Follow the Leader?!?

A few weeks ago I did a video interview with my long time friend Lamar Roth. The video told the story of how Lamar and his company navigated the tragedy of a workplace shooting and has been applying the lessons learned from that to the disruption caused by the current pandemic. Since posting it, along with a couple of short vignettes of key sections, I’ve had over 200 views on the Tenacious Change LLC YouTube channel. I know, that’s not a huge amount but it is about four times more than I had hoped.

It has inspired me to do additional video interviews. I’m in the process of lining them up now and actually do them in late Summer and early Fall. I’ve got three more that I plan to do this year. One is an interview with a young man from Baltimore who works in love, justice, and education. I’m anxious to talk with him about a concept he is defining and writing about as “the work of love.” Another is on community change in the time of the pandemic featuring a colleague from Canada with whom I’ve done considerable work over the past few years. Finally, for now, I’m lining up an interview with a woman who studies “toxic followership.” In her research she interviewed survivors of the Jonestown massacre in an effort to understand more clearly the dynamics of the leader/follower relationship which led to over 900 people taking their own lives.

This week, as I was focusing on all things media related in my work, I discovered that my podcast hosting platform had been inadvertently redirecting people who were trying to find it to a different podcast. Ugh! Hopefully I’ll have that sorted by next week as I’d like to also dive back into podcasting. I have some really good interviews on hand that I need to edit, produce, and upload before I do anymore.

All of this to say…stay tuned.


what if we shouldn’t follow the leader?

Speaking of “toxic followership,” at some point we’ve really got to talk about why it is that people find themselves stuck on following inadequate, inept, and inconceivably bad leaders. (Pretty good alliteration, huh?) You are probably rushing ahead to imagine I’m thinking about Trump here…and I am…but the phenomenon is not unique to Trump. We have seen it time and again: on sports teams; in clubs; in families; in faith communities; in organizations, agencies, and governments; in towns and cities; etc.

First it has to be recognized that every leader has “fans” who would follow them anywhere, even to death. Therefore it is difficult to assert that it rests solely on the shoulders of the person in the leadership role. Some very good, ethical, honorable, and highly effective leaders have such wildly devoted fans who are, really, just too devoted.

It is also true, though, that some lousy, unethical, dishonorable, and incredibly ineffective leaders have such followers. Sometimes that is by accident. The leader may be as amazed and clueless about the existence of such followers as we are. Frankly, they are probably also clueless about just how lousy they are as leaders.

However, sometimes accumulating such die hard followers is by design of some of the worst leaders. These scare me the most. They are leaders who want people to follow their every command. They seem to have an innate ability to latch on to folks who are most susceptible to their brand of “leadership” as control.

Within the larger field of leadership studies there is authentic transformational leadership (usually just known as transformational leadership or simply TL). Transformational leadership emerged through the work of James MacGregor Burns in his 1978 book Leadership. For Burns, his concept of leadership was not based in power over followers but in power with followers to accomplish the goals of both. Transformational leaders use four core strategies that are very positive and follower focused:

  • Attending to the needs of follows and acting as a mentor or coach (Individualized Consideration)
  • Engaging with followers and asking for and receiving their ideas and feedback (Intellectual Stimulation)
  • Articulating a vision to followers that is appealing and inspiring (Inspirational Motivation)
  • Being a role model with and for the kind of behavior that instills pride, gains respect and trust, and is highly ethical (Idealized Influence)

Then there is also pseudo-transformational leadership, which, as the name implies, uses the trappings of transformational leadership to gain power over followers. Pseudo-transformational leaders use the behaviors of transformational leadership to the nefarious ends of having devoted followers who will do anything they want them to do. They do this by appearing to regard followers in this way and acting as if they are doing the same four things but, in fact, they are being deceptive and using them only for their own ends. It is, to borrow the well-worn phrase, to be “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Pseudo-transformational leadership is defined by self-serving, yet highly inspirational leadership behaviors, unwillingness to encourage independent thought in subordinates, and little caring for one’s subordinates more generally.

Christie, A., Barling, Julian, & Turner, N. (2011). Pseudo‐Transformational Leadership: Model Specification and Outcomes 1, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41. DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00858.x

The challenge presented to followers is that transformational leaders and pseudo-transformational leaders may look very much alike – at the beginning. By the time we’ve figured out that we are following a charlatan we may be in so deep that it becomes impossible to extract ourselves. Or, once we realize that we’ve been duped, we may stay in because we are embarrassed and want to save face. Or, in a worst case scenario, we don’t want out because we have bought into the pseudo-transformational leader’s vision, regardless of how bad it is for us and others.

One of things I’m looking forward to in my upcoming interview with the woman who studies “toxic followership” is talking with her about why it is that people stay in line behind pseudo-transformational leaders. Truthfully, we’ve all done it, you know. We’ve all, at one time or another, got in line behind a leader who was not worthy of our trust and only wanted power over us. It would be a good thing if we could figure this out, don’t you think?


chickenman – episode 86

Chickenman returns to get his orders for dealing with the Very Diabolical: Go Winged Warrior fast!


the view from jeff

Jeff explains: On the first day of Biking Camp Matthew wished he had read Pastor Juli’s email a little closer!! Make sure you register for NewGate Baptist Summer Camps, sadly no Viking Camps (at least this year). (Jeff, and his spouse Juli, are co-pastors at this multi-cultural church in Calgary.)

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

July 16, 2020 – Dog Days and Dog Rides

According to Farmers’ Almanac (where else?) The “Dog Days” of summer” refers to that period of Summer from July 3 to August 11. I’ve always assumed it had something to do with the oppressive heat that usually comes during this period. For example, right now in Laurel, we are experiencing a heatwave of more than 20 days over 90 degrees. And, because of the heat, it seems the best thing to do is simply lie around, like the dog, on the cool floor. Not a bad idea, eh?

Turns out there is an astronomical explanation for the “Dog Days.” Here’s how Farmers’ Almanac describes it:

The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.

In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

Thus, the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun—July 3 to Aug. 11.

Farmers’ Almanac, Why Are They Called the “Dog Days” of Summer?

That is all very interesting and good to know, but it is completely meaningless to our remaining dog, Dolly. (You’ll remember had to let Madison make her journey to the Rainbow Bridge about a month ago.) Dolly has this idea that “Dog Days” means “Dog Rides.”

My view of Dolly while on a ride.

Every time I take her outside to do her doodies (or “duties,” if you will), she finds a way to guide me to my car. She stands by the driver’s side rear door looking up at me until I either give in and take her for a ride or I become the Big Bad Doggy Daddy and slowly, but gently, drag her back into the house.

Those eyes! See what I mean??? I’m helpless!

Standing by the door of the car she looks up at me and kills me with those sweet, dark eyes. More often than I’d like, I give in and we go for a brief ride. Really, it doesn’t have to be long. I can drive around the block and she still feels like she has been around the world. Farmers’ Almanac, at the end of its article on the “Dog Days” of Summer asks this question: “So what does it mean to you?” For Dolly it means rides. For me, it means I’m driving Ms. Dolly.

P.S. I was going to use a photo of me with my head hanging out the window while driving down the street but that seemed neither wise nor terribly attractive.


chickenman – episode 81

Chickenman continues his flight across the Atlantic, Ms. Helfinger is back in the office, and the Commissioner needs to Wonderful Weekend Warrior. But how is Ms. Helfinger to reach him mid-flight?


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

July 13, 2020 – News and Info You May Have Missed

Stories of covid-19

So, how is the battle against the Novel Cornavirus going? According to the data, as of yesterday at 2:12 PM, it’s going just GREAT if you are trying to kill off a lot of people in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t the point of Trump’s inaction. Maybe he wins the election by reducing the electorate!?!? Seems a really odd strategy but…geez…weirder things have happened, eh?

Here’s a couple of graphics I grabbed yesterday. First, this one comes from the Harvard Global Health Institute, and you can check out the current data yourself by following the link or just clicking on the map.

This map shows, county by county, the risk levels for each. The redder the county, the higher the risk. In this way the Harvard Global Health Institute folks are trying to answer the question: How severe is the pandemic where you live?

Just a glance of the map tells us a couple of things. First, it’s much less risky to be in the Northeast and the Rocky Mountain region. Not a good idea at all to plan vacation travel to Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas or Alabama. Each of these states – as whole – are in the red (highest) risk level category.

The scond thing this tells us, because all of the these states are in the “sunbelt” in the midst of summer, the Novel Coronavirus is not being slowed by the outside temperature. You’ll remember this was one of the theories being floated by Trump a few months ago based on a Department of Homeland Security study, which was not peer reviewed. This is a great illustration of why good data matters and, even more, a good process needs to be used to get to the data. By the way, what IS the status of that study? Was it ever completed? Has it been reviewed? After Trump put it out there as yet another one of his “creative” solutions to the virus, it seems to have disappeared…you know…like the virus… in the sunlight, after you drink a gallon of Lysol, and take a few hydroxychloriquine.

I have one more graphic, this one from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington State. These are the folks who have been trying to project the number of deaths from the pandemic in the U.S. See below for their latest projection. They are now projecting over 200,000 deaths by November 1. Again, check it out for yourself at the link or by clicking on the graphic.

November 1 – in case you’ve forgotten, this is only two days before the General Election on November 3rd. Please, don’t forget…either this number and to vote.


news and info you may have missed

Maureen Dowd has not exactly been friendly to Joe Biden. She has called him out on some of the faux pas and bad choices he has made over the years. She has a realistic view of who he is. And she has a realistic view of who Trump is. Her column in Satuday’s NY Times is worth reading.

Also worth reading is Ashley Parker and Robert Costa’s piece in the Saturday’s Washington Post. The growing movement of Republicans working against Trump’s reelection seems to be gaining some traction.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of the public radio show On The Media. The July 10th show, 40 Acres, is particularly interesting and informative with regard to housing discrimination and the eviction crisis in the United States. Generally I’m pretty well informed but I do not know much about real estate, financing, and “redlining.” Listening to this show, though, gave me a much better understanding of all of these.

Jo, a regular reader from out West, sent me this great piece from NPR. She and I have worked in the field of sexuality education. She found this story from NPR and passed it on to me, knowing of that part of my professional background. The title of the article says a lot doesn’t it? Starting A COVID-19 ‘Social Bubble’? How Safe Sex Communication Skills Can Help.

Judy, a reader from really far out West, also sent me a piece about the disparties in enforcing stay-at-home emergency orders by Honolulu Police. The Hawai`i Public Radio describes Micronesians, Samoans, and Blacks have been disproportionately cited for violations. Violations in Hawai`i carry some pretty tough penalties – up to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail. However, Hawai`i also has a large homeless population which has further complicated the issue.


Bob dylan, DJ

Another regular reader, Mike, reminded me that Bob Dylan had a radio show on satellite radio back in the early 2000’s. It was called “Theme Time Radio Hour.” I don’t remember if it was on XM Radio or Sirius (before they were joined up and became SiriusXM). I’m inclined to think it was XM Radio because I remember listening to the show a few times and the only subscription I had at that time was to XM.

I found if you open the archive website link in Google Chrome, there will be a player that opens with it to allow you to listen to the show. Firefox may require you to download a player first. If the link above does not open in Chrome, you can cut and paste this link into your Chrome browser: https://www.themetimeradio.com/

The theme for the very first episode was Weather so it featured weather realated music from all genres. Dylan featured music by a wide variety of performers: Muddy Waters, Jimmie Davis, Joe Jones, Dean Martin, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and one of my all time favorites, Fats Domino.

The show was on for three seasons. Seems like some good Summer time listening!


chickenman – episode 80

Ms. Helfinger continues her breakdown and her visit with the psychiatrist. However, she flips the couch on him!

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

June 7, 2020 – Hard Choices

hard choices

Clemencia and I, like many of you, have been making many difficult decisions over the past few months of the pandemic. You’ve probably noticed too that they aren’t getting any easier.

Recently we’ve been facing the decision of how much to go back out into the world. In our state, Maryland, the positivity rate for the virus is 4.53%, up slightly from yesterday, but still the lowest it has been in months. The lowered positivity rate gives confidence that people can begin to move about more freely outside their homes.

With that new sense of freedom, we begin to wonder how much moving about is too much. It also raises the question “Just because we can begin to go out again, should we?”

We’ve answered that question for ourselves. Given:

  • the changing understanding that the coronavirus is not only spread by droplets but aerosol;
  • the risk it poses to older people like ourselves and, now as we are learning, for young people;
  • the gross failure of the Trump administration and many governor’s to act in accordance with the best science available to contain the virus; and,
  • the overall failure of American’s to use the simplest mitigation practices: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance,

we are deciding to shelter-in-place until a vaccine is widely available.

Yes, we know that could be many months, even years. However, the possibility of catching or spreading the virus seems completely irresponsible to us given all we know about the virus and what COVID-19 does to people. It isn’t just that it kills many older people, it now appears to destroy the bodies of younger people. Actor Nick Cordero, who was only slightly older than our own children, is a horrific case in point of just how much the virus can devastate the body.

For us, it is easy to stay at home because we can both work from home and online. We do not have to go out. Still, it is a hard decision because we know it means we cannot be with family or dear friends.

Earlier today, after sharing this decision with a friend and colleague, I was asked, “But what would you do if you had young children?” The presence of young children presents an even harder choice. I had to stall a little as I quickly thought about it.

Finally, I said that I’d do everything I could to keep my children home with me. I say this fully aware that, though I am not a wealthy person, I live a privileged life compared to many others. And it is privileged compared to my younger self, too. I know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck; to be far behind on payments; to be on the verge of eviction; to have my credit ruined because of debt delinquency; and to miss meals because I couldn’t feed my family and also feed myself.

In reality my younger-less-privileged-self would not be able to stay at home and keep my children at home too. My heart aches for the parents who feel they have no recourse but to send their children back to school in a few weeks. My blood boils at Lame, Lummoxed, Loggerheaded Leaders who are so lacking creativity and courage that they cannot re-imagine how education could be – if resources were made available. We can help parents teach and manage their children even as they need to continue to work, from home or outside the home, even as essential workers. It still wouldn’t be easy for a parent but neither is sending a child off everyday to an environment you are not sure is really safe for them.

If those “Leaders” wanted to, if we as a society had the will, we could make the investment for every parent and every child. In turn, they could make the easier choice of keeping their children safer at home this Fall. Really, can’t we do that?


chickenman – episode 77

This episode focuses on life back at the Commissioner’s office in Midland City. Ms. Helfinger realizes the Commissioner has a brother! A rum running brother!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

June 26, 2020 – The Conundrum of Forgiveness

Today is June 26, 2020. This is also celebrated as Forgiveness Day – a day to forgive and to be forgiven. How can one day be so impractical and at the same time so practical?

after the rain

Late yesterday afternoon we had a fierce thunderstorm. I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying attention or if it really did sneak up on us, but I didn’t see it coming. One moment all seemed to be just fine out side, the next minute it was raining so hard that it was difficult to see across the street.

Throughout the storm I continued to work. When it had stopped raining our telephone rang. Our neighbors Neil and Jan called to tell us to look out the window. When I did, this is what I saw.

I don’t recall ever having see a complete rainbow in my life, let along a double complete rainbow. The double rainbow is a bit easier to see in the picture below. Notice the intensity of the colors of the inside rainbow.

I ran from window to window and window to deck to get a better angle to take pictures. All the while I was rushing about hoping it wouldn’t dissipate too quickly. I needn’t have worried. It was such an intense rainbow that it was visible for close to 30 minutes. Extraordinary!


the conundrum of forgiveness

The conudrum of forgivess is this: it is never about the other person, it is always about us. The capacity and will to both seek forgiveness and forgive others is what makes us decent, fully-human people. No matter the hurt we feel or the hurt we cause, granting or seeking forgiveness sets us free.

I’ve had the experience of doing both though I’ve more often had to seek forgiveness than grant it. Asking forgiveness is one of the most humbling things I’ve ever had to do. If you are familiar with the 12 Steps of Alchoholics Anonymous, and similar 12 Step groups, you know that the act of asking forgiveness is critical. In fact, beginning with the Fourth Step, seven of the 12 Steps are all about seeking forgiveness.

In the 1980’s I regularly attended Adult Children of Alcoholics and we used the 12 Steps in our own healing and recovery work, too. Addiction requires at least two people: the addict and a person who enables the addiction. Sometimes the enabler is the whole family. It took me a while to fully see and understand my own contribution to my father’s alcoholism. While I was not to blame, I helped enable the conditions that allowed him to feed his addiction until it grew beyond control. Enablers are not to blame for the addiction; but they do have responsibility for either supporting it (even unconsciously) or addressing it intentionally through what Al-Anon calls “detaching with love.” Many may see the line between feeling responsible and feeling a sense of blame to be very thin. I assure you, it is not.

When we carry blame, we also feel shame and powerlessness. It hangs on us like a backpack full of rocks. We can never seem to wriggle free from the bag, no matter what we do.

The mindshift from blame to responsibility is actually quite freeing. When we have been able to make that shift, we find that responsibility opens us to options we never had under the oppression of blame. Among the options that appear are giving and receiving forgiveness.

The 12 Steps, particularly Steps 4 through 10, help us embrace our responsibility. I can remember working Steps 8 & 9. It was excruciatingly difficult because it meant I had to seek forgiveness from people I had hurt in my wildly chaotic quest to fix my father’s addiction.

One person I approached for forgiveness and with whom I needed to make amends was the former minister of our church. As a young and upcoming preacher, who left the Methodist tradition to become a Baptist, I was invited to speak at the community Easter Service in my hometown. I used that opportunity to unleash the whole of Baptist hellfire on my former minister in a highly public attack while he sat only feet away. Why? Because I believed he had failed my father and my family.

Still, he extended grace to me that day, years later, when I sought him out to ask his forgiveness. I got the impression that he had largely forgotten it and had dismissed the bad behavior as pure hubris. Nonetheless, that day he took two of the big rocks out of my backpack – anger and loathing.

The act of forgiving, though, is a different kind of challenge. Sometimes the offense is so small that it takes little effort to forgive. Other times it takes every single ounce of humanity we possess to do it. For me, the most powerful model of forgiveness came from a man I stood in line with once at a Chinese take-out restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa. I knew of him by his reputation and I wanted to meet him. But I was still too burdened by my hidden shame to walk up to him and introduce myself. I regret having lost that opportunity.

His name is Ako Abdul-Samad, but this Wikipedia page does not really tell his story. Today he serves in the Iowa House of Representatives and recently he has been personally involved in keeping peace in Des Moines among the people who are protesting the death of George Floyd. He has even physically stood between police and protesters.

A more complete story, including his remarkable act of grace and forgiveness, is recalled in this article, written in 2016 but recently updated. In brief, Ako’s son was shot by another young man and died. Because it was a gang related shooting and Ako knew the shooter would not be safe from retaliation from his son’s gang, he took the young man into his own home. As he planned his own son’s funeral, he offered shelter and protection to the young man who killed his own child. Read the full story yourself, please. It is more real in Ako’s words.

Over the years as I’ve recalled Ako’s story from time to time, I’ve wondered how forgiveness and forgetfulness fit together. “Forgive and forget” is something we are all told at one time another. It seems impossible because it doesn’t seem wise. If I forget the harm done to me, what prevents me from getting hurt again? For this reason forgetting seems to be an irrational companion to forgiving.

Still, do we ever really forgive without forgetting? The answer is not simple. There is an elegant but complex dance that forgiveness and forgetfulness does within our soul.

Sometimes we can forgive and forget when the offense is slight and we have no permanent damage or scar. If this is the case, then we sometimes wonder if forgiveness is really needed at all, “no harm, no foul,” we say to ourselves.

Sometimes we can forgive and forget because we are so full of grace and faith in humanity that it is impossible for us to keep account of our hurts. This is rare indeed and if you are one of these unique people, you might consider applying for sainthood.

Sometimes we first have to forgive so we can begin to lose the memories of the pain. The act of forgiveness releases the valve that holds the memories in place. This takes great patience because some pain can leave deep impressions on our memory.

Sometimes we forgive and lose the memories of the pain but not the memories of the actions leading up to them. In these cases we are graceful and also wiser but sadder. The wisdom allows us to remain aware of potential danger. The sadness is because we grieve the loss of relationship that comes with such mistrust.

Forgiveness and forgetfulness are a mystery and inexplicably woven together. For this reason each of us have to discern for ourselves whom we need to forgive, from whom we need to seek forgiveness, and how much of our own hurt we can afford to forget. This work of discernment is also known as the Fourth Step in the 12 Step program: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Happy Forgiveness Day!


chickenman – episode 70

Benton Harbor (Chickenman) has another costume malfunction as he tries to prepare to apprehend a shoplifter. Gladys, a colleague at the shoe store, learns his secret identity.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

June 8, 2020 – Lady & The Baseball Bat

Today is June 8, 2020, today is Best Friend Day! It’s a great day to celebrate and honor your best friend! Since you are still social distancing, it might be a bit challenging to take them to lunch. But you can still meet up with them via Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or just by phone. Do not underestimate the power of these platforms to strengthen friendships and to even make new friends.


let’s start the week with a little dance…

This video comes from Cynthia, a regular reader in Washington State. Thanks Cynthia! This is a fun flash mob dance from Russia to an 90-year-old tune by Irvin Berlin, Puttin’ on the Ritz, or, since it is from Russia, is that “Putin on the Ritz?” Sorry, bad joke…totally irresistible though.


…And a smile with chickenman – episode 52

Benton Harbor (aka Chickenman, aka “Yo-Yo”) is still at his high school reunion.


Lady & The Baseball Bat

When I first saw her she was just a few feet off the trail in the woods behind a house, which I presumed to be hers. She was bending down to tie a shoe and she had a small, metallic blue baseball bat with her. It seemed curious to me that she had the bat in the woods but I figured she had her reasons. I greeted her, she returned my greeting, and I continued on the trail.

We have a 2.12 mile walking trail that encircles our neighborhood. I know it is 2.12 miles in length because every tenth of a mile is marked for those of us who use the trail for exercise. The markings are also handy in case someone falls or takes ill on the trail. Emergency services will know more accurately where to go.

I didn’t think much about the baseball bat or the woman as I continued my walk. I just kept on moving, focused on making my goal of 3.5 miles in 60 minutes averaging 3.5 mph.

When I got to the opposite end of the trail I met the woman again. This time it was clear that she was walking the trail…with a baseball bat. As we met I moved slightly off the trail (out of range of the bat just in case) and I greeted her again and she returned the greeting again. This time, as I moved on, I found myself wondering why she had the baseball bat.

The baseball bat was a first for me. I’ve seen people carrying a lot of things on the trail, but not a baseball bat.

However, I’ve also heard of people having interesting experiences with wildlife on the trail. Some have reported being dive bombed by birds. Some people have even reported the same thing from bats at sunset – the rodent kind, of course, not those from Louisville Slugger. I’ve run into wild animals on the trail myself. Typically it is rabbits, squirrels, deer, turtles in the pond, and an occasional woodchuck. Of the more intimidating variety, I’ve also seen foxes and a coyote. The meanest I’ve encountered to date, though, are the Canadian geese who are tending to their young goslings on the pond. I give them lots of space when they are hanging out on the trail. One of the grown geese guards the family while the other parents it. The guard goose has a pretty nasty stink eye.

After seeing the coyote on the trail, I went out with a walking stick for a couple of weeks, so I can appreciate that someone might want to take a bat. But, really, a bat?

As I kept thinking about the bat I tried to remember what else I had observed about the woman in our brief encounters. First, I’ve mentioined it already, I noticed her gender. Second, I noticed, generally, her age…probably older than me, which puts her in the late 60’s or even in her 70’s. Third, I noticed she is black.

Mulling over those observations it suddenly hit me (a thought, not the bat) what all three had in common: vulnerability. Each, and together, gender, age, and race made the woman highly vulnerable. It would be easy to rationalize away the bat by simply saying she was protecting herself from the wildlife. I didn’t actually believe that to be the case though. This is a time when the most vulnerable among us are feeling more vulnerable than usual.

At this point the reflection turned inward. “What is there about me,” I wondered, “that makes me a threat to other people, especially to those who are already feeling vulnerable?” Of course, there is that I’m white, I’m male, and at age 66 I’m still in reasonably good shape. I suppose all of these could make me intimidating to some people.

Then I wondered if the lady with the bat thought I might be someone she should fear. There was a part of me that wanted to turn around, catch up with her, and let her know that I’m harmless. However, by merely turning around, catching up with her, and telling her I’m harmless would likely only confirm some of her fear…especially the part that I might be a bit weird. Sigh.

We never really know how people perceive us, eh? I know how I want to be perceived, but threat is in the eye of the beholder. One of the things I’m revisiting in this time is how I am perceived and received by others. That’s not a bad thing at all. How I wish to be perceived is an idealized vision of myself. If I hold that vision before me and strive to attain it, then I think I could be contributing to making this a safer place for all after all. No baseball bat needed.


“what do you want to say?”

This is the question that was asked of people in Minneapolis near the area where George Floyd was murdered on May 25th. Photographer John Noltner documented their answers with words and beautiful portraits. The video below compiles and shares the answers to that question. I have attempted to embed the video via Facebook below. If it doesn’t appear, then simply click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1378217865699829

When you’ve finished watching the video, visit the National Conversation Project to learn more about ways you can keep engaged. Much appreciation to my friend Beth Howard for introducing me to this video, as well as the National Conversation Project and the photography and work of John Noltner. On May 31, 2020 Beth was in Minneapolis, two blocks from where George Floyd was murdered, giving away pie to members of the community. When we all do what we can, when we can, from where we can, it matters.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health.

Tom

Day 67 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Doing the mambo count up, we get to Mambo No. 8, again with Pérez Prado and his orchestra.

Thursday, May 21, 2020 – Live to Blog with Mambo on My Mind

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation in the Time of COVID-19 and #alonetogether

Clemencia and I love to dance. In 2006 we started ballroom dance lessons and learned to love a wide variety of dances. Unfortunately, all of the ballrooms are closed in our area so it will be a while before we are back out on the dance floor. Our favorites are cha cha, rumba, quick step, merengue, samba, and a little bit of salsa – which also encompasses the style known as mambo. Today I’ve got mambo on my mind…specifically Mambo No. 5!


It’s a Mambothon!

Let’s kick it off with the King of the Mambo Pérez Prado! We’ve got Prado’s version of Mambo No. 5 (don’t worry the Lou Bega version is coming up). I really love the choreography that Pérez Prado did with his orchestra. Not sure I’m wild about the outfits, but, ah, yes, great choreography and dancing!

Of course, there is the Lou Bega “Mambo No. 5” that was a huge hit in 1999. Bega’s version is a remake of the Pérez Prado’s instrumental version you just heard. A couple of interesting factoids about Lou Bega. First, he is German (of Sicilian and Ugandan descent) and, second, his stage name is a respelling of his birth name: David Lubega. Bega was 24 years old when he got us all moving with “Mambo No. 5.”

At the risk of inundating you with too much Lou Bega and Mambo No. 5 (that’s really not possible is it?), you need to see this one…Lou Bega with André Rieu, live in Maastricht, Netherlands. André Rieu is an amazing musician. You’ve maybe seen him in concert with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. Rieu’s hometown is Maastricht and each year, in early July, he does a free public performance in the main square of the town. In 1999 I got to spend some time in Maastricht as part of a study experience and I fell in love with the city. I’ve often said that if I could live anywhere in Europe, it would be Maastricht. It is ancient city…it has 2,500 year old ruins dating back to Roman occupation. The square, which you’ll see in this performance, is magnificently beautiful. One of things on my bucket list is to be in Maastricht for one of Rieu’s homecoming performances. If you haven’t wanted to dance yet, this one will do it to you!

Doing the mambo count up, we get to Mambo No. 8, again with Pérez Prado and his orchestra. This appears to have been made for a movie. The set, costumes, choreography, and dancing is just a little bit more polished. Enjoy!

Rosemary Clooney, auntie to George, popularized “Mambo Italiano” in 1955. It was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and France, going all the way to #1 in the U.K. It was hastily written by Bob Merrill in an Italian restaurant in New York – which explains the Latin/Italian fusion, right? He was under a recording deadline so he actually “phoned it in” from a payphone – lyrics, melody, etc. Mitch Miller was the conductor and producer for the song and he managed to put together a winning combination. The song is actually a parody of mambo music and utilizes a number of nonesense lyrics. Still, it is fun, the beat is good, and the tune is catchy.

This last selection was a tough choice. Both Perry Como and Nat King Cole recorded “Papa Love Mambo.” I’m a fan of both. However, I featured a beautiful Perry Como song in an earlier blog so I had the easier choice of going with Nat King Cole. This man makes anything he sings better, doesn’t he? Clemencia tells me that Nat King Cole is beloved in her native Colombia and many other Latin American countries because he was one of the few Americans to produce a Spanish language album. He made the album in 1958 and in 2007 it was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame. Clemencia tells me that his Spanish was not very good but nobody cared. They appreciated his effort and loved hearing his silky voice interpret some of their favorite music. You can hear the full album here. This says alot about simply making an effort doesn’t it?


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 36 – Chickenman undergoes surgery…and the infusion of chicken soup…in an effort to regain visibility, while the whole of Midland City eagerly awaits the outcome.


¡Charlemos con Clemencia! Is Now Live!

Mi jefe (my boss) Clemencia gave a “thumbs up” to her new website. You can find it at www.charlemos.net. Now that you’ve met Clemencia through my blog, you need to meet her properly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed…but she always betters me in the stories I put in this blog. In fact, she is even better in real life. While I’m a doofus, she is a shining star!

And, of course, if you’d like to study Spanish, she is enrolling students for the Summer Session.

A Sad Reality…

Research out of Columbia University, reported widely this morning, indicates that a single week of inaction on the part Mr. Trump’s administration cost as many as 36,000 lives. This news comes as we are approaching 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19. This same article reports researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst estimate 113,000 deaths by mid-June.

Throughout the article linked above there are some staggeringly sad numbers, estimates, and models. Despite having this information in hand, Mr. Trump plans a visit to Detroit (indicating he doesn’t intend to wear a mask despite executive orders by the Governor of Michigan, who just happens to be a Democrat); he is pushing Charlotte, North Carolina to move forward with plans to host the Republican National Convention; he is encouraging states to go forward with in-person voting for the primary elections; and he keeps self-medicating with hydroxychoroquine.

You know what is really sad? All of it. Everything. To the “Nth” degree.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and try a little mambo today!

Tom

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 62 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, for him to buckle up but he didn’t.

Saturday, May 16, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Deck with Argumentative Socks

#alonetogether

Okay, new HVAC system installed. The house is quiet again. Everything is working just fine. I awakened to a beautiful day, went to the deck, and then it happened.


The Sock Rebellion – Part 2

As you know, Bert Left and Ernie Right are retired each night to our deck. They are gently hung up on the back of my Amish Made Poly Adirondack chair to dry and air out. I’m surprised at how many readers inquire about Bert and Ernie’s well being. In fact, they are doing very well given they are being worn daily and are still unwashed for 62 days. I’m rather surprised. In fact they may be holding up better than me and I am washed daily.

The downside of this great unwashed experiment is that Bert and Ernie have become increasingly belligerent and irascible. A couple of weeks ago they wanted to get away from the house. I had to put my foot down and tell them no. Today I ran into more trouble with them when I went out to the deck to retrieve them to start the day with me.

  • Bert: Hey bonehead. What are you doing?
  • Me: Me? I’m doing the same thing I have done every day for 61 days. I’m coming out to get you, put you on, and go work.
  • Ernie: Yeah? Well, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Bert: Yeah, that’s right. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.
  • Me: Wait a minute…two weeks ago you two were trying to bully me into taking you out of the house for a movie or dinner, or something like that.
  • Bert: So what, bonehead? We can do whatever we like. And now, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Ernie: Yeah. We ain’t budgin’. Nope.
  • Me: Look guys, what’s going on here? You’ve never had a problem being moved from the deck until now.
  • Ernie: Well, bonehead, that’s cause it hasn’t been warm and sunny until now. Did you know the sun was out yesterday and it got to be about 90 degrees?
  • Bert: Yeah, man, that felt so good! And today it’s going to be in the 80’s!
  • Ernie: Look, I’ve already started to get a tan.
  • Me: Socks don’t tan.
  • Ernie: Who says, bonehead? That’s a tan line if I ever saw one.
  • Me: No, it’s not. It’s a dirt line. It’s right at the point where the top of my shoe comes up on you.
  • Ernie: I’m not going to argue with you, bonehead. I know it’s a tan line and I know you’re stupid.
  • Me: Look, Ernie…and Bert…I’m getting tired of your complaining and your calling me names.
  • Bert: Really bonehead? Isn’t that your name? (Ernie laughs outloud.)
  • Me: Bert, you know it isn’t. Come on, guys, be more civil, will you? We’ve got too much incivility in our world right now.
  • Ernie: Whoaa! Fancy word, bonehead! “Incivility,” I like that!
  • Me: Apparently you do. In fact, I’ve never known socks to be so incivil.
  • Bert: Well, thank you very much, bonehead! We appreciate that!
  • Me: I need you two to come off the chair now and get to work.
  • Bert: Why? Are we going somewhere today?
  • Me: No, of course not. We still have to shelter-in-place.
  • Ernie: So then what’s the hurry? You ain’t goin’ nowhere. And we ain’t done soakin’ up the rays, man.
  • Bert: Yeah, we’re still chillin’. Hey, Ernie, what did I do with my sunglasses?
  • Ernie: They’re already on your face, dummy!
  • Bert: Oh, yeah, how’d I miss that? Okay, ready to sing?
  • Ernie: Count us in, Bert!
  • Bert: One, two…one, two, three, four…
  • Bert & Ernie:I wear my sunglasses at night, So I can…

Some days it just isn’t worth the fight. So I closed the door to the deck, went to my closet, and got out a pair of sandals. It’s supposed to rain tonight. I think they can just stay on the deck! Ha!


Driver’s Ed with Boomer

Earlier this week I introduced you to my brother-in-law, Boomer. In that earlier story you learned that he was a biker, a street fighter, and a father figure to me. In addition to his bike, he loved fast cars. He had a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner that he would drag race (if you are only familiar with RuPaul’s Drag Race, you may wish to look this one up). Boomer’s car was no longer “stock.” It had been upgraded to make it go even faster and look even better.

This 1968 Plymouth Road Runner looked very much like the one Boomer had and which he let me drive…once..but what a ride!

The Plymouth Road Runner was named after the famous Warner Brother’s cartoon character and its horn would make the character’s “Beep-beep” sound rather than the usual blaring car horn sound. I always liked that feature!

Shortly after I got my learner’s permit, Boomer let me drive his Road Runner. At that time in Iowa you got your learner’s permit at age 14. I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles by that time, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited for him to buckle up, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, but he didn’t. When I asked why he wouldn’t buckle up he replied, rather loudly with at least one swear word, “Why should I do that? I pay taxes! If I’m in a wreck, the ambulance drivers need to come find me. I’m not going to make their jobs easy by strapping myself in!” Boomer was a fount of such irrefutable logic.

By the time I drove the mile to the edge of town I was so nervous I was already sweating through my tee shirt and sticking to the vinyl seat. As we pulled up to the stop sign near the Shell station, Boomer said, “Let’s go West on 78 and see what you can do.” So I turned right onto the highway. State Highway 78 is a two-lane highway that goes over rolling hills with only a few curves. (Yes, much of Iowa is actually rolling hills, not flat prairie like Nebraska.)

Having successfully made the turn and started down the highway, I was careful to observe the speed limit. After a minute at about 60 miles per hour, Boomer, apparently bored with the slow pace, swore again and said, “I said let’s see what you can do. Open it up!” So I began to press the acclerator down.

The speedometer (which registered all the way up to 155 miles per hour) slowly climbed…70…75..80…90…I was really beginning to sweat now. I glanced over at Boomer. He nodded and said, “Keep goin’.”

95…100…110…I glanced over again as my heart pounded. He said, “Yeah, that’s right. Go on!”

115…120…125…and on the next hill I felt the car begin to come off the ground as we topped it. I couldn’t take it anymore. Plus I was scared of what Boomer would do if my frightened bladder gave way on his car seat.

I let up on the gas and when I did I heard a string of expletives come out of Boomer’s mouth and then this assessment, “Oh my god, I could crawl faster than that!”


SCTV’s Take on Perry Como

Perry Como was a crooner whose career spanned seven decades. He was known for his beautiful, smooth baritone voice. If you have never heard of him or heard his voice, it worth listening to his rendition of “And I Love You So.” Once it starts to play, you may remember it. His longevity inspired SCTV to create this interesting “tribute” to him. It is one of my favorite sketch’s from the SCTV archives. Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek fame, plays Como in this sketch.


The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 31 the Police Commissioner breaks the news to Midland City of Chickenman’s accident with the Chicken Dissolver.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep avoiding arguments with incivil, irascible socks…and the people in them.

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