I don’t believe you, Winthrop! Why should I believe you? Look, buddy, I think the stress of all this is getting to you.
  • Winthrop: No, it’s not. I know what I know. You know what else I know?
  • Me: Oh, I can only imagine! What is it?
  • Winthrop: They told me the cure in case I got infected.
  • Me: Let me guess…I’ve heard this somewhere before…is it you drink Clorox or you inject Lysol? Maybe swallow a flashlight?
  • Winthrop: Those are all ridiculous and some would even kill you! No, it’s “Baby Shark.”
  • Me: What? That obnoxious children’s song?
  • Winthrop: Yeah, it is. You hold hands with one other person and you both sing it together three times. You’re cured!
  • Me: Okay, that’s it, Winthrop! Leave my blog and go take your temperature. Your fever must be really high today.

On Theories Like Winthrop’s

On the Media is a weekly radio program broadcast on many National Public Radio stations and a podcast. The May 15th program is titled Communication Breakdown. There were two segments which really grabbed my attention. One (Mixed Messages in the Heartland) is about the absence of Federal data and directives concerning COVID-19 in the Heartland of the U.S. This is something we have heard personally about from Alonzo and Starlee, our good friends from the Heartland with whom we have Saturday morning Zoom coffee. Both work in professional positions where that information is vital and it has become clear they are not receiving it. It is distressing to say the least. The other (What to Say When a Loved One Shares Pandemic Disinfo) is on conspiracy theories, and other whacky ideas, about COVID-19. Within that segment is advice on how to engage with friends and family who are convinced by them. You can find and listen to Communication Breakdown here on the On The Media website.


Just Sayin’ – Sheltering-In-Place Works

Everyone knows it is a real pain to be confined to your home for such a long period of time. But does it matter? Recent research from the University of Iowa College of Public Health found that stay-at-home orders do seem to be making a difference in the spread of COVID-19. The study compared five counties in Iowa along the Mississippi River with five counties on the other side of the river in Illinois. The five counties in Illinois issued broad shelter-in-place orders back in March while Iowa has not yet issued similar orders. When comparing the two sets of counties, the Iowa counties had 30% greater increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. This research is consistent with research that is beginning to emerge from other studies.


Hmmm…You Either Laugh or You Cry

This three minute video was produced by The Atlantic.


“Unprecedented”

You know comedian Jim Gaffigan. He is almost instantly recognizable. He does a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, usually in the closing minutes. This past Sunday he did a commentary on living in unprecendented times. It is fun, funny, and a bit wistful. Enjoy!


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 33 – The Invisible White Winged Warrior is receiving treatment for his invisibility as the Policy Commissioner is being asked by Washington to summon our Hero to help in a national emergency.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t allow yourself to be kissed by any Venutians.

Tom

Day 59 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I love that we have so much wildlife on the golf course. Except for some of the human wildlife, none have ever been agressive.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under Velociraptor Threat

#alonetogether

People send me things. No, I’m not saying you should send me things. I’m just saying that people do send me things. Whenever I possible I like to share them in this blog.


From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

One of the things sent to me by a reader was a link to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I love the tag line for the site: “Daily humor almost every day since 1998.” It makes me think of this tag line for this blog: “Daily attempts at humor that fall short every day and end up as drivel on your shirt.” Actually, that may be too long. Perhaps just, “Daily attempts at humor” or just “Drivel on your shirt.”

Seems I’ve distracted myself. Back on task…

The specific link I received was to a wonderfully clever piece written in response to Mr. Trump’s death defying act of re-opening the country despite warnings from public health officials and others who actually do know stuff. I’m not going to reprint it here to respect McSweeney’s copyright but I do encourage you to read the piece, “Sure, the Velociraptors are Still on the Loose, but that’s No Reason not to Reopen Jurassic Park.” There are no pictures but it does have popular culture references and dinosaurs. Enjoy!


Turkey 1, Golfer 0

Golf courses here in Maryland reopened a week ago. I am an avid golfer and I found the perfect golf course just three miles from my house. As a “senior citizen” I get to play all day for $12, which would be great if I really could play all day. In reality, I’m lucky if I can get out once or twice a week and then for just a couple of hours. I love the golf course because it is not a push-over. It is very hilly so it is a tough course to walk, but that’d good for me. The greenkeepers have a weird sense of humor that borders on sadistic as evidenced by their pin-placements on every darn green. And the golf course is also a protected area for wild life. In fact, it is a monarch butterfly sanctuary! How cool, huh?

My golf course is taking COVID-19 seriously from check in procedures to rules about masks and single cart riding, for those who ride carts.

I love that we have so much wildlife on the golf course. Except for some of the human wildlife, none have ever been agressive. Just beautiful! However, that is not the case everywhere as I was reminded by a video I saw on Instagram earlier this week. It was a video taken by a golfer’s “friend” who was observing him fighting with a turkey. The turkey had staked its ground near the golfer’s ball and refused to let the golfer get near it to take his next shot. You don’t need sound for the video, just watch it. In fact, I think the sound detracts from it…except at the end when you hear the turkey give out a victory gobble.


Not Quite Like Being Live

Yesterday I did a 90-minute webinar for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs. The webinar was for a group of grantees whose funding is ending on June 30. The topic was sustainability and OPA allowed me to “flex” it a bit to also discuss organizational resilience. There was, at the peak, about 147 people on the webinar which is a respectable number given it is a very specific audience.

I really enjoyed doing the webinar. Truth is, I am pretty comfortable being on camera and, in fact, I probably have just a little bit too much fun when I am. I also seem to talk a lot with my hands and make some pretty weird faces. Bottom line…I really loved doing it.

Winthrop Dijstra-Baum here. “Truth is” Tom is not only a bonehead he is also a wannabe stand up comedic and a lousy one at that. He hasn’t met an audience he didn’t like…as long as they were paying attention to him. Now THAT’s truth be told!

Excuse me just one moment…That’s enough, you hack! I’ve told you before, stay OUT of my blog unless I invite you in! My apologies for that interruption from Winthrop. Sorry for the yelling.

As I was saying, I really loved seeing the names of attendees popping up in the participant list. I was surprised at how many of the names I knew. Even more, I was honored to know that so many of the participants were also colleagues and friends…and they still showed up!

Zoom is great and I marvel at how much better and safer it has gotten in the few short weeks since everyone started using it in mid-March. Still, as good as it is, it isn’t the same as really being in the room with people. We will make it work though because it is the next best option we have.

Before I leave this topic in order to avoid another interruption by Winthrop, I just want to say how proud I am of all the people who have made the transition to video conferencing. Many (perhaps most?) are the same people who, in early March, would have sworn they would NEVER, EVER attend meetings or conduct business via video conferencing. You see what we can do when we try?


In the Current Absence of Baseball…Who’s on First?

Abbot and Costello gave us one of the very best comedy bits we’ll ever see. Enjoy and dream of peanuts and Cracker Jack!

The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 28 Chickenman tests the Chicken Missle. But what is the Chicken Missle? More importantly, what is the Chicken Missle Receiver?


In Reality…

Today Governor Hogan announced we’ll be entering into Phase 1 of re-opening here in Maryland. Everyone, that is, except for people who live in Montgomery and Prince George’s County where the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise.

We live in Prince George’s County. As a county we have more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than 29 states and territories. We have more deaths than approximately 25 states and territories. Doesn’t seem like much curve flattening going on here. So we will continue sheltering-in-place for a while yet. We are now at 59 days and counting. Do I hear 60? 65? How about 70? Gimme 75? No end in site. Lucky you! More drivel to come!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t mess with turkeys (actual or human).

Tom

Day 58 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

He’d select the craziest of the conspiracy theories it parodies and then pass that theory off as fact just for fun. Did I mention he loved to mess with people and pick fights?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 – Live to Blog from Atop a Harley-Davidson

#alongtogether

Is there an unlimited supply of drivel? Apparently not because I’m still delivering it. Occasionally I wonder if I’m running low. Just when I think there is nothing else to write about my mind wanders and – boom! – there it is. So, dear friends, you have no reprieve. Let the drivel flow!


I Was a Biker Baby

I know very little about the family into which I was born. I know my dad was born in 1913 and my mom in 1916. I know little about their their lives prior to their marriage in 1935. I know even less about their lives between 1935 and 1954 when I came along. Apparently we weren’t big on talk story…or stories…or talking.

For me the history of my family begins in 1953 when my oldest sister married Boomer. Boomer is one of the most memorable and influential characters in my life for two reasons. First, he lived a far more interesting and dangerous life than most people I knew in my hometown. Second, he was a father figure to me. From as long as I can remember, I spent as much time, if not more, with him and my sister as I did with my parents. In fact, my oldest sister likes to remind me that she practically raised me and often says she tends to think of me more as her child than as her brother. Seems reasonable. Her daughter, my niece, is barely three years younger than me.

Boomer came roaring into my sister’s life on a motorcycle. He was a biker. Not a biker like you’d see in Born Losers, the movie that introduced the character of Billy Jack in 1969. His time and style was definitely early 1950’s, Marlon Brando, and The Wild One.

Boomer was the wild one in our lives. He even looked a little like Brando, especially in his biker outfit. Boomer was four years younger than Marlon Brando. Both were born and raised in Iowa (Boomer) or near Iowa (Brando). Brando was from Omaha, which would have been in Iowa if weren’t for the Missouri River. Oh, and they were both commonly known by only one name. Actually, “Boomer and Brando” might have made a good name for a pair of tag team wreslters.

After seeing me atop his hallowed bike dressed like this, Boomer made sure I was properly attired. Dog unknown.

I have a vague memory of having my own leather biker jacket, leather hat, and “motorcycle boots” – compliments of Boomer. I don’t remember what happened to the jacket and hat, but, man I loved those boots!

A less vague memory – probably because of the sheer terror of it – is riding the Harley with Boomer and my sister but inside a rear saddle bag. My niece was placed in the one on the other side, probably to make it easier to balance the bike. Boomer really liked to lean low into the corners which gave me a spectacular view of the ashphalt.

Boomer with his #9 dirt track “stock car,” circa 1959. I spent many Saturday nights in the summer with my sister at the dirt tracks in South East Iowa where I grew to love the sounds and smells of dirt track racing.

Even after Boomer got into dirt track racing, he loved and rode motorcylces. Of course, for him, there was only one – Harley-Davidson. He loved to “mess with” people and did it constantly. When Yamaha and Kawasaki motorcycles began to make their way onto American highways he loved to irritate their owners by imitating their bike’s high-pitched “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” sound and laughing derisively at it. He often suggested, to the riders, that such a whiney, pathetic sound was indicative of their manhood. (Oh…did I mention he was also very good at picking fights?)

So, why am I writing about this drivel today? While the sheltering-in-place orders means automobile traffic has gotten less around our home, the motorcyle traffic has picked up, especially as the weather gets warmer. The sound of high pitched motorcycle engines seems to surround us at times. I can’t help but think of Boomer and his “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” everytime I hear one.

If Boomer were still alive, I think he might be a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Even if he really wasn’t one, he’d love reading this Facebook posting I got from my friend Beth Howard today. He’d select the craziest of the conspiracy theories it parodies and then pass that theory off as fact just for fun. Did I mention he loved to mess with people and pick fights?


A Conversation: Leading In Crisis

In late March, as the Novel Coronavius pandemic was triggering a plethora of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, I began to collaborate with a group colleagues. In record time we produced blogs and videos to encourage, support, and, hopefully, guide nonprofit leaders through these difficult times. On Friday, May 8th we met via Zoom to film one of our conversations about leadership in the midst of crisis. That video is now ready and can be viewed below.

There may be some additional collaborative work that emerges. For this moment, though, I just want to say thanks to Forrest Alton and Cayci Banks of 1000 Feathers, Charles Weathers of The Weathers Group, and Patrick Jinks of The Jinks Perspective. Each entered this collaboration with spirits of giving, caring, and conviction that we needed to do all we could to be of service to nonprofits and their leaders right now. If you haven’t already done so, please stop by their websites to learn more about them and how they help nonprofits accomplish the greater good in their communities.

The video below is a conversation among the five of us, facilitated by Forrest Alton. It is about 50 minutes in length but it moves quickly. I hope you enjoy and find it useful. Please feel free to forward it on to others whom you think would benefit from it. You can also find this video, the previous ones, and links to other free resources in the special section, Work in the Time COVID-19, on this website.


The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 27 Chickenman stops a robbery, only to discover he may have also shattered a man’s dream and caused the world the opportunity to have an irving.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep wearing a helmet if you are a biker of any kind.

Tom