Monday, June 15, 2020

New Lockdowns Are Not the Answer

I remember a saying from back in the day “fear sells”. This is the reason why more bad news appears in the papers than good news. Bad news captures headlines. Good news is often buried on obscure pages below the fold.

As restrictions are easing up and more people are once again gathering with friends, dining on outdoor terraces, etc., new cases of coronavirus are on the rise. Of course this is going to happen. The goal of lockdown was to “slow the spread” and that goal was accomplished. What needs to be done now is to find a new way of life because the world has been forever changed by COVID-19.

What can we do? Keep the number of people coming together in one place to a reduced number to enable a safe distance between them. Beyond that, everyone needs to personally consider where they are going, how many people will be there and what is the risk of getting sick. Personal responsibility is a must. Closing down the world is not the answer. Change is the answer. We need to see what will work and what will not. This is a proactive approach that allows people to have control over their actions and their lives. We need to be able to enjoy life again. We need a “new normal”. We need to accept change is a part of this. Some things will return. Some things may not return. Everything will be different.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Proverbial Bus

There are no guarantees in this world. There never was and, hopefully, there, never will be. The only guarantee is this moment.

Just as we began to look forward to getting out again, protests over an injustice, and it was an injustice but there is much more to the story, rioting and looting took hold of our streets. Peaceful protests raise awareness. Rioting and looting raise anger and fear. 

The Declaration of Independence opens with; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I wish the people that are grandstanding now incorporate this in their speeches. Voices can be heard and can have an influence. It should be a positive influence for ALL people, not just ONE group. When you change one persons life, you influence all.

If we hadn’t been stuck in government created isolation and lockdown, how would people be reacting now? What about the people whose businesses are destroyed? To survive a pandemic and make a comeback only to be decimated by rioters and looters? Where is the justice in that? 

It has been a very difficult time in the world of 2020. I wonder how history will look back on these days? I am engrossed in contemplation of the events of the year. COVID-19 is still in our world, just slightly less impactful. Will it come back with a vengeance this Fall? One thing is certain, there will be a flu season. There always is. I hope that rioting and looting will not continue to be a part of our lives.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The End of May, 2020

Phase 1 opening started in New York this past week. It will be interesting to see what happens with the number of new cases of COVID-19. What will the government reaction be if we see a sharp rise in new cases? Can you keep shutting business down or should the smart approach be to let people decide for themselves? I am in favor of letting people decide for themselves how they want to deal with the virus. There isn’t much more we can do. The reality at the end of the day is simple. We succeeded in flattening the curve but the curve is simply that; flat. It is not at the bottom. The virus is still out there. Every day more is learned about COVID-19 andevery day is more confusing because the demographics of the people that are getting sick constantly change. 

Business successfully adapted and did so quickly. Schools did an unthinkable shift to remote learning. Some businesses may not recover from this. Some industries will look completely different and some will not survive. A part of me expected, in time, a return to normal. When a 14 day shut down to flatten the curve turned into an additional 30 days to flatten the curve, 45 days seemed like a very long time and then the shut down continued. Now we need to create a new normal if we want to go on with lives that are not locked behind closed doors and windows. We can take the lessons learned and look at ways to permanently include the changes we made in our work and in our personal lives. Some things are better than before. Some things need modifications. Some things were temporary - the government shutting us down and taking to the airwaves to give us daily updates, comforting in the very beginning, quickly lost their appeal as we lost our ability to control our lives. I hope the temporary goes away soon and doesn’t come back. 

I find myself looking forward again. There are many things that are still unknown. The biggest unknowns revolve around community. Dining out; car shows; charity fundraisers; school; museums; church; weddings; celebrations, etc. Can we find a change that feels as exciting as coming together in a large group does? That would be a game changer. 

As they say, back to the drawing board. 

A Blank Slate

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Calming Effect of Crafting

I discovered a way I can get into a form of meditation. I crochet. 

Let me back up for a moment. I know about the benefits of Yoga and meditation. I personally do not experience benefits from either. They are meant to quiet the mind. My mind races when I try and “think about nothing” or “clear your mind”. I feel like I am wasting time. 

I agree there are benefits to stepping back from the constant noise that surrounds me, surrounds all of us at times. How to do this is my problem. I have found a solution - crafts. My 30 year old niece recently asked me if I could crochet her a Piglet. She also said that Eeyore was her second favorite Winnie the Pooh character. I found free amigurumi patterns for both Piglet and Eeyore. I needed to order the yarn colors for Piglet, a very challenging prospect in a time of closed stores but that is a topic for another post. While I was waiting for the order to arrive, I had the yarn I needed to make an Eeyore. I surprised my niece with both crocheted characters last Sunday. 

Back to the point here. Following a crochet pattern quieted my brain. I was focused on the project and a sense of calm and peacefulness settled over me. I experienced something similar in pottery class when I became immersed in the creation of the tiny pots I make for my jade plants. I can “quiet my mind” by actively focusing on a creative project. 

Today, we have the ability to learn something new whenever we are so inclined. We have Google, Pinterest, YouTube, all wonderful sources for “how to” videos and articles. All available in the palm of your hand.  

 How do you find “calm”? 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sixty Five Days Ago

Sixty five days ago on March 10 the world as I knew it, as we all knew it, changed dramatically. A “containment zone” was set up in New Rochelle, New York. My apartment is located .8 of a mile from the edge of the zone; less than a mile away. I learned of this “zone” at Yonkers Pottery Studio while working on my small pottery pots for my jade plants. Conversations were happening before this about this strange virus that was in China and how some of the older people in New York were responding. The mother of one of the students was obsessively buying rice and it was getting sold out. People were hoarding toilet paper. I was seeing this with curiosity. After all, it is flu season; but, why these strange purchase behaviors? That afternoon I learned an event scheduled for March 22 was canceled and a new date cannot be set until they know the Fall schedule. It was the beginning of the eventual cancellations of all events involving more than 10 people, basically all upcoming events. 

My biggest frustration is the lack of information we are getting. Information that I believe science has, or suspected, all along. Quite simply, there is a complete lack of transparency. In the beginning days of HIV/AIDS, the CDC evaluated everything from the position; “What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?” Unless the presented facts could be proven, “What can you prove?” without a reasonable doubt, they were not acted upon. COVID-19 reaction has gone the other way. Actions are being taken based on “What do you think?” The response to this question leads to a “try it and see if it works” approach. 

I firmly believe the leaders were right in the very beginning with the guidelines of “wash your hands, don’t touch your face, use common sense”. Somewhere along the line we got these “cover your face” requirements. This scares me because I see people developing a false sense of security. I honestly think people believe the mask will keep them safe from the virus. I don’t feel safe because people are wearing a mask. I do not think people are washing their hands as much as before wearing a mask, a.k.a. neck warmer as most people are wearing them. Virus’s are fragile organisms and they can easily be rendered useless with simple soap and water. Let’s get back to the basics and let’s use common sense. 

I admit I am having a very hard time with this virus. I am a planner. I am a Type A personality. Restrictions until such time as a vaccine and a treatment for the novel coronavirus is found are understandable. What are the restrictions? Am I going to have to wear a mask in public from now on? If that is the case, I need to accept that I am not going to be “in public” because I cannot breathe with a mask and I have a panic attack wearing one. My solution is to wear a scarf that covers my face. A quick run into the store to grab a bottle of wine is okay. Inconvenient but okay. As a way of life, it doesn’t work because I don’t think people are taking the necessary precautions of washing their hands as much as they would if they weren’t wearing a mask and that means more surfaces are contaminated. And more reasons for me to have a panic attack. 

I think our government officials are hesitating and holding back, dangerously so, with guidelines we will need to follow going forward. I think they know we are not going to like the guidelines. Putting off informing the public is not going to change public reaction. Hospitals should be in a position to now deal with increased outbreaks of the virus. They are going to happen. Other things are going to happen as well. COVID-19 is not the only illness on the planet. 

We are not going back to the way things were prior to March 10. I am not sure that people are accepting this fact. I have some ideas on what the next 12 to 18 months may look like and they are manageable. It is the lack of knowing, the fear of losing my freedom again, that is most disconcerting. 

The only way we can intelligently go into the Fall is with a plan and we need that plan now. Schools should stay in distance learning mode while they develop spaces that are better suited to providing suitable distance between students. Businesses need a plan, like the grocery stores, of managing customers in and out of the store. Restaurants need an plan and if that means the servers wearing masks and gloves, I am not dining in. Whatever it is, please give me the plan and let me decide how to manage it. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Live Streaming - How and Where

Live streaming is easy. Grab your smartphone, log in to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Periscope, Zoom, etc. Almost, if not all, social media platforms offer a live streaming option. You can live stream from a computer and share your desktop during the stream. Using a phone or tablet gives you mobility. The choice of device to stream from will be guided by the result you want and the content you will be streaming.

How you live stream will influence where. Mobile devices can offer a degree of flexibility that is not easily achieved with a computer. A laptop falls somewhere in between. If you are going to be streaming an outdoor event, a mobile device; smartphone or tablet, makes the most sense. If you need  to share files or video, sharing a screen is very easy on a computer. Some platforms will let you share information from a mobile device but the screen size may influence how easily you accomplish this. Basically, live streaming can be done anywhere, anytime.

The ability to reach an audience has never been easier. The ability to connect to others virtually, especially now, is comforting. I think this is one of the biggest changes that will carry forward into our “new normal”. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Digital Apps and Platforms

There are a few things to consider when looking at digital organization. Where are you going to access the information? From a computer? From a mobile device? Whichever you decide the important thing is the information is available on every platform. Save it once and it is saved everywhere. 

Dedicated platforms that have been around for a long time are Dropbox and Evernote. Dropbox is excellent for storing pictures and for sharing folders with pictures in them. Evernote is my go to app to access files, websites, documents relating to a specific project or client. The great thing about both these platforms is the accessibility across multiple devices and platforms and the ability to store information in folders. The folders can then be shared with others or private to only you. 

Cloud storage is getting more and more popular. The key to effectively using cloud storage is to set up the file storage structure in a way that makes it easy to find what you are looking for later. Cloud storage evolved over the last 5 or so years. It may be time to take a look at your structure and rearrange files and folders to meet the working demands of 2020. 

I see collaboration a key benefit with cloud storage. It is much easier to share a document, spreadsheet, presentation, etc. with another person to work on  rather than emailing updates back and forth. Email works but often you lose track of the most recent version and/or it is difficult to go back to a previous version. 
One final thought on digital organization applies to photos. Photography was forever changed with the advent of the smartphone. Today, everyone has a camera in their pocket. How you store, access and share the pictures snapped on your phone is a huge topic that I think deserves its own conversation at a later date. In the meantime, follow the same guidelines for organizing the other components of your digital world - folders. 

What have you found helps in your digital organization? Please share in the comments below.