Day 60 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Even though she was wearing a mask, I knew there was a lot of lip-pointing going on. She was signalling me to be careful around them and to alert me when they were committing any quarantine faux pas.

Thursday, May 14, 2020 – Live to…WHAT? 60 Days and I’m still doing this? It was only supposed to be 14!

#alonetogether

Sixty days! 60! Six-zero! LX! It was still Winter when we entered into sheltering-in-place and now we are halfway through Spring. In barely a month we’ll be starting Summer. This is bizarre! Truly, truly bizarre!


Don’t Mess with Her!

There are Trump’s lockdown orders. Yeah, right! Only until you get bored or need a Big Mac and, hey, I don’t need a mask!

There are Governor Hogan’s lockdown orders. Pretty serious and, you know what, we will shut you down if you try to mess with them. But, you know, we’re going to loosen them up a bit now so, be good…please. (Yeah, right, Larry. You have a lot more faith in Stupid People than I do.)

And then…there are Clemencia’s lockdown orders. Don’t try it…don’t even think about it…you will live without pizza.

Clemencia scared the bejeezus out of three young men who came to our home today. The first was an HVAC technician who came to do the semi-annual check on our system to make sure it was ready for the Summer. Yeah…the Summer…since we’re going to be in the house all Summer. The HVAC technician told us exactly what we knew he would tell us. Our system was old and needed replacement.

We shocked him by agreeing with him. He shocked us by having the salespeople at our house before we could get that sentence. They must have been parked around the corner.

This is the first time anyone has been in our home since early March and Clemencia was ready for them. We were masked up. They were masked up. She made sure they did not open or close any doors. She made sure they knew we expected them to keep at least six feet away from us. She was ready with a spray bottle of disinfectant for anything they touched.

Even though she was wearing a mask, I knew there was a lot of lip-pointing going on. She was signalling me to be careful around them and to alert me when they were committing any quarantine faux pas.

The first guy crossed her when he failed to keep his mask up over his nose. She had to remind him a couple of time to pull it up. After the second time, all she had to do was lip-point and he’d apologize and pull it it. Such fun to watch! The second two guys crossed her by staying too long. Unfortunately for them, the sales meeting took forever due to a glitch in their credit approval system.

Clemencia’s student knew she is very nice and formidable – something our visitor’s learned today.

Clemencia stepped away from a Spanish class at one point to motion to me…from behind them…to move them along. When “somebody” didn’t quite get what she was motioning about, she finally spoke up and said, “This is taking way too long for people like us who are at high risk.” That scared them, though it didn’t speed things up much because the things prolonging the visit were out of their control. Still, from that point on, they were aware that she could come back through the door at any minute and that would be it.

Three times after that they said something like, “We can take care of all of this later over the phone. We don’t want your wife to have to come back out.” Then, I seized the moment to become sinister and speak in a slow, spooky tone.

“Oh, no, no, no. I insist. Stay. Please. She wants you to stay…really. We don’t want to have to do all of this later over the phone. Oh, no, not at all! Let’s get it done while you still can…I mean, while you are still here. It will be fine…just fine,” then I chortled and smiled my best creepy smile. That seemed to help sharpen their focus on their task.

We finally got the deal done and we actually got a good deal. Let’s just say that in this scenario, I got to be the “good cop,” and Clemencia got to be the “bad cop.” She loved it!

When the two left, they assured her that they already had alerted the installation crew (which will be here at 8:30 AM tomorrow morning) about the house rules. Very wise, very wise, indeed!

We haven’t had so much fun in…oh…about eight weeks! And, they learned a few things about physical distancing, mask wearing, and a behaviors that need to go with staying safe in the time of COVID-19. They even learned not to mess with a woman empowered by the truth of public health. For my part, I may have debunked one or two COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

I sometimes refer to Clemencis as “Ms. CDC” because, for as long as I’ve known her, she has approached infection control and all things public health from a strictly Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard. When she came to the DC area from Arizona it was to work with the Epidemic Intelligence Service. She leapt at that opportunity because she, and many others, saw the CDC as setting the “gold standard” in public health at that time.

That experience profoundly impacted her and it is what informs her insights today regarding COVID-19. So far, she is batting one thousand. She predicted COVID-19 to be bad, and it has been. She pushed and prodded me to buy more beans than I thought we’d ever need in a lifetime and an extra bundle of toilet paper at BJ’s Warehouse in early February. And I’m thankful we did. Her instincts have been spot-on about this thing and I listen very carefully to her counsel. I even do my best to follow it though I’ve not been perfect.

We learned this evening that we have a bit more time to spend in our home. The Prince George’s County Executive announced tonight that we will be sheltering in place at least through June 1 – even though many other parts of the state are opening up…at least just a little.

In addition to monitoring our health and COVID-19 behavior, Clemencia kindly lets me tell some stories about her in this blog. I feel very fortunate to be spending this lockdown with her. If we both make it through this without contracting the virus, it will be because of her.


Lessons from Mom for COVID-19

In my blog on Monday I invited people to send in pieces of wisdom they received from their mom’s in the past which now may prove to be useful during the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who sent me items.

I asked people to also let me know if they were sons or daughters as I wanted to see if Clemencia’s assessment might have been correct – that my list was more likely to be what son’s heard than what daughter’s heard. After reviewing the list of entries I think she might be right. All respondents were daughters. See what you think:

  • Always use the bathroom before leaving home. (Afterall, who knows what germs lurk in public restrooms these days!)
  • Don’t ever cut your bangs by yourself again!
  • Make sure you have clean underwear on.
  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • Respect your elders.
  • Stop talking.
  • Don’t speak unless asked.
  • Be good to yourself, and in turn you can be good for others.

I wasn’t sure about the advice about clean underwear. Then, I remembered the blog I wrote recently about a question that is puzzling the scientific world. You know the one…does flatulence spread COVID-19? If underwear is the hiney’s mask, then, yes, this one does make sense. Again, thanks to everyone who contributed!


The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 29 Chickenman has an unfortunate incident with the Chicken Dissolver in the Chicken Cave.


A Different Side of Chris Mann

I’ve shared several of Chris Mann’s very funny music videos that he has created from his home, all related to COVID-19. This is one that is not funny but very touching. Enjoy and share – especially with someone you know who is on the frontline for us.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep doing everything you can to stay safe. The country may be “re-opening,” but Coronavirus has never stopped working.

Tom

Day 57 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

All this to say, Dr. Swan is not a wacko. Still, flatulence as a carrier for Coronavirus…I don’t know…sounds like some weird idea Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum would come up with.

Monday, May 11, 2020 – Live to Blog in a Well Ventilated Room

#alonetogether

There are so many things we don’t know about COVID-19…yet. Some things we are learning are quite serious. Other things…well, you be the judge.

Does Passing Gas Spread COVID-19?

Catching up on episodes of The Late Show with Stephen Cobert over the weekend I learned of some new scientific research on the spread of COVID-19 which could have serious implications for all of us who love beans. According to Cobert, scientists in Australia have been studying whether the Coronavirus can be spread through flatulence.

I wasn’t sure whether that was an actual thing or if it was part of the comedian’s schtick for the night. Turns out the New York Post reported on April 20th that Dr. Norman Swan said in his podcast that people may pass COVID-19 when they pass gas. When you navigate to the New York Post site in the link above, be sure to watch the brief video so you can hear Dr. Swan make his case personally.

Dr. Swan, it turns out, is nearly the counterpart in Australia to Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN here in the U.S. Gupta is a neurosurgeon in Atlanta who actually does practice medicine, performs surgery, and teaches at Emory University School of Medicine. If you’ve been following Dr. Gupta during the COVID-19 pandemic, his coverage and reporting has been some of the best. He is my “go to” guy on television for information when Drs. Fauci, Birx, and Redfield are nowhere in sight. Dr. Swan is a medical journalist though it does not appear he is currently practicing medicine.

All this to say, Dr. Swan is not a wacko. Still, flatulence as a carrier for COVID-19…I don’t know. Sounds like some weird idea Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum would come up with.

When I am filled with uncertainty I go to the source of all knowledge – Google, not Winthrop, to be clear. I asked Google to search for answers to a question worded exactly like this: “Does passing gas spread coronavirus?” Here’s some of what came up in the search:

USA Today: Fact check: We know about coughs and sneezes. But can coronavirus spread through farts?

Forbes: Can Farts Transmit COVID-19 Coronavirus? Here Is What Is Being Said

The Sun: Load of Guff? Doctor says coronavirus could be spreading through farts – but experts aren’t so sure

The Jarkarta Post: Smelly and dangerous? Scientist, doctors on whether farts transmit COVID-19

I hope you took a few minutes to look through some of those articles. Really, it was an education at so many levels and in so many ways.

So, does passing gas also pass the COVID-19? There was some research conducted and reported in the British Medical Journal back in 2001. It had to do with passing gas into petri dishes, really. I think you’ll have no problem sniffing out the article. Once you open the link above (or the next one) just scroll down the page and keep your eyes open for Hot Air? Ironically, the research presents a compelling case for why wearing a face mask helps prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Because, you see, in the case of flatulence, our pants are also masks. If you know people who really can’t understand the value of wearing a mask, share this article with them…seriously…maybe they’ll get it then.

Of course, these days, whenever we need a lift from the news, we just turn our ears and hearts to the music of “Frozen.” Enjoy!


The Adventures of Chickenman

Rhyme is running crampant in Midland City and the call goes out to the Fearless Foul for help.

In Reality…

We know far less about COVID-19 than we think we do. For months millions, if not billions, of dollars have been invested in learning its origins, how it spreads, and what it does to the human body. While we have learned much, there is still much we do not know.

Yes, we had some fun with the question of whether it COVID-19 can be spread through flatulence. The truth is nobody really knows for sure. Just when we think we have a handle on the virus, we learn something new. So, as ridiculous as it sounds, and as much fun as Cobert and other comedians have had with the topic, the most honest response is to check the box “Unknown” for right now.

In the meantime, there is some really disturbing news about COVID-19 that is being reported. On Sunday The Washington Post reported that doctors continue to discover new ways COVID-19 attacks the body.

Today, there is widespread recognition the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus. Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots, even as they struggle to help patients breathe.

Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, Sunday, May 10, 2020

Despite the occasional therapeutic diversion into the absurb, let us never lose sight of the fact that this is a real disease that is killing many people. On February 29 the first COVID-19 death was reported in the United States. In the 72 days since there have been (up to this very minute) 80,238 more deaths.

That is 8,023 people per week; 1,114 per day; and 46 people per hour. Think about it…people in the U.S. are dying from COVID-19 at a rate nearing 1 per minute. And we still don’t know how and why it is they are dying. We though we knew…it was respiratory. But now…is it circulatory? Or it something else altogether?

This is why I believe we are in this for the long haul. We still know too little. For this reason, it still makes sense to do things that protect ourselves and others: keep physical distance, wash our hands, don’t touch our faces, cough into our elbows, and wear a mask anytime we leave the house. None of that seems so onerous does it if it means we help save lives?


Lessons from Mom Needed

I’ve been getting a few responses to the question I posed yesterday: What lessons have you heard from your mother in the past that are now good lessons for staying safe in a pandemic? You can respond by leaving a comment on this blog below, you can respond to the posting on LinkedIn or Facebook, or you can follow this link to a Mother’s Lessons for Being Safe in a Pandemic (a Google Form) where you can answer the question. Later this week I’ll share (anonymously) what I’m getting from folks.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and, remember, your pants are a mask for your hiney.

Tom

Day 50 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

From this day forward, May 4, 2020 shall forever be known as the day that many people throughout the country were given permission to pee in the community swimming pool that is the United States of America.

Monday, May 4, 2020 – Live to Blog from A Kiddy Pool

#alonetogether

With apologies in advance…I’m going to use a word today you may not prefer and some imagery that you may wish to forget. It is in the interest of the greater good. Frankly, it is far less offensive than many things you’ve heard come from the mouth of the current President of the United States. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Today is National Pee in the Pool Day!

From this day forward, May 4, 2020 shall forever be known as the day that many people throughout the country were given permission to pee in the public swimming pool that is the United States of America.

Okay, not literally…I’m speaking figuratively, of course. I’m talking air, not water and COVID-19, not urine. But the idea is the same. Why May 4? Because this is the date when many states indicated they would start lifting the shelter-in-place orders that have been lessening the spread of COVID-19. Might I highlight again that those orders were working?

Very few of us would climb into a swimming pool knowing all swimmers were free to pee in the water whenever they felt the need. For decades common sense and decency have said you don’t pee in the public swimming pool. However, on this date many states are easing sheltering-in-place orders, thereby giving people permission to “pee in the pool” and put themselves and others at risk of causing COVID-19 to spike again, or resurge, or simply continue to grow at a steady pace. At least in a real swimming pool, all of the water is confined to the structure of the pool. Not so with COVID-19.

There are a dozen states which have not relaxed the shelter-in-place orders. I live in one of those and, frankly, I’m glad I do. We are not done with COVID-19 and it isn’t done with us.

However, Pennsylvania (to our North) partially reopened on May 1 and West Virgina (to our West) started on April 30th. Isn’t that just great? Here we are, in Maryland, doing our best to keep our part of the pool pee free. But, no, Pennsylvania and West Virginia say, “It’s okay…we’ll just pee in this corner.” Really? If I know a bunch of people are peeing in the opposite corner of the pool, I still don’t want to get into that pool. Would you?

I know I brought this up before, but this is really important. Take a look at this report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, COVID-19: The CIDRAP Viewpoint. It’s very readable, very short, and very compelling. The three scenarios it lays out for the future, plus the new case and death estimates released just today, should give us pause. But, nope, we are peeing away in the pool as if we just drank two gallons of tea.

I know the argument about the economy. My family and I are impacted by it too. Life has changed for us and not for the better. I want people to get back to work, too. I want the economy to recover. I want restaurants, movie theaters, stores, malls, golf courses, clubs, bars, music venues, etc. to re-open. Our Congress and Administration has allocated $3 trillion (give or take a couple of billion cause they’re so small and easy to over look) to help people get by during this time.

Unfortunately, in the COVID-19 Great Money Grab, the funds that were intended to keep people employed seem to be missing in action, quite possibly scarffed up to satisfy the “needs” of banks, large corporations, and their stockholders. Here’s the thing: According to the Small Business Administration, there are 30 million small businesses in the United States, comprising 99.9% of all businesses in the country. These small businesses employ (or used to employ) nearly 59 million people, which is 48% of the total workforce. The CARES Act allocated $377 billion to small businesses. Still, there is not much evidence this relief is getting to the small businesses and, more importantly, to the people they employ. It is no wonder people are feeling restless because, in fact, they are feeling ripped off again, they are feeling scared, and, now, they are getting hungry.

We’ve got to fix this and we need to re-open. I got it. But before we do, we need to see fewer Stupid People (people without common sense) out running around and even fewer Ignorant People (people without knowledge or awareness) leading them. Until we do, I fear we are going to be back in this same place in just a matter of weeks.

Fortunately, the Stupid People are becoming more obvious because they are self-identifying. How do we know them? They are the people without masks and who refuse to maintain physical distance. They are everywhere! Including in our neighborhood. I spot one or two Stupid People when I go out for my daily walk. I even know some of them by name. The Ignorant People are a little harder to differentiate from the Stupid People but we still see the fruit of their labor. They are the ones who are organizing and leading the Stupid People in the protests against the shelter-in-place orders.

There is a pretty simple solution to being able to re-open and also be mostly safe most of the time, which may be as good as it gets for a while. We know it because it has worked in other countries where there are, apparently, fewer Stupid and Ignorant People. What is it?

The solution is for everyone to keep physical separation and mask up all the time and everywhere…but it requires all of us to agree to do this and then really follow through like real patriots would do.

I can hear the Stupid and Ignorant whining already, “Why do we all need to mask up?” Let’s talk about pee again.

  • Imagine for a moment that you are standing in a swimsuit, near that pool we’ve been talking about, and a little boy runs over to you, drops his pants, and pees on your bare leg. He has now exposed you to anything that has been lurking in his urine.
  • Now, imagine you are standing by the pool in long pants. That same dang kid runs over, drops his pants, and pees on you again but, now, because of your pants, not as much pee gets on you and it reduces your risk.
  • One more time. This time you are standing by the pool in long pants, the same really irritating kid runs over to you, and pees at you, but this time he forgets to pull down his pants. Ha! Nothing gets on you, it all stays with the kid…who richly deserves it since he is being such a brat.

This is exactly how wearing a mask protects you. Your mask protects others; their mask protects you. That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

So, can we re-open the country and remain safe? Yes, but only if we act like reasonable, responsible people (including the Stupid and the Ignorant among us). It means we must be willing to do three things every day for as long as necessary and everywhere we go:

Clemencia and I are masking up – everyday and everywhere; for ourselves and others. Join us!
  1. Keep a physical distance of at least six feet from every person we don’t already live with (and if we or they are sick, keep away then too). Even when we are in groups…keep at least six feet away from others.
  2. Wear a mask every day and everywhere, even if it makes us look goofy or less cool than we want others to think we are.
  3. Religiously, even fanatically, wash our hands and sanitize them when we can’t wash.

Honestly, is this too much to ask? If we really want to re-open the country, if we really want to stay healthy, if we really don’t want to make our loved ones sick, if we really want to be patriots, then we do what science says is necessary now and we keep doing it for our country until everyone is safe, even if we don’t like it and it is inconvenient. So, is it too much to ask? You know our answer.


The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 19

Chickenman (aka Benton Harbor, shoe salesperson during the week and Feathered Fighter on the weekend) is being joined in the fight against crime in Midland City by the Masked Maternal Marauder (aka Mildred Harbor, his mother.)


A Grizzled Old Man in Jeff Logan’s Video Conferences

Jeff explains himself: During this time of social distancing I have relied on web conferencing for classes, meetings, and social gatherings. At least three times a meeting I am frustrated by the grizzled old man that constantly interrupts when I click to speak… only to realize that it’s me!!! I guess I don’t often have to look at myself talking.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t pee in the public swimming pool!

Tom

Day 32 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

What is to be done when everyone in your world decides they need to “help” you see the light? Who knew the people you care so much about could be so dang irritating!

Thursday, April 16, 2020 – Live to Blog from Delirium


The Confrontation

#alonetogether

I was working peacefully in my office early this morning when I heard someone make one of those sounds you know is supposed to get your attention even though they try to make it sound like they aren’t trying to get you attention. It usually sounds like a little cough or a fake clearing of the throat. Writers typically portray it as “Ahem!”

So I turned around and they were standing in doorway to my office: Bert (Left), Ernie (Right), Beto, Enrique, and Matt Damon. Bert, always the mouthy one, started it off:

  • Bert (ever so rudely): Hey, bonehead, we need to talk.
  • Me: What? Who needs to talk?
  • Ernie: We do…all of us!
  • Beto and Enrique (together): Si! Nosotros nececitamos hablar!
  • Matt Damon: Definitely! What they said!
  • Me (puzzled): Why? What’s going on? (Then to Matt Damon) And, what are you doing here, Matt Damon?
  • Matt Damon: I’m not Matt Damon. I’m Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum. I only look like Matt Damon because you think you look like Matt Damon.

Okay, as an aside, Matt Damon did have a point. I sometimes introduce myself as Matt Damon because Matt Damon played a character in The Informant who was a dead ringer for me in the 1980’s, which was also the time period of the movie. See for yourself.

Not wanting to make too much of the similarity, I have carefully clarified to people, when they seem a bit taken back by my introduction as Matt Damon, that I can pass myself off as Matt Damon now because, when he is my current age (almost 66), he will look like me anyway. Seems logical, right?

Is it Tom or Matt? Ha! Gottcha! Was I right?
  • Me: Well, I do look like you, Matt, not right now…but when you are older…but, WAIT, what? You said you’re Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum? Why do you look like Matt Damon?
  • Matt/Winthrop: First, because I’m a handsome investigative news reporter. Second, because this is how you imagine me.
  • Me: Okay, that makes sense. Now, what’s this all about?
  • Ernie: Look, bonehead, we’re all getting fed up with how you are treating us.
  • Bert: Yeah, bonehead, we’re fed up. We don’t like it!
  • Me: What do you mean? What don’t you like?
  • Bert: What about us? Here we are hanging out with you and we don’t have any PPE. You’re an old coot. How do we know you aren’t infecting us?
  • Enrique: Si, bonehead! Lo que da?
  • Matt/Winthrop: What he said! We are essential employees and we deserve the PPE!
  • Me: First of all, you are not employees. You are volunteers.
  • Bert: What! We are not, bonehead! You think we are, but wait till you hear from our lawyers…and our union!
  • Me: You have a union?!? Oh, come on! You do not!
  • Beto: Si! Tenemos!
  • Ernie: Look, bucko bonehead, you are messing with the wrong people here!
  • Me: You know, this is ridiculous and you are ridiculous…well, maybe not Matt Damon…but the rest of you are. I’m going to get Clemencia to get you out of my office. (Calling out.) Clemencia! Clemencia! Clemencia!

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my left side.

  • Me: Ow! What’s that for? What are you doing?
  • Clemencia: Tom, wake up! Roll over. You’re yelling in your sleep…and snoring.
  • Me: Well, I’m sorry about that but, geez, that hurt. I was just having a nightmare and I needed your help.
  • Clemencia (softly and sympathetically): Mi cielo, lo siento. I’m so sorry. What was your nightmare about?

So I told her everything, except that Bert and Ernie were unwashed socks. I also didn’t mention that Winthrop was a dead ringer for Matt Damon and me (in the 1980s). She listened patiently and quietly to my story. Looking lovingly into my eyes she said, “Que gueva!” and then rolled over and went back to sleep.

The alarm was going to go off in 10 minutes anyway, so I got up. Besides, I didn’t want to have to deal with those gueva and their union reps.


The Adventures of Chickman

We need a hero today and I can’t think of anyone better than Chickenman – who was a radio superhero to me as a teenager. Chickenman had the super powers of distraction. He was born in the midst of the Vietnam War and was featured on stations across the country and in Vietnam on Armed Forces Radio. Chickenman always made me laugh, or at least smile. Today we need more smiles and less stupidity…unless it is intentional stupidity (like Chickenman) and it makes us smile.

Chickenman is Benton Harbor, mild mannered shoe salesman in a downtown Midland City. Please enjoy Episode 1, the 1 minute 33 second origin story of Chickenman and how he got his unique look and name.


Gotta Dance!

Here’s a video of a New Orleans performer I got to see live in the Fall before Katrina took it’s toll on the city. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots. (Sunpie is the guy on the accordion.) I was attending a conference in the city and my friend (and CDC Project Officer) Kim Nolte was there. She had, if I remember the story correctly, been in college with Sunpie. She learned that his band was playing not far from the conference hotel. She convinced me and few other folks to go with her to see him perform and try some zydeco dancing. It was much fun and I fell in love with Sunpie’s music. It’s hard to keep your feet from moving when you hear this…as the little guy in the yellow shirt learned! Enjoy because sometimes we just gotta dance!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep smiling and dancing…even when you don’t feel like it!

Tom

Day 25 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Thursday, April 9, 2020 – Live to Blog from An Imagination Vacation

For those of you wearing masks (which should be everyone), please do NOT remove your mask to scratch your nose. You don’t pull down your pants to scratch your butt, do you?


Who’ll Take the Dogs Out?

Our day began with a little bit of controversy. Our alarm goes off at 6:00 AM and I’m usually the first up. I shower, get dressed, and take the Girls out for their first walk of the day. This is how the daily routine has begun for many years. (Except for the wake up time…before Clemencia retired we were up daily between 5:00 and 5:30 AM. Now we get to sleep in!)

Today, though, something wasn’t quite right. When the Girls and I got back, I gave them their “cookie” (doggy treat) and settled in to work for a few minutes before having breakfast. About 8:00 AM I met up Clemencia in the kitchen. I noticed she was more quiet than usual. This is usually not a good a sign and it wasn’t one today.

  • Me: Good morning, me amor! You seem awfully quiet this morning.
  • Clemencia: Really?
  • Me: Yes. Is everything okay?
  • Clemencia: Well, it’s the Girls.
  • Me: The Girls? They seem fine to me…I mean, they are old, but they enjoyed their walk and they did everything they needed to do.
  • Clemencia: Yes, but that’s not what I mean.
  • Me: Oh? What is it then?
  • Clemencia: Why did you take them out?
  • Me: Why? Because I take them out in the morning. I’ve done for years except when I’m traveling.
  • Clemencia: That’s not what we agreed to.
  • Me: What? When?
  • Clemencia: Yesterday.
  • Me: Yes, but that was for yesterday. Today is today so I’m back on morning walk duty.
  • Clemencia: No, that’s not what we agreed to.
  • Me (royally confused): I really don’t understand.
  • Clemencia: We talked about it long before yesterday. I’m supposed to take the Girls out in the morning.
  • Me: Okay…but you did…yesterday…I can’t see the problem here.
  • Clemencia (pulling out her phone): Here, in my calendar, we talked about it back in March, around my birthday. I’m supposed to take the dogs out so you can go right to work.
  • Me: That’s in your phone? In your calendar?
  • Clemencia: Yes. Everything is in my calendar.
  • Me (a bit worried): EVERYTHING?
  • Clemencia: Yes, everything.
  • Me: But doesn’t your calendar show that was a one-time thing? Just for that one day? I thought THAT is what we were talking about…to help me out that one day.
  • Clemencia: No. My calendar says we changed the routine back on March 26h. I’m supposed to take the Girls out in the morning now. You can come with us, of course, but I’m responsible.
  • Me (realizing I can’t argue with her Google calendar): Lo siento, mi amor. I’m sorry. I had misunderstood. I will no longer take the Girls out in the morning. Instead, I’ll go straight to work. I took them out this morning because it was raining and I didn’t want you to get caught in the thunderstorm that was predicted.
  • Clemencia: Thank you, mi amor…but it is my job.
  • Me: I sincerely apologize for keeping you dry this morning. I understand now that the routine has changed.
  • Clemencia: I appreciate that, mi cielo. Now, I found this other thing in my calendar I want to discuss with you…

That seemed like a good time to turn on the coffee grinder and turn up NPR.


Interview with Forrest Alton by Patrick Jinks

Last week I posted that I had worked with several other consultants to produce a blog and paper title Leading in Crisis. One of those consultants, Patrick Jinks, has a YouTube channel through which he offers brief videos for nonprofit leaders. He is interviewing each of the other consultants who worked on the blog and paper together. This week he is featuring a really terrfic interview with Forrest Alton of 1000 Feathers on the importance of mission alignment even during a sudden disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a few minutes to watch the video and then share it with a nonprofit leader who might benefit from it at this time. Over the next three weeks Patrick will also be featuring interviews with Cayci Banks of 1000 Feathers, Charles Weathers of the Weathers Group, and me…if I’m not out walking the Girls. Stay tuned!


In Reality…Good Advice on COVID-19 from Twitter

Caitlin Rivers, PhD is a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She is an epidemiologist and formerly with the U.S. Army Public Health Command. She specializes in health security. That’s an important point.

Recently she had a series of tweets about what comes next in the COVID-19 pandemic and what to expect. In between the lines there is an important message about why we should not get our hopes up too quickly about returning to normal life soon. They are worth reading and sharing. There are eight tweets in this series and each are short and easy to read.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep wearing you mask…but don’t take it off to scratch your nose, please.

Tom

Day 24 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 – Live to Blog with a Sad Smile

I got hit in the mouth today. It was an accident but it still smarted. No, I wasn’t “lipping off” to anyone. I was just walking the dogs. To be clear, there was no permanent damage and I won’t need plastic surgery to correct anything.

Clemencia’s Face Masks

Clemencia started making face masks for us, family, and friends to wear outside the house. Yes, they are being made to comply with CDC guidance. (Really, knowing what you know about her, did you really need to ask?) However, after making several masks, she ran out of elastic to create the loops that go around the ears to hold it in place.

First, she tried to buy the elastic online from fabric stores and Amazon. It was either sold out or on back order and could not be delivered until late May or June. (I’m wondering…have the same people who bought up all the toilet paper also bought up all the elastic? If so, what are they doing with it? Do they know a handicraft that none of the rest of us know?)

When she couldn’t buy it, she reached out to her Spanish classes – all 55 students in 6 classes, plus one group that meets just to play “Battleship” in Spanish on Wednesdays. (No, I don’t know what that’s about.) As a result, she has been getting as much elastic as she can use. It is a wonderfully generous thing for her students to do. It is the delivery system that needs some improvement. And that brings me to my fat lip.

One of Clemencia’s Spanish students called today to let her know she had elastic for her. It turns out the student is a neighbor who lives in the building behind ours. Since we were just about to walk the Girls, Clemencia and the student agreed we would pick up the elastic while maintaining social distancing. The plan was for us to stand under the student’s third floor deck and she would toss the packet of elastic to us. I saw this as an opportunity relive my Little League glory days in left field.

I moved under the deck and told her to let it fly. She did and the package fell like a rock, hitting me squarely in the face mask. However, thinking quickly, I threw myself to the ground like a Premier League soccer player tripping over his own shoe lace, clutched the top of my head, and wailed away. (Why the top of my head? I knew I couldn’t touch my face over my face mask or I would set off another flurry of Lip Pointing by Clemencia.) I carried on like that for about 30 seconds to make a point. Finally, I looked up to see the horrified student. I looked over at Clemencia who was shaking her head and said to me, “I asked her to just throw it in the grass. Que gueva. Mucha gueva!” So I got up, dusted myself off, and assured the neighbor, “I’m just fine, really.” And I was. But it was a brief bit of fun plus it is always nice to make a good impression on neighbors you just met.


Speaking of Lip Pointing…I’ve been “asked” by Clemencia to call out her extraordinary public health contribution yesterday. Apparently the folks at Aldi noticed her eyes bulging and lips twitching throughout our visit. Today the grocery chain announced new, safer COVID-19 policies for customers in their stores. And, yes, mi amor, I know, they are the same things you really wanted to “suggest” to the manager before we left the store on Tuesday. As of this morning, at Aldi, there can be only 1 person per 1,000 square feet in the store; customers will be let in only 1 at a time; only 1 person per family can do the shopping; Aldi personnel will be at the front door to space people as they come into the store; carts will be wiped down by Aldi staff between customers; all shoppers have to move the same direction through the aisles, and, finally, anyone seen wildly using the Colombian Lip Point will be asked to leave the store immediately as it scares both customers and Aldi staff.


Michelle Shockness, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, sent me a link to a very fun and funny music video. Watch it closely and listen carefully to the words. It’s very clever and sometimes a bit too true. (By the way, did you participate in Michelle’s research? It’s not too late!) Thanks, Michelle, and good luck on the dissertation!


In reality, this has been a sad day.

I follow the numbers on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus COVID-19 Dashboard. They are depressing. I know they are going to become only more depressing over the next few days. However, a couple of significant, sad benchmarks were reached today.

Globally, the number of confirmed cases went over 1.5 million. In the U.S. the number confirmed is now approaching half a million. This means that nearly a third of all confirmed cases of Coronavirus are now in the United States? But here is the number that really got to me: 14,529. That is the number of deaths in the United States when I sat down to write this blog. At this point, it puts the U.S.A. at #3 on the list of most deaths by country, behind only Spain and the current leader, Italy. However, it is only a matter of hours or days before the number of deaths in the United States will put us in the #1 position.

Here’s what is really sad and shocking about this number. Do you remember 2009 when a Novel Influenza A was found to have originated in the United States? I know, we might not have paid much attention because we were in the middle of an economic meltdown already. That H1N1 virus spread globally, too. The CDC has estimated that 151,000 to 575,000 people worldwide died of that virus. In the United States, 12,469 people died even though nearly 61 million were infected with it.

But, today, we now have 14,529 deaths out of 424,945 confirmed cases. I know, because of the asymptomatic nature of the Coronavirus and the –still – very limited access to testing, we don’t know for sure how many people actually have the virus. It could be far more than this, and it probably is.

The death count is more accurate but not by much. For example, we don’t know how many people died before our government actually took this virus seriously and started testing for it and tracking it. We don’t know how many people have died at home from COVID-19 but the cause of death will not be listed correctly because, again, not enough testing is available to confirm Coronavirus. These are the best figures we have for the moment and they are still scary.

Let’s assume for a moment they are accurate. How does the death rate for COVID-19 in the United States compare with the country’s death rate from H1N1? Not good. See for yourself.

In 2009 the death rate for the H1N1 is estimated, by CDC, to have been 4.06 per 100,000 people in the population of the U.S. at that time. Today the death rate for Coronavirus rose to 4.36 per 100,000 of our current estimated population, using a simple, common epidemiological calculation. Again, these are very preliminary numbers to be sure. However, the point remains: this is bad. Very, very bad.

Think about it like this…in 2009 nearly 61 million people in the U.S. contracted the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) and 12,469 died. Today’s confirmed cases of 424,945 is only 7 one thousands of a percent (that’s .007) of that 61 million confirmed cases in 2009. Still, of those 424,945 there have been 14,592 deaths. Do you see yet why this is so shocking? Why it is still bad? Why we still need to be concerned…despite crazy talk of re-opening the country now? To think that way is so premature.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep pushing the pundits, politicians, and pinheads to shut up, stand up, stay focused, stop fighting each other, and take action on facts…not myth, not voodoo, not conspiracy theory, not their personal stock portfolios, and definitely not the advice of Stupid People who happen to be their friends.

Tom

Day 23 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

For the first time in nearly a month we ventured out of our home together to do shopping and to take the Girls to the vet. It was an absolutely okay experience.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 – Live to Blog from A Hyper Blue Subaru

I owe you an apology. In yesterday’s blog I made a horrendously bad joke. I don’t know what came over me. I finished capturing the dialogue with Bert (Left) and Ernie (Right) and suddenly there it was. It just appeared and I couldn’t resist myself. It was a lousy, good-for-nothing, groaner joke…worse than a Dad Joke. Plus, Bert and Ernie were quite offended that I didn’t believe they could actually be support socks. So, to Bert and Ernie and to you, I sincerely, humbly apologize for such a lousy joke. And if that isn’t good enough, consider this apology:


Before I forget, a good friend from Toronto, Michelle Shockness, is working on her PhD in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University, the same program in which I earned mine. In fact, she is doing research for her dissertation on the relationship between values and commitment to one’s organization. She needs people who work in nonprofit organizations to complete her survey. At this moment, because of the chaos around COVID-19, she is having a tough time getting responses. If you work for a nonprofit organization and could spare a few minutes today, please help her out. The survey takes only 10 to 13 minutes to complete. If you click here you will be taken to Michelle’s survey. Thanks!


Tom and Clemencia Get Out of the House

For the first time in nearly a month we ventured out of our home together to do shopping and to take the Girls to the vet. It was an absolutely okay experience.

Our first outing, which took less than two hours, included three stops. First, we went to Walgreen’s for drugs and a handheld mirror so I can try to give myself a haircut. (I’ll let you know how that goes.) Then we stopped at Aldi and Shoppers for groceries.

I know I’ve mentioned before that Clemencia is an epidemiologist who spent years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Part of her early years with CDC was in the Epidemic Intelligence Service. During the Coronavirus pandemic it has been wonderful to have a personal epidemiologist.

  • She has been tracking the Coronavirus since the first hint of it in early January.
  • She predicted with incredible accuracy how all of this would unfold over time.
  • She put us three to four weeks ahead of everyone else in getting ready to ride out this storm.

In late January and early February, when we were shopping at BJ’s Warehouse, I thought it was a little unusual that she would buy extra cans of beans and rice when we already had a lots of extra at home. Then, she insisted on a package of 36 rolls of toilet paper. I remember protesting, “Mi amor…we have shelf full black, pinto, red, and garbanzo beans in the garage. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many beans in one home in my life. Plus, we have a back-up package of toilet paper too.” But no, she persisted, and of course, I knew I couldn’t win. To her credit, she has never said, “I told you so,” now that we are in the midst of the pandemic storm, which is getting worse everyday here in Maryland. No doubt…having Clemencia as my personal epidemiologist is a wonderful thing in times like these.

The weirdest but most practical of Colombian gestures…the Lip Point. (Mantarayatravel)

Until I have to go shopping with my epidemiologist in the middle of a pandemic. I thought Clemencia’s eyes were going to pop out and her lips were going to fall off. Let me explain. A few blogs back I mentioned that Colombian’s have some really unusual gestures they will use to communicate. One of them is to point with their lips and bug their eyes out. See the tutorial I’ve included here.

The minute we got out of our car (in CDC approved homemade face masks, of course) and encountered the first human being we’ve seen in weeks, her eyes started bugging and lips started twitching wildly.Yes, she was wearing a mask, so you can imagine how wildly her lips were moving if I could still see it. At first I thought she was overcome with excitement to see anyone other than me. But when it didn’t stop, I worried she might be having a medical moment.

The entire time we were in Walgreen’s the twitching and bugging continued. But when we got to the check out, I began to realize what was really going on. Clemencia was using the famous Colombian Lip Point to get me to see all the epidemiological violations taking place all around us. Her Epi Cop was on duty and working double shifts! The Walgreen’s check out clerk had on a single-use disposable mask…pulled below her nose and upside down. Clemencia could contain herself no more.

  • Clemencia (from at least six feet away and pulling me backwards toward her): Your mask needs to cover your nose.
  • Clerk (cheerfully tugging it up): Oh, I forget about it and I don’t like it much anyway.
  • Clemencia (unfazed by the clerk’s perkiness): Doesn’t it have a light metal strip at the top so you can shape it to your nose? That will help keep it in place.
  • Clerk (still perky and checking her mask): I don’t know. I never noticed. (Then exlaiming) Oh, look, it’s upside down! Thanks!
  • Clemencia (speechless her lips and eyes kept “talking”):…

She was not speechless when we got back in the car though. “Did you see that? Six feet! Nobody was six feet apart! What would they do if they told us 27 feet, which is more accurate anyway? The clerk didn’t wear her mask properly. She didn’t even know how to use it! When she opened the door for us, she didn’t get out the way even six inches, let alone six feet! I really don’t like this…this is the worst experience of my life! And so it went at Aldi: more lip pointing, eye bugging, and chatter about this being the worst experience of her life. And so it went at Shoppers, too.

Finishing Our Epidemiological Terror Tour of Shoppers

Clemencia’s CDC and epidemiological training has given her this highly tuned 6th sense when it comes to disease prevention and infection. At home it can be slightly annoying on occasion but, in public, it can be highly annoying. She doesn’t cite CDC standards and practices to people, exactly, but she is not shy about offering her opinion. As quirks go, though, it is still more lovable than annoying.

Except today. As we pulled into the driveway at home, I turned to Clemencia and said: “Mi amor, I would feel less stressd and safer overall if I did the shopping alone during the remainder of the sheltering-in-place orders.” Through her mask I could hear her say, “Good!” and something else, but I couldn’t quite make it out, but it sounded a little like another Colombian expression we studied earlier in this blog series, “Que gueva!”

Our second outing of the day came just before noon. We had to take the Girls to the vet for their vaccinations. Did you know that veterinary clinics are considered essential businesses? I didn’t know it, but Clemencia did. I guess it makes sense.

Madison and Dolly patiently waiting to be patients at the vet clinic. Not much expression…yet.

We had a very nice trip to the see the vet. We pulled up out front, called the front desk, and then two vet techs came out to retrieve the Girls from their secure places in the backseat. (Thankfully, the techs were in gowns and masks or there would have been a flurry of lips and eyeballs again.) A few minutes later one of the vet techs returned and said, “The doctor wanted me to tell you that Dolly and Madison’s anal glands need to be expressed. Would you like him to do that now?” Acting like we knew what that was about, we said, “Absolutely!” and as far we knew, they were expressed.

While we were waiting on the Girls to come back to us with their vaccinations completed and glands expressed, I couldn’t help but think about the term “anal gland expression.” What a fascinating term! I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant so I looked it up.

There are somethings it is better not to know. You’ve got to love the second sentence though: “You could do this for your dog at home…” I assume this means “could” as in “it is possible for you to do this for your dog at home.” Indeed it is. But is it “probable?” Nope. No. Uh-uh. Ain’t gonna happen. I love Dolly and Madison but…no.


Kudos to Carla!

Carla White and Lady Liberty

Our friend Carla White (who also used to work for the CDC) has one of the neatest COVID-19 masks we’ve seen. Take a close look. It has the Statue of Liberty on it. Carla was referenced in an earlier blog as well. She has a business, Serenity Communications, doing graphic design, editing, photography, and other wonderfully creative thing for people and organizations who aren’t so graphically creative. She is a native of New York City but lives now in Maine with her husband Ned…who has beaten me badly in every game of pool we’ve ever played. Not that it still matters.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep doing all those things to be safe that you know Clemencia would remind you about if she were your personal epidemiologist.

Tom

Day 22 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Monday, April 6, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under a Funk

Somedays you feel so low you only want to talk to your socks. Fortunately, Bert (left) and Ernie (right) were up for a conversation. Truthfully, though, they really do mumble and I cannot understand a word they say. So, I’m recreating our conversation based on my best guess at what they said.

  • Me: Hey, guys, can we talk for a bit?
  • Ernie: Sure! What’s going on?
  • Me: I dunno. Life is kind of sucky right now.
  • Bert: Well, speaking of sucky, have your ever spent a day wrapped around your foot?
  • Me: No, seriously, Bert. I mean it…
  • Bert: I mean it too, doofus. It ain’t a pleasure…
  • Me: Yeah, yeah. I get it…but you said we could talk…
  • Bert: That was Ernie who agreed, not me!
  • Me: Okay, fine. But would you mind being quiet while I talk to Ernie for a bit then?
  • Bert: Fine! I know when I’m not wanted…I’ll just wait here on your stinkin’ foot!
  • Me: Bert, look…
  • Ernie: Forget about him, Tom. Let’s talk.
  • Me: Thanks, Ernie. Look, this COVID-19 thing is so hard. I feel overwhelmed by it and I’m really nervous about it. Some days I just don’t want to get out of bed and, when I do, I have a hard time focusing on what I need to do.
  • Ernie: So, stay in bed then! It won’t bother me. I’ve got a great little place out on the deck, you know. The extra morning sunshine would do me good..I could work on my tan, man.
  • Me: I can’t do that, Ernie. I really do have work to do. I still have clients that depend on me. I’m trying to do some things to help others that are feeling even more overwhelmed than me. Today, especially, I had a hard time getting going.
  • Ernie: Why’s that? What happened?
  • Me: Well, you know, I’ve been watching the number of confirmed cases and deaths grow here in the U.S., and especially New York City, because our daughter lives there. Today, the number of deaths in the country went over 10,000. I know…it’s just a number but, jeez, that’s getting to be a big number and it was all so unnecessary! When’s it going to stop, Ernie?
  • Ernie: I have no idea, Tom, but I do know one thing for sure.
  • Me: What’s that, Ernie?
  • Ernie: You’re gonna drive me nuts with your whining! Come on! Suck it up and get to work! You can whine or you can do something. I’ve got an idea: DO SOMETHING and stop bothering me and Bert with this. It’s bad enough you haven’t washed us in over three weeks.
  • Bert (chiming in too gleefully): That’s right, Ernie! You tell him! Sock it to him!

Well, I guess that only goes to prove Bert and Ernie are NOT support socks! (Pa dum tss!)


In other news of the day, I’m going to link you to three things I think you will find highly entertaining, painfully inspiring, and a fascinating read…in that order.


Salut Salon

This is a German quartet of classically trained musicians who also do a form of “musical comedy” – no German language skills necessary. This piece is entitled “Competitive Foursome”

Notes from a Working Mom

Cayci Banks is Vice President of Strategy and Communications at 1000 Feathers, one of the organizations I partner with on projects. More importantly to me, she also my friend and colleague. Today Cayci published a blog on the 1000 Feathers website that is worth reading, especially if you are a parent…even more if you are a mom…who is trying to work from home, keep your kids from being bored, home school them, and yourself and everyone else in your household from giving into the anxiety of COVID-19. Her blog, Let’s Get Real: One Working Mom’s Prespective, touched me and also made me think of others I know who, like Cayci, are trying to do the impossible in this moment. Read it and pass it on, please, to someone you know who needs it.


Jon Katz on the COVID-19 Reality TV Shows of Trump and the Cuomo Brothers

Jon Katz is a blogger, former journalist, TV critic, and television producer. He has been watching the daily Coronavirus Task Force Briefings from the White House and the daily briefings from the New York State Governor’s Office. The first is starring Donald Trump and the latter is starring Andrew Cuomo. Katz offers a fascinating analysis of the two briefings. His perspective is not political as much as it is professional, watching the two “shows” through a television producer’s lens. The analysis, featured in his blog titled The Cuomo Brothers Versus the President: What a Show! is a compelling read. Be sure to reserve a few minutes of your day for it.


Earlier today I was describing my blog as one part humor, one part personal, one part truthful, and one part rant. Today you get to decide which is which.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing our mask, and keep away from stupid people without masks, including me if I forget mine at home.

Tom

Day 18 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I’m also grateful to have retained my presence of mind to avoid playing with filters or special visual effects while on Zoom today.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under a Computer Screen

Remember to stay connected even if you are alone. #alonetogether

I’m Zoomed out today. For a full seven hours I facilitated or participated in Zoom meetings today. Don’t get me wrong…I’m grateful for the work and to be busy. Sitting in my chair and staring at a screen for 7 hours, only to dash to the bathroom or to the kitchen during breaks is a bit tedious. Still, I’m grateful. However, Bert (left) and Ernie (right) were complaining. They didn’t get a walk today. Between you and me, they can be a little self-centered and demanding.

Lizet Ocampo during an unfortunate Zoom accident.

I’m also grateful to have retained my presence of mind to avoid playing with filters or special visual effects while on Zoom today. I might have become a potato head like Lizet Ocampo. I’m also grateful that my work computer is a desk top model so I can’t take it into the bathroom with me. (This really happened but I’m not going to post the link from YouTube because I’m not sure the young person who carried their lap top into the bathroom during a Zoom meeting has had the same sense of humor about it as did Ms. Ocampo.)

BYON Coffee Break/Happy Hour: We had our third gathering today and we will be continuing to meet on Thursdays at 5:00 PM Eastern for the near future. If you’d like to join up next week, send me an email at twklaus@tenaciouschange.us. When I receive your email I’ll send you the Zoom link and our conversation starter.

In Reality. We’re #1! We’re #1 Nothing like putting America first! Globally we hit a milestone today. We now have over 1 million confirmed cases AND the USA is solidly #1 in the world for the number of confirmed cases. Let’s hear it again: “We’re #1! USA! We’re #1! USA!” Come on, I can’t hear you…where’s you pride now? (With tongue firmly in cheek.)

I know there are folks who are having a hard time wrapping their heads (potato or not) around this pandemic. Some minimize it, choosing to believe instead that it is no more serious than the flu. Some have chosen to believe in one of the weird conspiracy theories that are out there. Some think it is a hoax because they don’t personally know anyone who has COVID-19 and don’t know anyone who has died.

To all these, I say, just give it time. The proof you need is coming…sooner than you know.

I’m happy to say that I don’t personally know anyone who has died. However, I know several people who have friends, colleagues, or loved ones who have COVID-19. It has come close to us as a family but, fortunately, all of us have been spared so far. However, we know that may not always be the case. We are preparing for the possibility of infection but we are doing everything we know how to avoid infection. I hope you are doing the same thing.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing you hands, and keep doing everything you can to avoid infection.

Tom

Visit Masks4All and Learn Why You Should Wear One

Day 17 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Okay, so yesterday I had a little bit of fun with underwear masks. I hope you did as well…but, really, I hope you didn’t try it. What…you did?!?! Ewwww!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 – Live to Blog Under a Mask

#alonetogether

Okay, so yesterday I had a little bit of fun with underwear masks. I hope you did as well…but, really, I hope you didn’t try it.

What…you did?!?! Ewwww!

In Reality: Today Clemencia and I made the decision to start wearing masks when we go anywhere outside the house.

Oops! I got the name wrong…it is Masks4All. Link to the video here.

What made the difference? This video – Coronavirus Masks 4 All. It will only take about 3 minutes out of your life but it could save your life or the life of another. I’m sure you know the reasons for NOT wearing a mask:

  • You might look stupid, goofy, or weird (well, all of these are true of some of us anyway without a mask)
  • Because you look stupid, goofy, or weird people might laugh at you
  • People might think you have COVID-19 already and will run away from you (that’s okay…remember, social distancing!)
  • You can’t find a mask that matches your eye color
  • You could be mistaken for a robber, mugger, or politician
  • You could be mistaken for the Lone Ranger or a super hero (neither is likely in my case)
  • Hey, if it’s not an N95 mask it doesn’t do any good anyway!

Well, those are “important” reasons to be sure. However, there are a few that are genuinely compelling and, in addition, more rational.

  • The Novel Coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly and it is becoming even more widespread daily. Growing as it has, it is increasingly likely that we will not avoid exposure and could, at least, become a carrier of the virus.
  • It isn’t only about you. Yes, an N95 mask and medical grade masks may protect you pretty well but we have a shortage of those. They need to be saved for medical workers, first responders, and other essential personnel. Wearing a mask – even a homemade cloth mask – will reduce the possibility that you can infect others, if you happen to be a carrier without symptoms. (Yes, there are asymptomatic carriers of the virus…and you may be one!).
  • It’s also about them! Now, imagine this, if you can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others as an asymptomatic carrier, then, if everyone else starts wearing a mask, your risk will be reduced as well. Remember, you cannot know when you are near a person who is an asymptomatic carrier and they cannot know if you are an asymptomatic carrier.
  • But wait, there’s more! If you are wearing a mask along with everyone else, then we are protecting each other and when we protect each other, we protect our selves.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s thinking on mask wearing is changing. Check out this article. From the CDC to the Surgeon General to Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, the conventional wisdom on wearing masks is changing.
  • There is growing evidence that even homemade masks are more protective that we thought. Again, watch this video that illustrates how, when we are all wearing masks, we can protect ourselves and one another.

This is how one of my clients and colleagues assessed the state of things today in an email to me…

“The bottom has fallen out of hell…”

‘Nuf said.

Sock Offensive update: Bert (left) and Ernie (right) came out from under the bed when they realized I wasn’t going to make them into masks. They are back home again…on my feet…doing what they do best…though I’m not quite sure what that is. Beto and Enrique, on the other hand, are still cowering under the bed. I’m not sure why Clemencia has named her socks but she still seems to think Bert and Ernie are regularly washed. I’ve gotten them to tone down the mumbling on the deck at night. So far, so good, though they do increasingly seem to have a mind of their own.

Quarantine Humor, as seen in Facebook today:

BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour TOMORROW at 5:00 PM. To join, follow the instructions below.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands, and start wearing a mask!

Tom