God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise


by Roxanne Tellier

There’s only a few more weeks left of summer, before we get that Fall-ing feeling again.

That’s quite a while, in these troubled times. Kind of makes you wonder how different our world will look by then. After all, it’s certainly seemed like every day for the last few years has been an endless, nauseating, roller coaster ride. Fires, floods, droughts, plagues, economic turmoil, murder hornets – kind of frightening to think what might be next.

Take, for instance, daily life since March 2020. Experts say that if the United States had just followed three simple rules – wash your hands, keep a social distance from others, and when you can’t, wear a mask – it could have prevented at least 90% of the deaths of the 163,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 to date.

Which seems a pretty small ’ask,’ really. But somehow, that little, common-sense ask got politicized and weaponized. Now, those who are just as likely to become ill or die from this virus as those whom they disdain for being ‘sheeple,’ are in equal danger from the great unwashed and unmasked. Strangely, the virus doesn’t ask to see your voting preferences, or your SAT scores.

When the first trickles of information began dribbling in, back in March, about a new and potentially deadly epidemic being on its way, most people were motivated to go into ‘self-protection’ mode. A lot of us spent a lot of money on canned goods, medications, and toilet paper. Masks were hard to find, and even those cheap paper masks, like you’d wear at a doctor’s office, were a little pricey. But that was okay, because no one knew what would happen next in this ‘novel’ corona virus. We were playing it by ear. Most would prefer to be safe than sorry.

You’d have thought that preppers, and those who have been anticipating some sort of apocalyptic, dystopic, end of days would have been delighted to have a chance to give their hoards and bunkers a work out. But surprisingly few were enthusiastic about weathering an ACTUAL crisis.

Still, people coped. Those who survived the Great Toilet Paper Wars got crafty, with some generous souls showing others how a simple mask could be fashioned from just about any material, for next to nothing. Others got smart, and figured out how to turn a buck by selling their fashion masks to non-crafty people for major coin.

Predictably, trump decided that he had to be the figurehead in the fight against this ‘invisible enemy’ that he dubbed the China Virus. His meddling only roiled the waters, drove his cult to new heights of insanity, lead the gullible to drink bleach, and put the lives of those attempting to save American lives in danger.

All things considered, Canada has been pretty good, in a minimal sense, during this crisis. Really, I don’t blame anyone, either in government or in the sciences, for a response that has been merely ‘good.’ None of us – not even the most knowledgeable scientists, researchers, or doctors, even specialists in virology or respirology – could have anticipated all that we’ve come to learn about this particular virus, even within the last six months. It is NOVEL – and that means, it’s never happened before. Some nations had generic pandemic responses in place, and ready to go (notably, trump had disbanded those offices in the US long before the epidemic began) but what they had to work with on this new infection basically amounted to “Don’t forget your towel.”

But I do say minimal, because, both in Canada and the US, there was a serious lack of governments able to ‘say what they mean and mean what they say.’ It was clear, right from March, that controlling a world wide pandemic was going to take a steely will, and a populace that understood not only the seriousness of the disease, but the need to pull together, as nations, and as humanity, in order to beat the infection into submission.

In those countries with a strong right-wing political arm, even here in Canada, with a Liberal prime minister, there was a fear that actually letting the populace know the extent of the potential danger might cause the worst human traits to emerge – selfishness, hoarding, and panic.

They also worried that ‘telling people what to do’ as in, mandating the use of masks for the good of public health, would be – and sadly, is – considered governmental over-reach.

The nations that took that mandate seriously – all of which, strangely, had women leaders – did the best. Their people tightened their belts, stayed home, wore the masks, and took the economic hit, early in Phase One. Those countries are back to almost normal.

But those countries governed by a male, right wing leader, sadly, took the biggest hits, lost the most people, and continue to struggle as summer fades, and we begin to dread the very real possibility that a Second Wave hitting this winter, combined with seasonal cold and flus, could completely overwhelm available health care, resulting in a new tsunami of unnecessary illness and deaths.

For those of us who are lucky to be least affected by this pandemic, it’s often hard to grasp the magnitude of the disease, the suffering of those that fall to it, and, perhaps even worse than mere death, the possibility of having one’s heart, lungs, liver, and/or kidneys be significantly and permanently impaired, despite having ‘survived’ a full-fledged bout of COVID.

For those on pensions or governmental benefits, those who were able to work from home with little problem, and those in high levels of management, both business and political, there has been a very minor discomfort involved with the pandemic. If anything, the drop in foot and car traffic has been a boon. The middle class are not in peril.

But minimum wage employees, the ‘essential workers’ who were the ones called upon to ensure that the wheels kept turning, and that the groceries, pharmacies, and beer stores stayed open, those people were the ones that were sent out as ‘tributes’ to the disease.

Health care workers, including ambulance drivers, EMTs, nurses and doctors are very much represented in the list of the fallen as well. 

To that, we’ll soon be adding our children, their teachers, all of the support staff in the schools, and, of course, those the children will be physically closest to, their families.

Meanwhile, no upper management, and certainly very, very few political representatives, have returned to work. And even those who do, do so with extreme reluctance, and caution, along with demands that more attention be paid to the protection of their health, than to the job they’re hired to do.

I blame both the government, AND the media, for not doing what they have done so well in past national crises – putting a human face to the fear, anger, pain and uncertainty that the populace are experiencing. By essentially turning a blind eye to the emotional component of the pandemic, by focusing on the numbers of the dead, over the number of the ill or recovering, they’ve enabled an open season on the kind of anti-science and anti-mask sentiment that has been instilled in so many.

And for a huge proportion of those actively disseminating lies, half-truths, and propaganda – you’ve got to blame social media, and the trolls, bots, and right-wing operatives who lurk there, spreading these dangerous falsehoods to the gullible.

There are human beings behind those numbers of ill, recovering, and deceased. And yet, very few people within my own social circle know more than one of the deceased, personally.  

BREAKING: Darwin Awards for 2020 cancelled
due to too many competitors.

And because there’s been so little footage and reportage of how gruesome it is to become ill from COVID, so little information about those who have spent weeks, or months, in hospital, on a ventilator, attempting to recover, there’s a huge mass of unmasked, ignorant, and woefully uninformed, future Darwin Award winners, out in public, putting us all in danger of catching the virus.

It’s denial, just like people experience when they are told that they or a loved one has a terminal illness. First, there’s denial, a jaw-dropping recognition that this bad thing can happen to ME, despite my being ME.. Denial, and then anger, that it’s happening to ME.

Happens all over the planet, several times a day. But the difference in this particular diagnosis – and one shared with those who refuse to accept that the climate is changing – is that, instead of having a kindly doctor, or someone you trust and respect, guiding you through this horrible realization, and helping you to make good decisions on how to proceed, there’s half a planet willing to tell you lies about what happens next, and how you’re really over-reacting. It will all be fine. Most of those voices denying reality do NOT have your best interest top of mind.

And governments that are urging schools to reopen, in the name of the economy, are really, really, really not looking out for your best interest, or your child’s.

We’ve gotten used to a way of thinking that doesn’t really differentiate between jobs we want to do, and slave labour. Either way, the average workie is beholden to their position, until they can find something better. So, if the government decides that greasing the economy’s wheels means that anyone without big money or big power had better get their shoulder back to the wheel, the workers are going to have to do so, regardless of their health concerns.

For many, this means that they’ve got to get the kids back to school so that the adults can get back to work, and keep an income flowing, in order to keep their place in the economic order. Keeping a roof over one’s head, keeping food in everyone’s belly – those are basic needs for everyone.

While parents try to parse through the logistics, they’re being bombarded with distractions, and coaxed to believe that the advantages of socialization of the kids outweighs the very real possibility that the physical return to school will not only be dangerous for all concerned, but that the new constraints on behaviour within the classes may turn their children against the idea of schooling permanently.

And that means that parents, despite their fears of what might happen, what will ensue down the line, when the kids inevitably bring home illness for the whole family to share, are fighting back the anxiety that is telling them that using their precious children as the canaries in the COVID coalmine is insanity, and doomed to failure.

Our children are our future. Our children need education, but they need to live long enough, hopefully with live parents, to graduate and join the work force themselves at some point. THAT is how economies work. Sacrificing our young to keep today’s economy going is surrendering the nation’s economic future.   

Saddest of all, it’s looking like even those in charge know that they’re really only throwing your kids’ lives against the wall to see what sticks. They already know that there will be illness, amongst the students and staffs, and that the logistics of trying to keep the kids apart, and wearing masks, is a near-impossibility.  

Reading between the lines, even those most adamant for the kids to return to school are well aware that the odds greatly favour closure of those same schools sooner rather than later. Such a lot of worry, time and money wasting, all to feed the economic machine.

Yes, none of us knows what will be, although all of us think we’d like a quick peek at the future.

For now, we wait, disempowered, disenfranchised, and disoriented at the dizzying changes to our world in this Year of Our Lord 2020.

See you in September, the good lord willing, and the creek don’t rise..

Your bonus video. “ The Dumbest Man in America”

Dear Old COVID School Days


by Roxanne Tellier

When you’re a kid that is being bullied, the only thing you can really do is wait for the day that the bully graduates and finally leaves you alone.

I got bullied A LOT in school. I was always the scrawny street rat. My sister, five years younger, was even scrawnier. We were poor, lived in a rough neighbourhood, and for a few years, had only the protection of a single mum, in a world where two parents were the norm. We weren’t very well dressed, and didn’t have the kind of clothes the ‘cool kids’ wore. We were ‘different.’ I spent a lot of time defending Jodi from bullies of her own age, and then went to class, and dealt with my own bullies.

In the fifties and sixties, kids were expected to suck it up, pretty much. If we told an adult, we were ‘tattle tales.’ If a bigger kid hurt us, and we cried, grownups usually just told us to  ‘grow a pair,’ ‘get over it,’ if you can’t take this, how will you survive in the real world?’ Schools tended to turn a blind eye, if the bully was someone on a sports team, a “Big Man on Campus.” It was just expected that those big kids would need to ‘blow off some steam,’ and if you got in their way, well, you should have known better. That toilet swirlie was totally your own fault, Pointdexter.   

Did you know that there is actually a ‘type’ of personality that bullies, sexual predators, and serial killers prefer to prey upon? It’s usually the outsider, the one that’s not like the others. The one that doesn’t have a lot of friends. They’ll be the introvert, with a heightened sensitivity to ridicule. Quiet by nature, these kids tend to be highly vulnerable to conflict, and are prone to sustaining life-long trauma from experiences that another child might just laugh off.  

This type of person grows up to be a little fearful of authority, since appeals for justice rarely helped, in their view. Even as adults, they’ll be the quieter, shyer person in the office, the one who seems passive, a little weak. They may feel insecure, and that they are inferior to others.

A bully smells that kind of personality from miles away. They see the averted gaze, the fidgety hands and feet of their prey, and will zero in with surgical precision.

If, lord help you, you married a bully in those days, the police would be of no help; domestics were left to households to sort out on their own. Windows adorned with lace curtains would often conceal the battered woman within.

Many bullies grow up to become abusive spouses and parents. Since they generally have an inflated sense of self, and believe that they are superior to others in all ways, a captive audience at home is a real gift. After eight hours of office bullying, they’re happy to go home and kick around the partner/kids/pets. Since they believe themselves ‘above it all’ by virtue of superiority, they see nothing wrong with terrorizing the occupants of their home. This type of bully is particularly contemptuous of any person, adult or child, who challenges their opinions and beliefs.

The worst kind of grown up bully is the sociopath. They are the most destructive creatures of all, with a complete lack of empathy for anyone but themselves. Experts at manipulating the emotions of others, they tend to somehow still rise to positions of power, where their cruelty is often aided and abetted by those who sense that they can ride his coattails to move up the ranks as well. 

The very worst kind of bully is a narcissistic sociopath who grows up and is elected as the head of a nation, surrounds himself with other bullies, and then torments the most vulnerable people until he is finally deposed. Usually with extreme prejudice.

“Love hurts. Love scars. Love wounds and marks any heart not tough or strong enough.”

I often think about how we baby boomers survived our formative years. Those years and attitudes shaped us, and made us into the men and women we are today, in our sixties and seventies. Many of us have never really progressed, emotionally, from those days.

While today’s kids are raised by ‘helicopter parents,’ entertained with high end game systems (that Dad uses after they’ve gone to bed) and are taught in schools where aggressiveness is discouraged, bullies are expelled, and corporal punishment is but a distant memory, Grammy and Grampa often still carry a very different image of what it means to be a child and student.

The harsh and severe ways children endured in classes in the past is not at all what kids today expect or receive. So, when Grammy and Grampa are encouraging the grandkids to pull up their big boy or big girl pants, stop being such little wusses, put on a mask, and head off to school in this time of COVID, Grammy and Grampa are talking thru their blue hair. And they’re wrong.

Within the Conservative government (in Canada) and the Republican party (in the US) there is an impassioned need for a restarting of the economy. I mean, we all want things to get back to ‘normal,’ but it’s the right leaners who hit that gong the hardest, because, frankly, they have nothing else to tout. Neither the CONS nor the GOP have anything good to hold up to the average person when elections roll around, because they spend most of their time in office in partisan fights over how best to defund and privatize entities put into place by much leftier leaning governments in the past.

So – the economy is their shining idol, their Golden Calf. It is only by pointing to a healthy GDP, and a galloping stock market (which helps, primarily, only those with money to invest) that they can justify their time in office.

Since the onset of COVID, right leaning politicians in the ‘Free World’ have attempted to deflect from the seriousness of the illness. Trump, Pence, most of the GOP, along with Boris Johnson in the UK, and Bolsonaro in Brazil, have decried the use of masks, literally embracing patients, ill with the virus, as though their manly manliness would protect them from infection. BoJo found out the hard way that he was wrong. So did Bolsonaro. Trump and Pence have so far escaped the disease, but several of their admin have succumbed, with Herman Cain, once a presidential hopeful, passing away just this week, after attending a trump rally, maskless.

What do all of these (male) politicians have in common? They are all baby boomers, raised with that rough and tumble, let the chips fall where they may, suck it up, boys will be boys mentality. AND – they are all leaders of countries where COVID got a good strong toe hold early on, and refuses to let go. (Although the UK is doing better than either the US or Brazil, perhaps because it is a smaller, island nation.)

We’ve heard a lot about trump’s insistence on schools reopening in the US this fall. Regardless of reality, science, or the growing death toll, trump believes that it is only by sacrificing children, teachers, administrators and support staff that he can bring back his vaunted economy. So .. into the volcano they must go, to take their places with the ambulance drivers, EMT techs, nurses, and doctors that died because of a lack of protective gear.  

Under the pretext of being in the best interests of children, the GOP in the US are claiming that it is only by the grace of teachers in their schools that many American children are fed, soothed, get health care, are monitored for physical for sexual abuse, and are, overall, protected from harm.

However, schools and teachers in the US have been consistently underfunded, year after year, to the point where these same underpaid teachers are often subsidizing not only the needs of their classrooms, but of their students. And that’s not right, not in a country that can hand over trillions to corporate interests without blinking.

The gun trump’s holding to the heads of the parents of the students is that the children must be physically present in school, or he’ll take away all funding … unemployment, school funding, lord knows what else. He’s a bully, so he’s prepared to take it all, and leave them nothing, not even enough to bury their precious children.

I ask myself – how many Americans need to be sacrificed to the Republican Gods of Ignorance, before they are satisfied? Is it a half million? A million? Ten million men, women and children who never needed to die, had trump taken a firm leadership role from the beginning, and lead from the front, instead of bullying from the rear? 

The only leadership America has at all on how to deal with the virus is the venerable Dr Anthony Fauci, and rather than heed and respect his advice, trump and his goons prefer to pick fights with him, and bully this man with so much more knowledge than they’ll every acquire in their lifetimes.

Fox’s snippy little Pekinese, the smarmy Tucker Carlson, has this to say about a disgusting attack upon Fauci from Jim Jordan, a hyperactive jerk and ex-jock who appears to be the poster boy for steroid abuse, exemplifying the sort of discourteous disrespect trump encourages amongst his little band of incompetent trolls and ogres.

Meanwhile, a feckless Republican party looks on, mouth breathing, refusing to extend financial protections to the 54 million unemployed Americans, 28 million of them in danger of becoming homeless, and swans off for a long summer weekend, while thousands line up at food banks, desperate for a handout. Every single member of the GOP is complicit in the abuse of American citizens.

It’s like a horrific, real life Truman Show. They are ‘experimenting’ … making American children, students, the canaries in the COVID coal mine. We know what will happen, but for some reason, these fiends want to see the dead bodies for themselves. Some of the most vulnerable Americans – children, seniors, the homeless, the disabled, those that most need federal help – are the pawns in this grotesque reality show, where the millions in cash prizes only flow upwards to trump supporters.  

American children, the poor, and minorities are being abused by the most powerful man on the planet. It’s tantamount to genocide. It’s a death cult, where trump is playing the role of Jim Jones, and COVID is the Kool-Aid.

It was revealed this weekend that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser, who had assumed a role in the White House’s pandemic response, oversaw a secret project to devise a comprehensive plan that would have massively ramped up and coordinated testing for COVID-19 at the federal level.

That response was abandoned in March, however, apparently because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert. (Vanity Fair, August 1, 2020)

Trump suppressed access to test-kits, forcing the states to bid against each other to acquire test-kits on the world market.

Apparently Kushner and his band of merry psychopaths were unaware that there are Republicans, trump voters, in all 50 states, even the blue ones. But his actions, apparently with the approval of the trump administration and leadership, prove that no one – not even the most fanatical, gun-toting, Confederate flag-waving, MAGA wearing, trump cultist is safe from either COVID-19 or the sadistic, self-centered, cruelty of the White House occupant.

Pande-Malaise


by Roxanne Tellier  

Got an email from a friend the other day, headed “Enough already!”  Like so many of us – especially we older folks – she’s sick and tired of being locked down, exasperated with the conflicting information we’ve received, really scared of leaving her home unless it’s absolutely necessary, and furious with the scoffers who put her health in danger with their refusal to wear a mask.  

Really doesn’t help that we’ve had a lot of very hot days in the last few weeks. Everything’s a little worse when the heat sets in, and you’ve spent far more time with the same person than you ever counted on doing, way back when you first hooked up, and you both had lives, and jobs to go to.

Combine that with any amount of time on social media, and it’s a recipe for disaster, divorce, or defenestration. Gonna have to go on a diet, cut way back on my media, social or terrestrial, before I blow a fuse.

I’m just not made for these times, but, here’s the thing, though … nobody in today’s citizenry is really mentally equipped to handle months and months of isolation, waiting in lines, sacrificing, or accommodating crazy conditions, or for rallying around a flag in support of their nation. Our parents were, but that was then, and not at all like now, when the rallying cry and demand that one’s personal rights be respected is drowning out the cries of those actually fearful of becoming sick or dying. And those cries jockey for place with the cries for social justice, equality, an end to police brutality, and the need for a haircut and somewhere to enjoy a cold beer.

In many places in the world, strong leadership and a compliant citizenry have beaten back the worst of this modern plague. The key is to stay vigilant, and to follow the public health guidelines. Little by little, we’re moving in the right direction.

Not so in the US, natch, where the Feckless Leader has politicized the infectious disease, and has been rewarded with the deaths of nearly 130,000 Americans. After months of downplaying the seriousness of this pandemic, and sloughing the jobs off onto his sycophantic state governors, the new talking point out of the White House is that Americans “need to live with it.”

Apparently, trump has now realized that this bug is not going away so easily, and might still be a problem in November, when he hopes to be re-elected. Top officials are therefore pushing the need for life to move forward, regardless of reality, all in an effort to try and force the economy back to pre-pandemic days.

The virus is with us, but we need to live with it.

Hmm.. I think I’d rather avoid getting a terrible disease by doing a few simple things, like washing my hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing But hey… you do you.

The cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease,” trump intoned, by which he meant that he needed you guys – the voters, the essential workers – to get out there and get the economy restarted so that he could brag about it, and get re-elected. He sure as heck wasn’t gonna go be a greeter at WalMart or load a truck. And he never, ever cared if going out there got you killed. Not his problem, he kept telling you.

Talking points. Grand scale bull pucky. Lies, fantasy, magical thinking, “And then one day, it will just go away, like a miracle.” Seems a tad naïve coming from a 74 year old.

But sadly – too many of his adoring fans buy what he’s selling. It’s all branding, his words get repeated like they’re gospel, and like good little monkeys, the cultists swallow the dis- and misinformation they’re fed.

We gotta stop this, folks. Time to STOP with the retweeting and share of his moronic pronouncements, the pictures of his giant butt with a suspicious stain on the crotch, the inane flag and daughter molesting … yeah, it’s funny to you because you don’t like the guy, or his supporters, but all you’re doing is reinforcing his importance in their eyes.

Remember that it was the billions of dollars worth of free publicity given to him by mainstream and social media that won him the office in 2016! Repeating his name, showing his photo, making a fashion idol of his wife and daughter… and noting his lack of ability to be a hundred per cent sure which is which… is not helping. People are stupid. They have a lot to do, a lot to see, they’re working, they’re dealing with their lives, and you repeating his name over and over like it’s gonna summon CandyMan just gives more credence to him, in their eyes.

“You have Donald Trump coming along and getting all this coverage without spending a dime,” said Paul Senatori, chief analytics officer at Portland-based mediaQuant.

The real estate magnate got $4.96 billion in free earned media in the year leading up to the presidential election. He received $5.6 billion throughout the entirety of his campaign, more than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio combined.

Over the past 12 months, the president-elect received more than $800 million in free earned broadcast media, compared to $666 million for Clinton, and $2.6 billion in free earned online news attention, compared to $1.6 billion for his rival. He edged out her and other major political names in American and worldwide newspapers as well.  (The Street, Nov 2016)

He’s ugly, he’s stupid, his family sucks baboons. We know. And if anyone recognizes how tempting it is to post or share another unflattering photo of that gang, it’s me. But we have to stop handing him another term.

Meanwhile, we’ve got this whole summer to get through, and some of us are having a harder time with it than others. Geez, if you’re not getting a government cheque of some kind, or doing an ‘essential worker’ job that hopefully won’t get you sick, there’s hard times and troubles a coming. I don’t think most of us realized how interconnected we all were until we got to this place in time, and for many, it’s a disaster.

DSC04279.CR2

On the other hand – refusing to face reality because it’s too negative, well, that’s a lot like pretending you’re Sandra Bullock in Bird Box. And we all know that blindfold is not gonna stop the monsters from coming.  Being willfully blind to reality is not gonna help.

Sure, it’s better to ‘think positively’ but trump’s playing cheerleader for the States hasn’t stopped 130 thousand deaths. How’s that working out for him? Or them?

There’s things we have to discuss, bloody big things, like the economy, racism and police brutality, equality, how our banking systems work, what we do with our ‘dirty’ money, how we feel about our own political systems, and what happens if things go even worse down South. All of that is not going to go away, no matter how willfully a blind eye we turn to it. In this case, thinking positively is pretty much down to having a good income regardless of the circumstances, and not caring about how others are doing. In other words… that’s privilege, bud. 

In truth, things could be worse. A lot worse. And look how much HASN’T gone wrong yet. Though I may be speaking too soon ….  

I wanna talk about how we can move forward to a new normal, because that old normal wasn’t great for very many people. Let’s shake it up, let’s talk about progress, moving forward, helping each other, building futures for our kids and grandkids, remembering that, because of COVID-19, we haven’t been really paying a lot of attention to climate change, but it never stopped while we looked away.

I’m still reeling from the realization that, while we’re just trying to get through this year, Premier Ford’s been putting into place some pretty nasty things that made ZERO sense, but that he’s claimed are important to the economy. I fail to see how allowing environmental degradation, and cutting off protections for our land and water, helps anyone but his cronies.

“On April 1, citing the pandemic, the government suspended a broad swath of environmental protection law, effectively allowing the province to push forward environmentally significant projects or policy changes — even those that don’t relate to COVID-19 — without consulting or notifying the public.”  (National Observer, May 2020)

Why? Because he could, and you were too busy just trying to survive to notice.

But on the other hand, consider this. We have a chance to change our world, to demand that it change, because ‘business as usual’ has taken a holiday. 

As my buddy Michael Scrivener and I dissected this COVIDy world over lunch the other day, (well, someone has to take it apart and put it back together PROPERLY!) we mused on the things that seemed unlikely to ever return.  Like ‘power suits,’ ties, even pants, which for some reason seems one of the first things a guy likes to divest himself of, given half a chance. Commuting – why? Who would want to suffer an hour or more on public transit, now braving far worse than the lack of a seat, or a fellow passenger’s bad breath, when one could simply plop oneself down in front of a home computer – pantless, if desired – and get started on the day with a coffee at hand that didn’t cost $5?

Even the most controlling middle manager would likely prefer to torment you by twitter or private message than to budge his middle class butt from his middle class bungalow in some much less expensive suburb far far away.

And then what about commercial real estate? Why rent an entire floor in a downtown office tower if your satellite workers are themselves paying for the roof over their heads?

Ah, you say, but what then of all those towers blocking our sight-lines?  Would they be empty vessels, swaying in the breeze?  

Well, how about the people reclaim that territory? Most of those buildings already have multiple elevator banks in place, that divvy up the floors. You could easily put the remaining office types in the higher floors, whisked up and away to their offices with expensive views, while leaving the lower floors for better usage.

Like rejigging all that lovely square footage into rent controlled apartments and rentable rooms for the homeless, the elderly, anyone who loves this city but can’t afford to live in it. Why not create floors of work and practice studios for artists, musicians, dancers? And while you’re at it…, put in some performance spaces, big and empty enough to allow social distancing.

It’s your world. The sky COULD be the limit. You wanna think positive? Start right here with what matters to you. Think about how YOU would fix this world. We need to use this ‘pause’ in the world turning to see that the old normal had quite a lot wrong with how it worked, but if we work cooperatively, and demand progressive change, we might be able to turn this Titanic disaster into a luxury cruise.

Eyes on the prize! Only you can prevent Kanye West from becoming president!

I Me My Narcissism


by Roxanne Tellier

Richard Nixon gave a defiant concession speech in 1962 that ended with …. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

The incredible narcissism and entitlement in that statement, coming from a man that was lucky not to have been tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail, still sends a frisson up my spine.

Had Nixon not heeded the potentates of his own party who advised him to resign, he would surely have been impeached by the House and removed from office by a trial in the Senate for his complicity in the Watergate burglary and ensuing coverup. As it was, 69 of his cronies were indicted, and 48 of those people were convicted and penalized.

Watergate came to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration, including bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious; ordering investigations of activist groups and political figures; and using the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency,  and the Internal Revenue Service as political weapons.”  (Wikipedia)

Man – trump’s reign of terror is not just history rhyming, that’s a whole poetry slam right there.

The common denominator? An overwhelming self-entitlement, a belief that their acts and place in history should be above the law, a willingness to use the most powerful position in America like Negan used Lucille in The Walking Dead … and malignant narcissism.

To a narcissist, the absolute worst thing that they can threaten you with is their absence. They can’t imagine the horror your life would be without them in it. Their message is “How will you cope without me in your world? I am the sun of your universe, I cannot conceive of a world without me in it, and neither should you!”

The world is filled with narcissists, not just in politics, but in big business, the sciences, the entertainment world, and in our homes.

(“Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in development of narcissistic personality disorder.”  Mayo Clinic, 2017.)

No one can definitively say what causes someone to believe that they are more important than everyone else that they know. Nonetheless, the disorder seems to be growing exponentially.

While full-bodied narcissistic personality disorder is still a fairly unusual diagnosis, the rise of reality tv, social media, and the glorification of this type of personality has upped the ante. Modern narcissism isn’t so much about the disorder as it is about the rise in narcissistic traits.

It’s been a slippery slope for those with the tendency to self-promote. Remember when we used to laugh at those people who never saw a meal they couldn’t find a way to photograph, glorify and show their friends and followers on Facebook? When Instagram came along, narcissists were in their glory, showing off their clothing, homes, and vacations, all so that those with less would feel envious.  

The more we abandoned any pretence of humility, the more the spotlight shone on our deficiencies and perceived imperfections. By 2015 the waiting lists for cosmetic dentistry, plastic surgery, and alternative ‘enhancements’ were stretching around the block and two streets over.

Like needy children, we wanted everyone to ‘watch me, mommy!’ as we posed, sang, danced, and twirled before our imagined audiences. But that was just the beginning.

Many narcissists in the public eye choose to display a lack of caring for others, and a disdain for empathy, which neatly coexists with a glorification of one’s own talents and popularity.  Even the relevance of celebrity deaths, for instance, can only be understood in the context of their own loss.

When these people are informed of terrible tragedies – babies in cages at the border, the Charlie Hebdo attack, millions starving and dying from thirst and bombs in far flung countries – their concern is not for those in misery, but rather, in how to best spin their public reactions to switch the focus from those suffering, to themselves, as the ‘real victims.’ No matter how tragic an event, the narcissist only sees the calamity in the context of their own reactive wretchedness.

We used to be able to shrug off most garden variety narcissists as laughable, childish, needy creatures. But the tendency to believe that one is extraordinary (along with the obvious problem, which is that most people are simply and resoundingly NOT special) is increasing by the day.

The narcissist’s beliefs are unrealistic, but in a world where a financially and morally bankrupt ‘celebrity’ malignant narcissist can become president of the United States, how exactly do you define ‘unrealistic’?

I can’t swear that the rise of trump is tied to a rise in narcissism in North America, though I do see a through line in the rise of populist leaders, who tend to speak to the basest of our individual appetites. Three recent studies would seem to agree with that premise.

“A team of psychologists and political scientists from the universities of Kent (UK), Warsaw (Poland) and Maryland (USA) found in three studies that national collective narcissism was linked to support for populism. In the UK, collective narcissism predicted support for Brexit, in the US it predicted support for Donald Trump, and in Poland it predicted support for the populist Law and Justice party.

The study found that collective narcissism, i.e. an unrealistic belief in the greatness of the nation, increased in response to group feelings of being disadvantaged, especially when this was long lasting.

The researchers suggest that the narrative of relative disadvantage, fuelled by populist leaders, might reinforce a ‘defensive and destructive’ national perspective. Narcissistic beliefs about the in-group greatness are a way to compensate for feelings of being worse off than other groups.” (Science Daily.com)

I don’t even play a political scientist on TV. But what I DO know, is that, in the age of COVID-19, narcissists can be extremely dangerous to your health.  

During this pandemic, people have been asked to observe a few simple health precautions, to protect themselves and others. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay about 2 metres away from others.

That shouldn’t be that big a deal, or terribly hard to do. After all, all the wearing of a mask says is that the wearer recognizes their membership in their community.

But for some, covering their mouth and nose with cloth or other semipermeable material when near strangers in public settings inspires fear of an over-reaching government, and a denial of their ‘rights.’

Yes, this whole pandemic thing is a major pain in the butt. Yes, the mask can feel hot and itchy, and make your glasses fog up, while making those of us with lung issues feel claustrophobic and shorter of breath than usual.

But for many of us, there’s no real issue there. If wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and keeping surfaces sanitized to prevent a viral infection is necessary, then that’s what we’ll do. It’s not 1865, and we’re not Dr Joseph Lister trying to sell his discovery that washing hands could allow mothers to survive childbirth; this is 2020, and we should all be intelligent and mature enough to follow simple precepts that have been the norm for cleanliness and safety for over a century and a half.

But those pesky narcissists don’t think in terms of what is best for all, because they are emotionally immature. They believe that their ‘rights’ make them exempt from social norms, even during a pandemic, and they lack empathy, which leads them to believe that no one’s health but their own is of any concern.

Being a narcissist is to live inside a bubble of need and entitlement. Without the slightest concept of altruism, the life and death worries of others are just not a concern. Even when they are told that they will have to continue to live in a ‘new normal’ that means that they can’t get out to have fun with their friends, even as the European Union and other countries put the USA on a no entry list, and even as people continue to become infected .. and die … from a virus that other countries are able to control through sane public health regulations, they continue to believe that their own personal rights and freedoms supersede the personal rights and freedoms of others.

Entitlement. My rights over yours.  My needs being more needy and important than yours. My rights to be the victim superseding the actual hospitalization and death of the more vulnerable.  And if granny or mummy dies, it’s all about my loss, not her death, cuz poor little me is now an orphan!

It’s emotional bullying, and in many cases, physical bullying.  The armed militia groups dressed in army fatigues that stormed government offices to demand their rights were trampling ALL over the rights of everyone in their path. But narcissism … it’s a hell of a drug.

People who enjoy the rights, freedoms and privileges of our society do not have the right to refuse to acknowledge that other people have those same rights, freedoms and privileges. 

And there’s really nothing sadder than an over privileged narcissist finally discovering the very hard way that their personal world is not the centre of the universe.

PS… NEW Randy Rainbow! 😉

BONUS ROUND:

Are YOU a narcissist? Why not take this simple test and see!?

https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/NPI/

Beware of Darkness


by Roxanne Tellier

It’s a long weekend, and here in my little corner of the city, it’s sunny and warm, with just a gentle breeze ruffling the ferns. My ‘regular customers’ – the little birds, Blue Jays, and squirrels – have already been by for their morning treats and have now gone off to hide from the local felines. 

The local cats that I find myself hiding from are the hardcore cultists on social media. who – despite knowing that I have nothing but disdain for their claims – are still driven to send me memes and videos about conspiracy theories and their hero, trump. It’s like trump spawned an army of gaslighters to back up his prodigious stream of nonsense. I am besieged.

I am beset with anti vaxxers, anti Bill Gates-ers, the ‘plandemic’ true believers, the Mike Flynn apologists, and the swarms of cabin fevered, badly coiffed anti-COVID-ers, all of whom have chosen trump’s murderous and genocidal BizarroWorld over science, truth, or reality.  

I am hammered nonstop by these fanatics, and it’s making me crazy. I don’t want to be the bespectacled school marm, doomed to constantly interject that, “actually – that’s not at all true.” I don’t want to be the stern, uncompromising maiden aunt ‘with no sense of ha ha’ that I’m accused of being when I don’t find mis/disinformation presented as truths, funny. And I don’t want to be the Chris Hedges of the conversation, whose every observation reeks of doom and gloom.

And I really don’t want to be the person that points out that someone that YOU may hold dear, has actually gone batshit crazy, and needs an intervention.  I don’t have your history with that person, so I don’t see them with loving eyes – I see them without the rose-coloured glasses … and your dear friend or loved one is behaving irrationally and irresponsibly.

Mostly, I don’t want to ever feel that I did anything to hurt another human’s health, by adding to the complete confusion that has come along with the concerted efforts of trump’s re-election efforts, fueled by the trolls and Russian based troll farms that are spreading these lies, meant to lure people out of lockdown and into danger.  

Anyone who thinks that they are alone in despising the changes done to their everyday lives by this pandemic needs to check their narcissism; if there are two or three people somewhere unaffected and giggling, no one has time to dig down deep enough to find them. And anyone who believes that their ‘rights’ include the possibility of infecting others is abjectly and irredeemably selfish. As the saying goes, the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

In crisis, our characters are revealed; we are not what we claim, but what we do. If you are portraying yourself as a people-loving, hippie type, but you use your hippie cred to disseminate a meme about how America was ‘in the middle of a pandemic in 1969’ but  “Instead of shutting everything down, and ruining people’s lives, they held Woodstock,” you are spreading the ‘fake news’ gospel. You are claiming that the current coronavirus pandemic is a product of the media spreading unnecessary fear and panic. But you’re being sneakier than trump or his gang, in that you’re wrapped in a peace flag, in an attempt to appeal to that gauzy nostalgia loved by baby boomers.

Sneakier still, the group you are teasing with the memories of heady freedom, complete with ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ are the group deemed most vulnerable; seniors, often with multiple comorbidities. The Woodstock meme is the pied piper of pensioners.

(In fact, Woodstock took place months after the first season of the Hong Kong flu had ended in the United States, when it was believed that the virus was gone. ) 

And even after the truth is exposed, and the premises of the memes are debunked, those people prone to spreading misinformation tend to really double down. They will not be denied. They’ll arm-wrestle you to the ground in defense of their beliefs.

In truth, we’re all confused. We’re all hating being locked in and away from our loved ones, and we’re all starved for contact, and for some real, unbiased information, something we can pin our hopes and our futures upon. We want a return to what we used to call normal, even though that normal recedes further into the distance with every passing day.

A call to arms, like the ‘plandemic’ video misinformation, or like the Woodstock meme, gives us the false hope that all we have to do is be brave in order to be able to take some acceptable societal measures, like reopening the cities.

Is it really necessary for anyone to remind those people how many of the previously ‘brave’ now lie in coffins in the ground? We have over 5700 Canadians dead to date. Based on the current numbers, we’ll have over 100,000 dead Americans by next week. Perhaps a little less ‘bravery’ is in order.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

On a lighter note, I can’t help but feel that President Obama’s wonderful speeches yesterday, delivered virus free to American graduates, were like opening a window and letting the clean, sweet May air flow into the house. 

Words of optimism, of hope, of pride in oneself and in one’s nation, without a single whine or brag – ah, it’s been a long, long time since we heard such kindness. In all of 2020 so far, at least we had that hour.

In that spirit, let’s take a little ‘prance’ down the Memory Lane of lively, happy, bubble gum pop songs with no agenda beyond making us smile. Everybody dance!

1910 Fruitgum Company … Simon Says

Bobby Sherman Easy Come Easy Go

Friend and Lover  Reach out of the Darkness

The Archies  Sugar Sugar

Tommy Roe  Dizzy 

The Ohio Express  Yummy Yummy Yummy

The Partridge Family – I think I Love You

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend!

Your Money or Your Life


by Roxanne Tellier

“2020 is a unique leap year,” surmised David Wessel, an economic researcher, on Twitter. “It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March and five years in April.”

Oh yes indeed – there’s been five years in April and May might age me another ten. Ain’t nobody having much fun anymore.  

Have you noticed how fluid time has become since stay at home orders were instituted in March?  Last week Shawn lost a full day, and was living his Friday on Thursday. Not that we’re doing anything different on a Friday as opposed to a Thursday these days, but it’s still a little discombobulating.

Time is how we measure change, so when we are living in a time when little changes, we become unmoored from the concept.  It is as though we were astronauts, floating weightless in space; there are no borders here. 

Studies have shown that humans perceive time differently, based on whatever it is they’re doing when asked. Fear and anxiety change our perceptions. If a person is under some sort of time pressure, they may be unable to tell you if two minutes or five minutes have passed, even if they’re constantly looking at a clock to judge how much time they have left to complete a task.  We feel time differently if we’re physically stressed, with cold, or heat, when we’re depressed, or when we’re bored. And if you’re ever lucky enough to experience being ‘in the zone,’ of being totally absorbed into a project, time becomes so ethereal that it practically disappears.

Knowing how elastic time can become under varying circumstances, it becomes obvious that for some, time spent during lockdown in a pandemic can feel like it’s gone on forever, and appears to stretch ahead for weeks or months to come. Many people just can’t cope – either they want some sort of stimulation to perk themselves up, or they’re frantic that the time they’ve spent doing nothing in particular has been time wasted in a life that needs constant forward movement.

But of course, how we’re experiencing time is only half the battle. It’s the not knowing what’s next that is driving us insane. On the one hand, we’re safer staying in, and away from crowds, where the possibility of infection is high. On the other, if we have a job or business where every day is integral to the production of our product, we face the age-old conundrum; your money or your life.  

Like a back-alley mugger, COVID 19 has pointed a gun at our head, and demanded that we rethink how we earn our livings. But the problem is, the world we’re going to return to, the one that was our previous normal, no longer exists.

The local restaurants and bars we enjoyed probably didn’t sock away enough profit to survive several months of outgo with no income. Exorbitant rents, along with fixed costs of utilities, and the cost of the goods on offer will finish off the majority of Mom and Pop stores.

Public transit is so risky that we’re warned not to use it unless it’s absolutely necessary, and then only when properly masked and gloved. Travelling by air will never be the same, and I’m gonna guess most of us are not really willing to chance a ride on a cruise line’s floating petri dish.  

How will we attend movies? Sporting events? Symphonies? Jam sessions? Will some discover that they could have always avoided the morning commute by simply working at home for the majority of the time?  

There’s no going back for millions who have lost their incomes and possibly their businesses. Barring the institution of a Universal Basic Income, we are looking at a period of economic chaos unlike anything that has been seen in North America since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  

And even as we try to cope with these changes, there are some who will take this opportunity to either improve the world we live in, or to warp it so that it works even more to their benefit.

Right now, America is at a terrible crossroads. In truth, the tax cuts and trade wars that made a small portion of the population wealthy has actually stolen the rainy-day money that might have made this pandemic a little easier for people to survive. And even the money that should be available for the taxpayers who are struggling is being dripped out so slowly that many are losing hope of staying in their homes.

Constant cuts to the social networks meant to help citizens means that those institutions struggling to throw people a lifeline are already fighting from a compromised position, with their backs against the wall.  In many U.S. states, unemployment insurance was jiggered to the point where it’s almost impossible for citizens to apply for the benefit, let alone receive regular cheques. This has left far too many people with nowhere to turn.

The question then becomes – who does the average person blame for this crisis? And how do they attempt to change what they cannot easily understand, endure or accept as their new normal?   

“The victim’s need to survive is stronger than his impulse to hate the person who has created the dilemma.” Stockholm Syndrome, as described by Thomas Strentz, in his book, Psychological Aspects of Crisis Negotiation

Many people are just too tired and beaten down from fighting against their own leaders’ incursion into their rights and needs for the last several years. Lies. compounded by more lies, with disinformation and misinformation mixed, in have become our daily fare. We are so exhausted from all of the previous battles over political issues, both big and small, that now, when we really need our strength, we find there’s just nothing left in the tank.

And into that breech pours the 1%, with their hands out for yet more bailout money. There’s always money to be found for the billionaires, the cruise ships and airlines, the corporations, and the lobbyists. Even the churches are applying, and receiving armloads of cash. Wall Street is making out like a bandit. But Main Street is taking a real beating.

People have been brainwashed into believing that a thriving stock market, and a soaring number of billionaires means that their nation’s economy is thriving. But that’s never been true, because the stock market is NOT the economy.

Stocks anticipate future developments in business. They are not based on current affairs.  There is no relationship between a country’s GDP growth rate, and what will happen in the stock market. If anything, studies have found a negative correlation between the two.

While a good stock market can help with corporate assets, in practice, the tendency of management and investors to squander profit in poor decisions is more likely to tank the market. Putting funds into workers hands, so that it can circulate, is what really benefits the stock market, and that can be nice for our retirement funds. But … the stock market is not the economy.  

We are just not ourselves during crisis. We cannot think straight when we are in the grips of a ‘temporary psychosis’ – a desperate attempt of the psyche to resist a truth or a fear or a fact it cannot handle. That psychosis is what is driving so many to protest a lockdown that was instituted – against the wishes of those for whom the economy was more important than taxpayers – to save our lives.

The economy cannot exist without the millions of citizens that drive it’s engine. Without the efforts of those that are paid the least, countries would grind to a complete halt. And yet these workers are the ones that are treated with the most contempt, and who are often struggling just to make ends meet, on ridiculously low minimum wages.   

The unspoken truth is that these ‘essential workers, ‘ the ones treated so badly, are little more than the slave labour necessary to keep the 1% in control And there’s billions of willing workers, all around the planet, so if you break one, even if you murder hundreds or thousands of them, there’s always more slaves where those came from.

The fervor with which so many have greeted the false prophets and gurus of the ‘plandemic’ video and similar disinformation denotes how many have given up on logic, science, facts, or reality, as they struggle to deal with a reality that scares them to death. Sadly, a person with this psychosis can do quite a lot of damage when they are able to convince others that their paranoid suspicions just might be the truth. They tell two friends, and those two tell two friends… and so on and so on ….

They are struggling with a cognitive dissonance that overwhelms them, and their terror creates a psychotic reaction to the situation. They will not be shaken from their belief in the truth of the fantasy before them, even when the information is revealed to be twisted and untrue.

Overwhelming the audience with what is known as the ‘gish gallop,’ the viewer is bombarded with so many assertions and arguments that it becomes impossible to even keep up with the ideas, never mind refute them. And in that state of confusion we willingly walk into the slaughterhouse, and even defend those ready and waiting with the stun guns that will take us out.

We are living in a time of more confusion and uncertainty than we’ve known in a very long time, and the stakes are high. In order to survive, people need money, and to get money, they need to work. To work, the nations must re-open. But if the nations re-open before a COVID 19 treatment and/or vaccination has been produced, we may be re-injuring, and possibly even fatally damaging, our basic national economies.  

Scary times indeed. These are the times when we crave some sort of comfort, answers to the who what where why of this disaster. But even our scientists and national leaders can’t tell us with certainty what will happen next. 

Which is why so many are prepared to turn to charlatans and grifters, con men (and women) and snake oil salespeople. Using ethos, pathos and logos, and sifting in just enough plausible kernels of thought and ideas that seem possible and appeal to our intuition, the manipulator easily twists the vulnerable around their crooked little fingers.

Strange days indeed. Most peculiar, mama ……

I’ll leave you with some words of comfort and wisdom from Morgan Freeman   

Character


by Roxanne Tellier

Maybe it’s from a lack of fresh air, but I have found myself getting a little giddy lately, here in O’SheaWorld.  Also, I have had an epiphany. Turns out that the reason that I don’t do a lot of the things expected of me isn’t because there isn’t enough time, but because I’m lazy.   

Shawn and I have already done our 14-day isolation, but there’s really nowhere to go, beyond strictly controlled and policed grocery shopping. My baser instincts want me to run wild and free through the aisles of non-essential goods, but sadly, this is frowned upon in this age of plague.  

I’m sure that there are other people who have taken the quarantine as seriously as we have, but trusting others to have been vigilant takes on a whole different flavour when it’s your life you’re betting on.  

So we continue to maintain a strict protective stance, keeping our hands and the items around us as clean and as non-contaminated as possible. 

I read a lot, research a bunch, and write a little. Lately we mainly keep ourselves amused by sharing some of the best quips we read in our emails and social media. Well, mostly we just yell punchlines at each other, he from his perch in the living room to me, and my chair in the office area.

I get a massive kick out of some of the clever memes, cartoons, and songs coming out of a planet trying to come to grips with social distancing. Art will always survive. This is how we cope, laugh, learn, and search for common emotional ground.

Does this guy sum it up, or what?

And there’s no shortage of the obvious “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” parodies out there.

We chafe because it’s not ‘normal’ for our mobile society to be dealing with this crisis, each in our own little cells. Capitalism, consumerism – we are constantly reminded that our duty is to get out there and buy things, and to then compare those things to our friends and neighbours’ things, which will then drive us into a frenzy to make more money so we can buy even more things that will make our friends and neighbours jealous. It’s kind of like a game, except that nobody ever really wins, which is why we keep going to jobs, even when we don’t like the job or the people we work with. Our societal constructs keep the workers running like hamsters in an exercise wheel, right up until the day we cannot run any more.  

But now, the wheel has suddenly stopped, and many of us have fallen off.

I’ve worked in bars, owned businesses, and worked in demanding occupations, and I’m well aware that a sudden stoppage of the activities we’ve done, religiously, and with our whole heart and soul, whether we loved our jobs or not, is like hitting a brick wall at 90 miles an hour. That’s gonna leave a mark.

When it happens to others, it’s the way the world works. When it happens to us, it’s a disaster.

These are challenging times. No one is exempt from a pandemic, no matter how rich, famous, or powerful you may be. A virus doesn’t care how much you earn, though, sadly, what you earn can certainly determine how well you are treated in an American hospital.  

Often, we have run so fast, and for so long, that we’ve stopped thinking clearly. Everything is ‘just in time,’ and ‘good enough.’ We pretend that there will be more time, somehow, someday, when we will go back and fix those half-done tasks, but tomorrow never comes, and the next day’s output is as faulty as yesterdays. 

How people behave when the world is running down says so much more about them than what they say about themselves. It’s a lot like that old line about dating – how your date treats the waitstaff will tell you all you need to know about their real character.

Character. An old-fashioned word, to many, and yet it says everything about a person’s true self. It’s so easy to be a good person when things are going well. It’s another thing entirely to be composed, thoughtful, kind, and empathetic when the chips are down.

Someone who can be trusted, counted on, is solid, a mensch, a good soul, a stand-up person. We know them when we see them because their reputation for doing what’s right – not expedient – precedes them.

When you know someone who has a good, strong character, you know that they won’t flake in the crunch. They won’t turn away when you need a hard favour, they’re the first to share what ever they have, no matter how little, and they’re going to stand beside you and take your side when the rest of the world can find only fault. They might kid you when you screw up, but they won’t be in the kicking party when you’re down.

If there is someone like that in your life, cherish them. They are as rare and as precious as gold. 

Hard times make us rethink the things that we slough off in the short run. In our careers we’ll often put up with bullies, sneaks, lunch stealers, and coworkers with attitude larger than their talent, just because it’s easier to work around them than to trade up to better colleagues. Plus – a pay cheque is a pay cheque, and keeping a job – even a bad one – is easier than finding another one.

And while we might, in normal times, endure unhappy romantic relationships for fear that this bad actor is the best we can do, when the shit hits the fan, we realize that life is too short to ‘settle’ for mediocrity.   

It’s the same when we ourselves chose – even for just a moment – to abandon our own principles, to be selfish, to be a bully, or to act on an impulse that would be foreign to us when we’re feeling content and comfortable. In hard times, we have to fight the impulse to be morally lethargic, and instead, take the opportunity to bench press those principles. If our principles can be abandoned in hard times, then they were never our principles, they were only the stage dressing of our lives.

Tough times don’t last – tough people do. I am hoping that this spoke in the wheels of the world economy will slow us down for long enough to remember that character, and the maintaining of solid, honest principles, are the characteristics of those people we’d take to the end of the world, at the end of the world.

Meanwhile, the skies are bluer, the waters are cleaner, and the birds are coming home from their southern nests. Spring will come, and this too will pass.

And, while you may have the time to listen to all 16:56 minutes of the new Bob Dylan song – if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

Life is good ….

To Panic or Not to Panic


by Roxanne Tellier

To update the old saw; whether you believe we are in the middle of a global pandemic, or not – you are right.

There is plenty of ‘evidence’ to bolster either conclusion. And that, in a nutshell, is precisely at the core of our immediate dilemma; in the face of a poorly coordinated, half-hearted, largely disrespected, lack of an honest plan for moving forward, the people are the losers.

“It’s just like a cold. More people die of the flu. It’ll be all over by the spring, when the hot weather arrives. It’ll just go away.  And besides, it’s gonna mainly just go after the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.”

Man, it’s like the early days of HIV/AIDs. No one is too concerned at first, until they realize that someone they actually love is at risk. THEN it’s real.

Without strong, disciplined, bipartisan leadership, the planet is sleepwalking toward that part in the horror movie when the teenaged girls in bikinis decide that the dead of night is a great time to explore the abandoned cabin that’s perched on the cursed graveyard. No matter how much you scream ‘DON’T GO IN!” the hapless victims seem locked into their fate. 

I want people to assume that we’re overreacting because if it looks like you’re overreacting you’re probably doing the right thing.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Dr Anthony Fauci

The hard-won knowledge that is coming out of the worst infected areas is cautioning that only a complete commitment to social isolation can possibly flatline, or at least slightly flatten, an otherwise inevitably upward curve to confirmed cases, and sadly, the deaths of many.  

In actual fact, our governments have our social containment firmly in their grasps, should they decide to use their powers. Once a national emergency has been declared, there are sweeping, authoritarian-like powers that can lawfully separate people from their friends and families, or indeed, can legally order the containment and/or movement of anyone believed to have the virus, or have been exposed to it. Non-compliance of any of the constrictions could lead to fines and prosecution of scofflaws.

That would be your worst-case scenario. But whatever is to happen next, we must first have leaders in whom we have confidence. And we also have to make that giant leap in our own minds that there really is a boogieman out there, one that can not only take out our loved ones, but that can turn any one of us into an unwitting carrier that might well bring home the very disease we want to shield them from.

Even countries that have been goaded into rabid divisiveness need to get their act together. It’s time to think of the entire country as a tribe – not opposing teams – and work together to help each other out. It’s a lot harder when so many simply do not or can not believe in what they are hearing from their own governments, and instead have a sneaking suspicion that those meant to protect them, actually have more interest in either saving their own skins, or in using the opportunity to line their pockets at the peoples’ expense.

As if that mix isn’t toxic enough, add in one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus …. Baby boomers.  Now, I don’t want to say that we boomers have basically decided that we’re never gonna die – I’m just saying that we brought vinyl back when all the experts said that vinyl was as dead as the dodo. Baby Boomers that have gotten into a good job, in politics, big business, or the Market, have super glued themselves to their chairs, and have no intention of ever leaving, even if the virus DOES get them.

All things being equal, I’m not too terribly surprised at how many people are pooh poohing any kind of long-term social isolation, but hear me out – we’re more than halfway there already. With schools, libraries, live theatres, and so many other venues simply shutting their doors for the foreseeable future, why not bow to this enforced quarantine, and try to break the chain of infection?  

Not seizing the opportunity would be like throwing a fancy-dress party, but not specifying a date – in order for this to be effective, we need to be together, as a country, as a people. We need to MAKE it work, by committing to following the guidelines. How hard can it be?

If you’re trying to save the economy, that’s laudable. But these closings and shut downs are already in effect. There might not be another time when everything coincides to make it easiest to shut down for spring break, and then extend that break just long enough to get past the 14 day isolation period. Sure, I’m not happy that the live, daily shows that I enjoy will not be filmed or shown, but those people deserve to have their health considered as well – the stars and staff of those shows are not trained performing monkeys, they’re people with families and loved ones, maybe kids out of school for the duration, and they deserve that time off as much as anyone else does.

I don’t think it makes much sense to fight against that. This moment in time was fortuitous – it’s unlikely another will be in place before the summer. We have a chance to take control of a bad situation, and hopefully defeat the worst of what might be to come.

In terms of economic survival, the people I worry the most about are those who are part of the ‘gig’ economy – musicians, waiters, bartenders, Uber/Lyft drivers, and so many more who were clever enough to create jobs for themselves when no one would give them one. People who have thrown their lot in to entrepreneurialism are really going to suffer from a lack of a paycheck. They will need to be nimble and clever to ride it out. Sometimes it is in crisis that creative people come up with the next big evolutionary step in their art. Perhaps this is the gig economy’s ‘dinosaur, meet comet’ moment. I guess we’re about to find that out.

Then there’s the healthcare field; already overwhelmed by government’s continual nipping and tucking of their budgets. This crisis is shining a spotlight on what happens when we cut too close to the bone, and endanger not only our patients, but the very people that we need to save us when it hits the fan. First responders are also going to be an endangered species; the police, fire, EMTs, 911 operators, ambulance drivers, are all going to be working overtime to take care of those who need their services. What happens when those people have to deal with the virus in their own families? Or in themselves? Time to be very, very kind to everyone you know who stands between you and a very messy illness.

Bear in mind, as well, that while we’re trying to ramp up to help people with acute virus symptoms, that already strained health care system and lack of beds and equipment is ensuring a continuation of hall way medicine, and long, long hours in emergency rooms. Having a heart attack? A baby? We’re already hearing about women facing hard labour on a gurney – or even out in the parking lot. Triage could get brutal.

There’s so much more to consider. What happens to those people who keep going in to work, in any field, that have to worry about their kids being out of school for several weeks? Is serving your coffee, or ringing up your purchases, as important as being home to care for their children, or elderly parents? 

Truthfully, what’s really making us crazy is this crippling uncertainty. We don’t’ know how long this will go on. Do we need to look at long term unemployment? What about the kids? How long can we sustain any kind of isolation? Without a clear vision, just getting through the next few weeks may seem like too much of a hardship, personally, and for our country.

We want to know that this too will pass, but we’d be a lot more comfortable if there were clear indicators of what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next month. We want to know that there are brighter days ahead, if we can only hang in through this trying period. When we are told to expect worse to come, it doesn’t make what is happening now any easier.

In Italy right now, a country that is, granted, much more attuned to an authoritarian, militaristic governance, the people are dutifully quarantined in their homes. Some say that America is just one week ahead of where Italy is right now, pandemic wise.

This letter, from Monica Maggioni, a veteran journalist and the CEO of RaiCom, a division of Italian public television, was published in the Washington Post today, in an attempt to paint a bit of a picture of what is going on there.

For many Italians, the normal warnings about this virus were simply not enough to change behavior. Denial comes too easily, perhaps. It was more convenient to blame some foreign germ-spreader, or pretend that the news was unreal. Then came a reality check: Last Sunday, Pope Francis gave a benediction not from his normal window at the Vatican but via video, in part to avoid the crowd on St. Peter’s Square but also to send a message. That was the first strong sign to snap out of it.

Now I find myself confined in a place where time is suspended. All the shops are closed, except for groceries and pharmacies. All the bars and restaurants are shuttered. Every tiny sign of life has disappeared. The streets are totally empty; it is forbidden even to take a walk unless you carry a document that explains to authorities why you have left your house.”

Strange days, hard times. And yet – even in the sadness, the wonderful people of Italy are proving that the sharing of music can keep us from despair.

They will prevail. And so will we.

Giant Meteor Wins By A Landslide!


by Roxanne Tellier

Anyone paying attention to the primaries in New Hampshire last week?

If you thought it was about Bernie vs Buttigieg, you missed out on the best option that New Hampshirites were offered …. 

“Would you rather see a giant meteor strike the earth, extinguishing all human life? Or see President Trump re-elected?”

Sixty-four percent of the voters, including 68% of women polled, opted for the giant meteor and a fiery death, rather than four more years of trump. Me too.  

Truthfully, though, there WAS a giant asteroid heading straight for Earth this week. Apparently, it just skimmed by us. If you were asleep yesterday at 6:05 a.m., you slept through it.

I was rooting for the giant asteroid, but apparently, we’re gonna go by coronavirus instead. Ah well, either way, something massive seems to be en route to save the planet – not the people, but hopefully other living creatures, flora and fauna. About time. They deserve a break from humanity’s unending cruelty and selfishness.

I love the planet, but the people? Gotta go. We’re a virus on the earth, like a legion of marauding Huns or Vikings. Man has used, abused, raped, and defiled as much of the planet as they can get to, and is on track to find the last of the pristine land to despoil, all to have somewhere upon which to deposit their excrement and garbage.

Failing that quest, it’s off to other planets, by Space Force apparently. This garbage has to go somewhere!

We don’t deserve this planet. Maybe we never did. Or maybe we did for a while, but then we got off track, and let our ugliest selves take over. I don’t know. I just live here.

I’ve long come to the realization that those who deny climate change, despite the words of 97% of scientists, are fundamentally selfish, and unable to accept the responsibility and accountability for their actions. After all, if you agree that the climate is changing, and that our abuse of the planet has had a hand in damaging it, then you have to agree that we all have to do something about it.

It just makes sense to want a world where everyone can breathe cleaner air, and drink purer water. I want my kids and grandkids to have a life in a naturally beautiful nation, where they can enjoy the same wonders that I did as a child, and as my parents did, and as my grandparents did. I want them to be able to revel in the beauty that we took for granted for centuries, without having to first slog through and deal with other people’s trash and waste.

And that kind of accountable, grown up, respectful of others thinking just doesn’t seem to work for those who believe it is their absolute right, told to them right there in the Bible, that this land is theirs to do with as they wish.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

Even those that haven’t darkened so much as a community centre, never mind a church, in decades take that as their licence to do as they please to a supine, and apparently passive and powerless, earth and her creatures.

Might not keep on being so easy, though, in the next few decades, or even years.  Seems like Mother Nature is getting a tad peeved.  

The forecast calls for a whole lot of weather events on their way, with phasers set on stun – colder winters, hotter summers, heatwaves, floods, and forest fires, as sea levels rise and take out the coasts. Lots more bugs and biting things, because of the heat and damp. There’ll be more frequent and more violent hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

More than half of the living creatures that roamed the earth when I was a kid are long gone, and my grandkids will likely only know many beautiful, and now extinct, animals solely by seeing their pictures in books. We’re cutting down rain forests, biodiverse woodlands, and ancient trees, in order to plant palm oil trees to make face cream, and in the process, we are destroying the homes many wild animals need to survive.

Where exactly do you think the wild things go when their world is on fire?

And where exactly do you think WE will go when our world is too dirty, polluted and just plain unliveable for our children to survive, BESIDES being on fire or under water? 

And that, my dears, is why I was rooting for the giant asteroid all week. A quick ‘boom!’ and that’s it – no more worrying about how our selfish greed has soured the futures of our heirs. You won’t even have to study for that end of term exam. All good! And all gone!  (armageddon.jpg)

It seems that the alternative – to dig down deep, and find the resources and will to turn this car crash around – are beyond the abilities or will of most world leaders.

But on the bright side, they say the economy was booming.

——————————————————

On a lighter note, I was thinking about the American cities that are getting really angry at trump, and now pence, who have a habit of cruising into towns to throw a rally/party – and then skating on the tab. Apparently that tab, which inevitably winds up being downloaded onto the cities, and ultimately the tax prayers, is way past the million dollar mark. And mayors are getting angry. Justifiably. How will THEY run for re-election, when only a portion of their taxpayers are picking up the bill for a GOP rally they neither asked for nor wanted?

I have come up with a plan for those mayors. No need to thank me.

First, get your people on board. As more and more people opt for giant meteors instead of those four more years, it should be easy to convince the bulk of your citizens that paying for the freeloader and his hangers on to party on their dime just isn’t worth it. If you’ve got some really rabid trumpsters against the plan, maybe send them off to another city for the day, one that has one of those 3D IMAX screens and the latest super hero movie playing. Expensive. But remember – your OWN re-election is at stake!

So then, here’s the deal. Air Force One taxis into your city for a rally … but there’s no one there to greet them. The airport is empty.

Trump’s handlers fling open the plane’s plug door to discover there’s no waiting flight of stairs. After several minutes of discussion, and despite Melania’s complaints, the crew, along with trump and his camp followers, decide they’ll have to use the emergency exit slide, and hope they can rouse the airport’s landing crew later. 

There’s no motorcade waiting, so trump and his goons get into a convoy of luggage carts and putt putt towards the arena where he’s supposed to speak, but – it’s locked! Not a creature is stirring, not even an attendant to let them in.

But in the parking lot, the out of town, trump faithful are gathered, crowding around their pickup trucks and RVs bearing trump positive stickers. A lot of overly excited, red faced and red hatted people are alternating tossing their garbage on to the pavement, and eating each other’s pets on tailgate grills, cuz there’s no food stalls open.

Wisely, the Secret Service throw a bag over trump’s head before he can see the faithful, and launch into a Nuremburg-worthy rant.

The VIP golf cart cortege putt putts into the city, but there’s not a soul on the streets. You could shoot a cannon down Main Street, and not hit anyone. Pompeo gives it a try with a ceremonial cannon he finds on a war memorial.

There’s no response when trump’s Secret Service detail empty their pistols into a closed hot dog vendor’s stall. The odd vertical blind twitches in a window, but the city is otherwise silent and still. (Tell your people not to giggle.)

The minions huddle to strategize, but, with no cheering crowds, trump’s getting very whiny. If they can’t find some loyal trumplodytes soon, or at least a couple of scoops of ice cream, there’s gonna be trouble.

When the luggage carts run out of gas, the decision is made for them – they need to move out. But trump and his goons now have to limp back to the airport, carrying trump, who refuses to walk, and is having a tantrum, his arms and legs flailing as the tears fall, and all of that drama makes it even harder for the Secret Service to carry him.

Melania gamely chooses to walk as well, despite having broken a nail. When a light drizzle begins to fall, she’s grateful to have remembered to bring her favorite rain jacket. 

Hours later, they get back to the airport, the plane’s been jacked up, and three of its wheels are missing.

You can flesh out the rest of the plan to suit your own city, Mr Mayor. And … you’re welcome.

Tags: DBAWIS, Bob Segarini, Roxanne Tellier, Giant Meteor, New Hampshire. Space Force. Bible, Mother Nature, 3D IMAX,  Air Force One, Secret Service, save the planet, extinction