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Open America Now, Emotionally not Economically

Self-isolation spreads the love

In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide. Its second wave, probably spread by the movement of troops during the end of World War I was deadlier than its first incarnation. We’re facing the same type of problem if the Open American Now people have their way.

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The Future after Quarantine

Old people are more valuable than politicians

All we have to do to get through this pandemic quickly is stay at home, work from home, and be nice to each other. If everyone did that, we’d be through this in a month or so because the virus wouldn’t be able to find new hosts to spread to. As easy as that sounds, staying at home is a lot harder than anyone ever thought. Props to the stay-at-home parents and sedentary retirees.

But what’s going to happen after we get through this? Is it going to be business as usual, and by usual, we’re looking at business as it was done before the environment was protected since the protections were rolled back while we weren’t paying attention? Are we just going to go back to the same habits and systems that got us to where we couldn’t protect ourselves from a virus in the first place? Where states and the federal government are fighting over medical stockpiles and which entity they belong to? Where the most vulnerable are still vulnerable, economically and medically? Maybe, but they don’t have to go back, and some things won’t be able to go back. We can choose a direction.

Making a Habit

It’s been said that it takes four weeks to make a habit. After four or more weeks of staying at home, people will have gotten used to the convenience of having things delivered. Ordering from the Internet for everything will become the new norm. It’s going to take a lot to get people to come out of their homes and get them into restaurants and other businesses, especially if there’s any lingering fear of the infection. People from the Great Depression era had a tough time throwing things out and severely rationed for much of their lives even when the economy was booming. The economy will no longer be driven by brick-and-mortar profits but by Internet profits, including website monetization, video commercials, and sales.

Even if the U.S. Postal Service stops working in June (as its budget projections show it may), Amazon (affiliate link) will have its fleet of contractors. UPS and Fed-Ex will likely be around. Your local restaurants and other businesses will probably have delivery in place. In some places, cab drivers will become more than just a mode of personal conveyance.

People will support the arts through page views, Patreon and other sites as they realize the value that arts have to everyday life. They will have read more books, binged more movies, and surfed the Internet looking for more ways to entertain their children at home. Entertainment springs from the arts, and a more aware citizenry may be willing to fund their favorite creators.

Human Nature

Human nature will likely trump habits at least for a time. Within the first couple of weeks after restrictions are lifted, people are going to go out more than ever. The deciding factors that will temper this urge to hit the restaurants and theaters are the actual amount of discretionary income everyone has, what the weather is like, and what kind of job advertisers have done to stoke the desires of those experiencing cabin fever.

The first few movie weekends, for those movie theaters that are still around, are going to be huge. As long as people have confidence that they won’t be getting ill for going out, they’ll likely show up in droves. Chances are that these movie-goers will still be wearing masks, which could put a damper on concession sales and movie theater profits. The same could be said of sporting events and concerts. The only question will be whether or not movie companies have figured out how to capitalize on Internet releases. Hollywood, i.e. Disney, may be willing to forgo releasing movies to the theaters if they can get more people to subscribe to Disney+ or to pay for premieres in their own home.

Restaurants will fill up as people look to get away from doing the dishes and worrying about what to make. Malls will see an increase in mall-goers, if not actual consumers, especially if the weather is bad. While city parks may have been widely used, their use will sky-rocket as everyone has already created the habit and can now congregate in larger groups.

Finances and Politics

Financial pressures are going to be problematic. People who have put off their bills for a month or two and find them coming due just because the situation has been declared safe may face a mountain of debt they can’t overcome. Paying one month of rent is hard enough. If they are required to pay two months at a time to cover back rent, the country will be looking at a lot of people becoming homeless. Bankruptcies will increase. Homes will get foreclosed. The problems most associated with financial issues, alcoholism, suicides, and domestic violence will also increase.

A president may see the best way to relieve these problems is to convert the economy by starting a war. This could come from the outside where other countries are seeing the U.S. response to the virus as weak and untenable. They may think that the U.S. won’t recover from the damage that this virus and other policies have done to the country, and in its weakened state, is ripe for an invasion.

Many are already comparing the U.S. to a third world country. It won’t take much to convince the president of a former world power and now third world country to go to war. War brought us out of the Great Depression, it could cure our economic problems again.

As Americans get back on the roads, commuting to their jobs or heading to take a break from their immediate area, gas prices will increase. This will further depress the economic growth of the country and create a target in the Middle East for a war to free their peoples (and liberate their oil in the process).

No End Game

There is a possibility that there is no other side. As people, states, and the federal government refuse to put into place the necessary restrictions to eliminate the virus, the infection rate will continue to grow until everyone has been exposed. Companies will have to figure out how to replace ill employees. Funeral parlors will be a booming business, and old people will continue to be at greatest risk for infection and death due to the infection.

At some point, we’ll have to figure out how to continue, what an acceptable mortality rate is, and who will pay for the treatment for those who are hospitalized due to coronavirus. We could figure out a new way to do things to minimize the possibility of death and disease, or we could throw up our hands, as some pundits and pseudo-news people already have, and say, “F… it! We failed. I never really liked my grandparents or parents anyway, and since they’ve retired, they’ve been nothing but a drag on the economy.” In doing so, we may sign our own death warrants as the virus mutates.

We Make the Choice

The point is, we get to choose what happens at the end of this, but only if we make conscious choices to change for the better. Now is the time to think about what you want for the future and to start putting it in motion. Going back to the way things were isn’t an option, just like it was never an option after Sept. 11. If you want things to get better, you can’t cross your fingers and hope for good luck. You need to be the initiator of that change, large or small, for you, your family, the country, and the world.

If you choose not to direct the change, you’ll have to deal with whatever someone else creates to fill the voids. If you know what you want the future to look like and have some starting steps to get there, leave your suggestions in the comments.

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Never Have so Many Been Asked to Do so Little to Save the People of the World

Wear a mask or better yet stay at home

Man, it’s a crazy time! I hope you’re doing everything you can to keep you, your family, your community, and the people of the world safer. It’s hard with some of the mixed messages coming from different news and not-news sources, but listen to the experts. Stay at home, get regular exercise, practice social distancing, buy only what you need for two weeks, and limit necessary trips to the bare minimum.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never have so many been asked to do so little to save the people of the world. To be fair, it’s not so much a paraphrasing as a butchering, but it still works, especially since we’re being asked to do so little to save each other.

Stay at Home

All we have to do is: Stay home. How hard can that be? For years, stay-at-home moms got a bad rap for being at home all day with nothing to do but watch daytime soaps and feed themselves into oblivion. (Maybe now we have more respect for people who choose to stay at home over getting a job. Just like we should have more respect now for teachers.)

Think about it. Even with the difficulties associated with staying at home, many of us are getting exactly what we wished for: a chance to grow and be at home away from our jobs. That’s amazing! Stay at home, play video games all day, and eat cheese from a can (if you can find it). Read, binge watch something on Netflix or your other favorite streaming service, and start a new hobby if you have the supplies or can order them through Amazon (affiliate link). Stay away from any of the hobby stores that are open; they aren’t necessities and you shouldn’t be going to unnecessary places.

We can be heroes by staying at home. Who’s pulling out the old Atari with me and getting back their old high score on Donkey Kong?

People before Profits

Still, there’s a core section of the population that is finding it difficult to stay at home. They want to work, or they want others to go back to work, or they want you to go back to work, so they can prop up their portfolios and profits. These men, and some women, are a—holes. You should ignore them. They aren’t doctors. They don’t know anything about how the virus is going to progress. Most of them aren’t even economists. They are pundits or talk show hosts, who have somehow disguised themselves as journalists or they are business people, who have somehow found themselves in a position of authority for something they know nothing about. These talking heads are putting profits before people.

Worse, even though they claim to be pro-life, they are advocating killing off up to five percent of the population, most of those being old people and those with compromised immune systems. That doesn’t make them heroes even if they are willing to make that sacrifice. These same advocates of exposing people to a deadly disease make their proclamations from their isolated basements or the sanctuary of their knowledge that their money and position will get them a test and a result in 15 minutes while the average person has to show signs of the virus and wait much longer than 15 minutes to get any results. They continue to doubt the experts and suggest that people do things that will end up in their own deaths or the deaths of loved ones. The longer they encourage people to go outside and come in contact with others, the longer this pandemic will last.

Stay Home

As long as people keep partying with their friends, keep going to their non-essential jobs, keep leaving their homes for no real reason, America will keep facing the deadly consequences of a view miscreants ill-advised acts, and the healthcare system will continue facing an overwhelming job that will result in life and death decisions due to a lack of resources. Communities can’t wait until they see symptoms and confirm that there is a case or cases in the area. It’s like a horror movie or ninjas. If they wait to act, and the action is to stay at home and do nothing, it will be too late. Getting ahead of the curve and shortening the effects of this virus means acting now.

Stay at home, stay away from others, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and wear masks if you have to go outside. If your work requires you to go in and your job can be done from home or is non-essential, consider telling your boss, “No. I don’t want to be responsible for transmitting a disease that could kill someone.” It’s difficult to stand up to your boss, especially if you need the money. However, someone is going to have to do it. Maybe it starts with you, and it might help to send your boss a poem or that video with Samuel L. Jackson (see below). Be safe, my friends and don’t let anyone trade your life and lives of those you love for money.

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Keeping Your Humanity while Keeping Your Distance

Stay the F--k at Home

Infants who do not receive enough touch can die due to a condition known as “failure to thrive.” Skin-to-skin contact is important for both infants and mothers. It reduces stress and increases emotional connection according to “Scientific American.” As we grow up, we don’t stop needing that contact; we can just get by with less, even if it means going without it for years.

Banishment and Solitary Confinement

In the Middle Ages, banishment was a form of punishment akin to death. The person who was banished at that time lost all of his or her support network. The banished became a person non grata in his or her own community and had to find another place to live. Often, the new person would not be accepted in a different society. They could die from exposure to the elements if they didn’t find a place to live, hunger if they couldn’t find food, or dysentery and other disease if they found the wrong food or water source. A person who was taken out of society was at a great risk of physical death after experiencing identity death.

Someone who is in jail can be subjected to a worse punishment. Solitary confinement is used to separate prisoners who misbehave for the safety of the other inmates. Sitting all day alone gives these prisoners an opportunity to think about what they’ve done. On a much lesser scale, children face this type of punishment when they are sent to their rooms or put in the corner. The punishment keeps them from interacting and touching others.

Isolation in Fiction

Several fiction stories have explored long-term isolation and its effects. The Twilight Zone’s first episode was about a man who couldn’t find anyone in the town he walked to. “Where Is Everybody?” was the series start that explore isolation on different levels. “The Lonely,” another Twilight Zone episode, features a convict on asteroid. His only contact comes from the supply ship that arrives every six months. A more modern take on isolation is Tom Hank’s “Cast Away” (affiliate link) wherein Hank’s character befriends a volleyball. In literature, “Robinson Crusoe” (affiliate link) deals with a shipwreck and what happens to the man involved. People aren’t meant to live alone, even those who profess to not like people – maybe them the most. Think of Scrooge (affiliate link) who isolated himself for the love of money until he was visited by ghosts.

Cultural Human Touch

In many cultures, human touch is an important part of interacting. Handshakes, cheek-kissing, a pack on the mouth, and holding hands are all ways to establish a familial or platonic connection depending on where you are and what the cultural norm is. Not being able to connect with people in this very personal way can keep others off their game and lead to depression.

Other Ways to Connect

Fortunately, there are other ways you can connect while staying at least six feet or farther apart. The current self-isolation and quarantine doesn’t mean you have to avoid human contact altogether – just physical contact. With the Internet available, you can still connect to your friends and family. Facetime, Facebook chat, and Skype are all ways to connect to the people you know and love. You even get video!

You can also use your phone to call them. Or if you want less interactivity, you could try YouTube or Facebook live. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts. You just shouldn’t be in the same place as someone else. Virtual conversations can cover that. Even better, if you’re one of the people who is just supposed to stay home, you have the time to make those important connections again.

How to Survive

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has four steps to thriving in self-isolation. The first step is to understand the risks. Don’t let fear rule you. Find the facts and learn your risk factor. The next steps are knowing your mission and obligations. Then you can take action and do something about it.

One Person Doing It Right

Paul Draper, a public speaker, magician, mentalist, and anthropologist was at Disneyland waiting to do a show when he heard the park was closing and he was out of a job. As a public speaker, he’s lost several gigs, and instead of focusing on what happened to him, he focused on what he could do to make his situation better. He started a community on Patreon where he shares his stories and secrets. The biggest secret is that he isn’t just helping himself. He’s helping others through his thoughtful posts and comments. He is still accomplishing his goals, he’s just harnessing the Internet to do it.

The Next Steps

In essence, touch helps us feel real. We need someone else to validate who we are and who we think we are. We need to know we are loved. Words are inadequate to the job, especially in cultures where saying “I love you” is taboo or restricted enough to be taboo. However, you don’t have to let self-isolation take your humanity. Sure, you may feel like touch is the exact thing you need to feel real, but being human is so much more.

Storytelling for Your Soul

One good way to connect is through storytelling. People have been telling stories long before they could write. Fairy tales, fables, and many religions are made up from oral stories passed from generation to generation until they could be written down. Storytelling is your birthright as a human being and now, you have more options to tell your story than ever before.

Write a novel.  Write a short story. Tell the story on video and then release it on YouTube, Facebook, or your favorite social media. Some people are using MadLibs to pass the time. Start your own. There are even communities of writers that have writing prompts. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, the only qualification is you need to write.

Storytelling isn’t just about telling your story. It’s also about listening to the stories of others. It’s the give and take. The act of sharing between two people that makes storytelling so powerful. You don’t have to search far for stories. There are plenty of movies and books with fandoms that you can connect to. However, talking to the older members of your family and asking them for their history will increase your appreciation of them and create memories that will last a lifetime. Now is the time to call grandma and grandpa and ask them how they are doing, and if they’re up for it, what they remember best about their lives.

Play Some Music

You’ve seen the videos of Italians connecting to each other through music from their balconies. Police officers in Mallorca are performing concerts while enforcing the lock down in Spain. Celebrities came together while remaining apart to perform “Imagine.” The Doobie Brothers knew what they were singing about when they said “Listen to the Music.”

But you don’t have to just listen. You can perform, too. Maybe you don’t play an instrument, but if you have one at home, you can learn. All you really need is your voice. Check out Cameron Diaz (below) singing in a scene from “My Best Friend’s Wedding” or Tiffany Haddish in Netflix’s “Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.” Neither one of them is on-key, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is giving yourself the voice and allowing your lungs, vocal cords, and mouth to work together to sing out your feelings – whatever they are.

Back to Normal

We can’t know when it will be safe to touch each other again. As long as people break the rules and continue to party, get together for church services, congregate in parks because “I do what I want” or whatever their excuses are for coming together, we will continue to face the consequences of our physical interactions. Those of us who are doing our part will face the continued consequences of those who are being irresponsible and exposing all of us to greater risk. But that’s okay because in the end, we will understand that our humanity comes from our compassion, our creativity, our storytelling, and our music. Create something new today, and the world will be better for it tomorrow.

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Stay the F— Home: Activity #4 Read

Professor Penguin studies for greater knowledge.

If you’re like me, you have a stack of books you haven’t read yet. Congratulations! You now have time enough at last (Thanks, Rod Serling! affiliate link) to tackle all of those reads that have been waiting for you for all these years! If you don’t have a stack of books, that’s okay. You can go to Kindle Unlimited (affiliate link) and discover so many new books for free! It’s like having a digital library. (I don’t even think you need a kindle device, just the kindle reader downloaded to your device!)

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Stay the F— Home: Activity #2 Aerobicize, Everyone!

Yoga is healthy and can be done alone

You’re going to want to stay healthy while you’re in self-isolation, and there are few better ways than dancing by yourself (Thanks, Billy Idol and Gen X; affiliate link). Find some good music and break out those dance moves. You can even dance like no one is watching… because no one is, and if they are, they shouldn’t be because your self-isolating! People need to respect that. Dancing increases the endorphins and improves the immune-stress response. You’ll feel good, and you’ll really be able to cut footloose (Thanks, Kevin Bacon and Kenny Loggins; affiliate link).

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Stay the F— Home: Activity #1 Videos Killed the Radio Star

Your laptop can be a space

If you are in self-isolation or quarantine, now’s the time to catch up on all those YouTube videos (I have a channel; you can subscribe.) you’ve wanted to see, and several you didn’t. Turn off your ad blocker, and find all of the creators who have been lucky enough to monetize their videos, and watch like crazy! (Or find those that have fewer than 1,000 subscribers, subscribe to them, and then watch all of their videos, so that they will be able to monetize their videos at some point in the future.) By starting with those who have monetized their YouTube, you’re doing two things at once:

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