Written by my former (and last) manager at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, these are contemporary blues lyrics. The tune is up to you. If you know 12 bar blues, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to gin something up.
Written by Don McAlister, 6/28/20 as a standard 12 bar blues song.
When this all got started We didn’t have a clue ‘Bout how crazy things would get And change everything we knew.
At first it didn’t seem that bad The danger wasn’t clear Then cases started popping up West and East, and then right here.
And now it was a crisis Affecting me and you We got it bad Corona Virus Blues!
CHORUS: We got a virus out to kill us And it don’t care ‘bout who And the only way to slow it down Is to change the things we do.
We gotta stay six feet apart And cover up our faces Stay away from bars Only eat at takeout places.
We’ve been hunkered down for months now Watchin’ movies and the news Yeah we got it bad Corona Virus Blues!
Some folks got tired of hearing What they should and shouldn’t do And they protested and said It was time to loosen rules.
Gov’nors felt the pressure And opened up some places But still asked us to distance And cover up our faces
But it got out of hand again Careless gatherings and booze Infections started spiking up and And now we’ve still got Corona Virus Blues!
The need to address the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic may have done more to accelerate the digital transformation many have been working towards for years, than all of the bitching, moaning, hand-wringing, and pearl clutching heretofore expended on cajoling knowledge workers to adopt and adapt these technologies.
Five years ago I served as the developmental editor on the 2nd edition of “The New Social Learning.” I had the pleasure of working with the co-author of the 1st edition, who was the principal author of the 2nd, Marcia Conner. Marcia is one of a handful of people who recognized the need for, and the power of, such a transition . . . and this book was an attempt to help leaders and organizations move forward to adopt these new ways of working, and working together.
I recommend this book highly for everyone who is now finding themselves either working at home or dealing with today’s need to be more “distanced” from our colleagues. There’s a wealth of good info here. I urge you to check it out. It’s about far more than just learning.
“The Workplace Has Changed. At this moment, your people are already learning through social media. They’re reaching out and connecting in powerful ways. The question is, can you recognize, appreciate, and take advantage of the power inherent in this new level of communication? Do you want to facilitate or debilitate? Do you want to play a part in what and how people learn? Or do you want to try to stop them? Will you restrict them? Or will you free them to do the work they were hired to do—and will you do it with them?”
This is the second post by my long-time friend, Susan Marlow. Her first post was published on 28 March 2020 and this is somewhat of a follow-up.
by Susan Marlow – 18 May 2020
Each morning now after more than three months of restriction and isolation I wake up feeling constricted. As I come to, a small gasp escapes out of me and I realize I am still here and still isolated. I feel saddened as I realize this time is all too precious. I have adapted to this thing we call quarantine and I can continue, but I am not enjoying the isolation as much now.
I grumble my acceptance of this new way of life and stretch my body out on the mattress which we meant to replace months ago when it hit the ten year mark of discomfort. With no store to shop for it this mattress is condemned to continue servicing me. Then I take a deep breath of recognition that my day has begun. I thank God for this day.
Since I began in late February I have continued with my gardening and composting. I have 37 gallons of beautiful, sweet smelling dirt which will soon be ready for my garden. Meanwhile, I am experimenting with how to grow vegetables from food that we eat by planting the roots and stems. I have a big tub of bright green tubers growing from bits of potatoes. No potato famine here at this house. Come to think of it what does one potato cost? No matter . . . this is my victory garden.
The wall surrounding our pool equipment has been painted bright blue. The dog has had his hair cut a little- oh lucky pooch. My hair continues to grow like corn stalks sticking out every which way after the hay is collected into mounds,. Nothing to be done about that. I was already white haired before our quarantine began so I do not have to see one color disappear slowly in an awkward manner.
I am beginning to book zoom meets on my calendar—some back to back. It’s like being back at work with appointments to keep. Two zooms are for Funerals and one is for sitting Shiva. Today I will exercise with ladies in Woodstock, New York via zoom. The next birthday zoom is for someone who turns 100. Life and death continue.
During my long period of study and introspection I have come across two items which tell the story of how others, also restricted and far more deprived, nevertheless found ways to cope with fear, death, and massive loss of personal freedom, They too have left remembrances of a once impossibly difficult time in our not-too-distant past. From these little keepsakes we see the human spirit is quite resilient and forever hopeful.
The first is a delicate small fan, not unlike a cocktail fan, known by the name of a Wagasa. Look closely and you will see a familiar character; the symbol of Camel cigarettes. These delicate little fans were created using the only spare items available-in this case cigarette packages. It took great patience and a fine delicate handwork to create one of these. Even though it now resembles a little mai tai cocktail fan it has far more to say to us. Behind the stark wooden walls of an internment camp in the desert an unknown human spirit lived and created such beauty with whatever they had at hand while they patiently waited to see if their lives would, at some unknown point, resume and in what manner.
I also invite you to look at a tiny deck of cards, pictured below. Each one hand inscribed and beautifully drawn by my father during a perilous escape from Nazi Europe to Palestine, which was a beacon of safety and promise to Jews. This was a working deck of cards created from mini cigarette packages available during WWII. You can see a handwritten inscription in Latin on just one card, the Ace of Spades, Athlit, November 13, 1940. It is a poem and prayer by Horace, the Roman poet.
By then my father had been on that boat between 9-12 months. Those desperate souls were left on board a Turkish coal ship for many, many months. This was not a passenger ship. The bathrooms consisted of “walking the plank” and squatting out over the ocean in full view. There were no private rooms, just a large open space for coal storage. The “rooms” were created by internal scaffolding. This was an exodus boat headed to Israel carrying 2300 Jews from all corners of Europe. Perhaps they would be allowed to land or perhaps they would be turned back—like the St. Louis—to almost certain death. Meanwhile, those on board this boat waited and played cards together with a deck constructed of Chesterfield, Pall Mall, or Lucky Strikes packages patiently collected and artfully created. They waited as we wait.
So I look around and begin to think, what will I leave behind during this time of Covid19 to show my family that, while this isolation may seem like forever, it is actually far less. I try to embrace this time of waiting. I try not to think of the time as lost to me. It is my personal journey yes, but without the cigarettes!
It really blows my mind that people think wearing a mask in order to protect others, as well as yourself, is somehow an indication of weakness. Is it weak for soldiers to wear helmets or gas masks when necessary? Do we make fun of Law Enforcement Officers who wear bullet-proof vests? How about nurses wearing masks, gowns, and face shields?
I guess only sheep and cowards use seat belts when driving and, really, who cares when food has reached its expiration date? It’s only a number, right?
Have I ever mentioned my belief Trump supporters are some of the dumbest idiots to ever “walk” this planet? For them, everything is politicized and science has no place in their understanding of how the world works. I’d pity them, but it seems they’re bound and determined to drag us down with them. Let’s not comply. Wear your mask in public. Let’s mitigate and bring this beast under control, which we may have to do without the assistance or coordination we might ordinarily expect from the Feds, seeing as how we have an incompetent boob at the top.
It’s still kind of mind-blowing to me how many people don’t seem to understand the argument for wearing a mask while we’re struggling to contain this virus pandemic. While it’s true the CDC and others have changed their recommendation over time, this is not something new. Because the Corona Virus is so new (hence the name “novel”) there’s very little we can say about it with any certainty.
For instance, it’s still unknown if exposure, infection, and survival confers any kind of immunity from another, subsequent infection. If it doesn’t, then antibody testing isn’t going to tell us much of anything useful. We’re just discovering that it affects children more than we had previously thought, and we’ve also discovered the virus affects far more than merely the pulmonary system.
While it seems to me it was always a good idea to wear a mask in public once this thing had spread far enough to make containment impossible, I can understand why—when there is a shortage of masks available for our front-line healthcare workers—the authorities would suggest we not wear masks, at least not the kind that are used in medical settings. That makes sense given how important those workers are, and how important it’s been to not overwhelm our healthcare system.
Now that we know more about how it spreads, I think there are a lot of people who don’t appreciate the concept of droplets and aerosols. I have an experience that I always wondered whether or not I would be able to share without sounding a bit daffy. I think it’s apropos now, however.
I believe it was in 2015, when I had returned as a contractor to the place I had retired from five years prior. I had to drive east to get there and west to return home. I distinctly remember coming home one evening, driving into the sunset. I had a Plantronics wireless earpiece, so I could talk on my phone while driving. As I was talking normally, I could see dozens and dozens of small droplets spraying out of my mouth with the enunciation of certain sounds. It was a bit disconcerting as I’d never noticed just how sloppy we are when we’re just speaking, let alone coughing or sneezing.
Bottom line is this; as long as we don’t have a vaccine, nor a known, useful treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the Corona Virus SARS-CoV-2, we need to take steps to mitigate its spread. Not necessarily to keep everyone from being exposed, but (at the very least) to spread out (flatten the curve) it’s path of infection to prevent such rampant disease that we are incapable of handling it and thousands die because we just don’t have the necessary medical infrastructure, tools, supplies, and equipment to keep our healthcare workers safe.
I know some think wearing a mask makes them look like a dork but, in my less than humble opinion, if you’re too self-centered to realize wearing one is in everyone’s best interests because it goes a long way to preventing you from spreading the virus, in case you’re infected yet asymptomatic, then you actually are a dork . . . or something much worse.
If interested, and you want to learn more about how this deadly virus spreads, here’s a great article ‘splaining it for you.
Weird how a lying grifter deeply beholden to Russian oligarchs and their mafia, a serial rapist and abuser who’s been married three times and cheated on each of his wives, a traitor who is busy dismantling the government (not that it couldn’t use an overhaul) and selling it piecemeal to the highest bidder, a selfish, egotistical, narcissistic imbecile who trashes the Constitution he doesn’t understand or care about on a daily basis . . .
The photo on the bottom has haunted me for 50 years. Not that I think about it every day . . . or even every year, but over a half century it’s come to mind far more times than I would have liked. So, when I saw the top picture on my phone, it instantly evoked the extra-judicial execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém. I needed to do this to stop thinking about it. Too much thinking about death lately. 😕
I wonder if this pandemic, and our response to it, will change how seriously we take ourselves. If you’ve been watching television—and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume most everyone is—you may have noticed some changes in much of live news and late night programming. Since nearly everyone who’s reporting is at home, by themselves, it’s obvious that the women anchors, reporters, and pundits are having to do their own hair and makeup. Regardless of how well they might do it, it’s not the same and it’s noticeable. I haven’t noticed how much, if any, makeup the men are wearing, but I have noticed a whole bunch of them has decided it’s not worth shaving right now (I’m one of them.)
So . . . what I’m wondering is, after we are able to return to some semblance of a normal life, where we can gather again so that newscasters and performers can return to the studio, when knowledge workers can return to their cube farms . . . will we? Better yet, should we? I spent the last few years of my career at Rocketdyne working from home. I’d like to think I was at least as productive, if not more so, than I was when I was going in to the office each day.
When I first started working there, I wore a suit and tie each and every day. By the time I left, the only time I wore a tie was if the “customer” (usually NASA) was visiting and we had to blow smoke up their asses. Knit polo shirts and chinos became acceptable and, on Fridays, everyone wore denim. I’d like to think one of the lessons we’ll glean from this (and there will be dozens, no doubt) is that we can be a lot more casual and still perform at a high level. And there are numerous ways to communicate, connect, and collaborate, especially if we’re not hamstrung by unnecessary and awkward notions of propriety.
No matter what happens as we are coming out of this crisis, we should never settle for returning to the status quo ante. We need to think of humans and our societies as living organisms; as interconnected and interdependent systems. When some of us are suffering, we must recognize it as an insult to all of us.
“We’re all in this together” doesn’t stop being true when this pandemic is “over.” It remains true except for those idiotic and stubborn people who still believe in rugged individualism as the ideal condition for humans to follow. In my opinion, that model is a recipe for disaster for all but people who live in the woods and, even then—with the exception of people like Ted Kaczynski—if they take advantage of roads, communication channels, and the efforts of entities like the US Forest Service, etc. they’re part of the gestalt that is humanity.
A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook. It was posted by someone who I don’t know, and his name isn’t important here, but the quote is useful and is what prompted me to write what I did above:
“Indeed, you have to wonder if the virus is so very different from extractive capitalism. It commandeers the manufacturing elements of its hosts, gets them to make stuff for it; kills a fair few, but not enough to stop it spreading. There is no normal for us to go back to. People sleeping in the streets wasn’t normal; children living in poverty wasn’t normal; neither was our taxes helping to bomb the people of Yemen. Using other people’s lives to pile up objects wasn’t normal, the whole thing was absurd. Governments are currently busy pouring money into propping up existing inequalities, and bailing out businesses that have made their shareholders rich. The world’s worst people think that everybody is going to come out of this in a few months and go willingly back into a kind of numbing servitude. Surely it’s time to start imagining something better.”
~ Frankie Boyle
I was also sent a link to a wonderful essay in The Guardian’s “The Long Read” collection. I recommend it highly, though it is a long read. I’m memorializing it partly because I want to return to it and re-read it, perhaps numerous times. I see it as a booster to help me continue to advocate for fundamental structural change in our economy and our society. Our culture.
Here’s a quote, though there are so many useful ones in this particular essay, it’s hard to pick only one:
The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected. In fact, disasters, I found while living through a medium-sized one (the 1989 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area) and later writing about major ones (including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan), are crash courses in those connections. At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.
I often think of these times as akin to a spring thaw: it’s as if the pack ice has broken up, the water starts flowing again and boats can move through places they could not during winter. The ice was the arrangement of power relations that we call the status quo – it seems to be stable, and those who benefit from it often insist that it’s unchangeable. Then it changes fast and dramatically, and that can be exhilarating, terrifying, or both.
Finally, here’s a link to the article itself. Read it. You won’t regret it.
Today’s COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. jumped 45% over the previous high, which was last Friday. As of a few minutes ago, there were still about six or seven states (and D.C.) that have yet to report their identified cases and deaths, but they shouldn’t add significantly to the overall figure as they’re smaller states, population-wise, that have yet to see a real outbreak.
I cried a little today, watching a couple of tributes to police officers who died from this virus. One was a woman, the other a couple who had both retired and were just beginning to enjoy being together. They died within a week of each other. None of them were able to have family with them during their last moments, though the woman’s family were able to record their last thoughts and have them played to her, even though she was unconscious. It was reported that she experienced an elevated heart rate while they were playing them.
Since nobody has truly come back from the dead yet (sorry, Jesus. Hit me up if you return “again,” please) we’ll never know if that wasn’t actually more painful for her emotionally or whether it uplifted her spirits. I wish we could know how she felt in those last moments. I want to believe she was comforted by hearing the voices of her loved ones. I know that’s what the HCWs had to be thinking. I’m having a hard time dealing with imagining what everyone is going through. It’s difficult when you’re empathetic. There’s going to be a lot of PTSD in this country when this is finally put behind us.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.