How Could You Do This To Us?

"Where the hell have you gone? We had a deal. A plan. You were supposed to be here, in the box, on the table, waiting for your turn to be locked into the puzzle."

"What's the problem?"

"What do you mean 'What's the Problem?' Do you not understand the pain you've caused us, buggering off like that. Not a word to anyone. No 'thanks and goodbye.' Nothing. You left us to do the whole thing only to end up one piece short."

"O-kaay. Sorry, I guess. I didn't realize it was that important to you?

"Didn't realize! How could you not realize? We spent over a week putting your puzzle together. We were careful. We kept things organized. We gave every piece a place to wait while we found their spot. We did everything we could to make this a good experience for you and for us and you screwed it up for everyone. 549 other pieces were able to follow the plan. But not you. No. You had to disappear on us. You had to let us all down. You had to waste all of our times.

"What's the big deal. It's just a stupid puzzle?"

"A stupid puzzle? Argh. Are you freaking kidding me? A stupid puzzle. Is the artist who created the image stupid? Are the factory workers who carefully cut you and your comrades into perfectly-coordinated shape stupid. Is the shopkeeper said who stocked you on their shelves stupid? And what about us? Are we stupid? Are we stupid for wanting to spend time together, to challenge ourselves, to do something other than stare at electronic screens while we're locked away in Coronavirus pandemic-induce home quarantine?

"Don't cry, for Christ's sake."

"I'm not crying. I'm. I'm. Okay, I'm crying a little. I'm just so frustrated. Do you even have an appreciation for how hard a puzzle is? It a laborious process to sort you all, to find the edges and the corners, to pull together sets of pieces that make up small parts of the whole puzzle. If you knew how many times we sat at the table scratching our heads trying to find that one piece that needs to fit in that one spot to finish that one section. Or how many nights we swore we were done for the evening only to have one more piece cry out to be placed. But you wouldn't understand, would you? You're a selfish, ungrateful little shit. You probably don't even appreciate the picture you're part of. You have no idea what you are."

"Wait a minute now. I don't appreciate you calling me dumb."

"Not dumb, per se. More like ignorant. I mean, what else could explain your insensitivity? Why would you abandon us, knowing you'd be leaving behind an unfinishable puzzle. Why? Why did you leave."

"I didn't mean to hurt you. Or the other pieces."

"Then why?"

"It just happened. I lay in the box, with all the other blue and white pieces. You left the lid off. I heard movement in the house, the sounds of life beyond the box. I felt the warmth from the sun through the window. A breeze blew through the screen door. A dog jumped onto the table and sniffed around us. I looked on your walls and saw that you had mounted a dozen finished puzzles. I could see the outlines of all the individual pieces that made up those puzzles. You had glued them together. And I felt overwhelmingly sad."

"So you just left? Without a word?"

"If you could see your future, and it looked like that, set and without your say, would you stay?"

"This isn't about me. It's about you?"

"Isn't it though? What does your future look like?"

"I have many possible futures."

"Do you see one where you're glued into the same spot forever, just one small piece imprisoned into someone else's picture?"

"This conversation took a turn in a direction I'm not entirely comfortable with."

"You do see it, right. You can visualize some version of your future where you played it safe, took no chances, ground it out working for others, pursuing safety and comfort and ended up unfulfilled. It's not pretty, is it?"

"That still doesn't excuse what you did. But I hear you. I can kind of see where you're coming from."

"I'm just trying to live my life. I don't want to have to follow someone else's pre-determined plan for my life. I want to create my own picture. Don't you want the same thing for yourself?"

"The dog ate you, didn't he?

(long silence, then...) "Yeah."


An Irrational Love of Junk Food

I don't feel well. There is a complaint in my stomach. It feels like I'm carrying a sack of gravel in a pouch above my naval. But I am not surprised. This happens to me wherever I eat too much of certain foods. Like the Big Texas Cinnamon Roll sitting on my desk right now.

I am lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. I can consume both these things, but when I do, I pay a price. Gut ache. A bad night's sleep. Not enough pain or disease to keep me from work or, more importantly, my ability to ride a bicycle. But enough pain to make me curse my decision to consume the things that cause me such discomfort.

I can hear your response to this (I hear it my head, in my own voice, all the time). "Just don't eat the stuff that's bad for you, stupid." I know. It is that easy. But it's also not that easy.

I often get into a rhythm of discipline around what I eat. I'll have good weeks, months even, where I take in only high-quality food optimized for my sensitivities and nutritional needs.

During these heady forays into healthy eating, I drop weight, lean out in the face, and my belly realigns along a flatter plane. My blood pressure drops into enviable territory. After a couple of weeks, I start to feel so good in fact that the little voice in my head that convinced me to take this journey starts to allow the odd indiscretion. It swears I can handle it. It teases that maybe the sensitivities are now cured, that I can go back to the sweet and the creamy, the doughy and the fat-laden.

That self-destructive version of my inner voice is strong within me right now. During our pandemic quasi-quarantine, I make a mental plan every night that tomorrow will be the day I get back on track. Tomorrow I'll start the day with a Paleo breakfast. I will eat salads, fish, and vegetables. I will drink tea and water. I will take my supplements.

Then the morning comes and before I even catch myself, I'm walking away from the taco truck with a sausage, egg, and cheese burrito wrapped in a brown paper bag alike contraband.

I know where the self-destructive voice in my head is getting its motivation. I feel stressed and anxious about the state of the world. I worry about my ability to protect myself and take care of my family. I worry about holding on my job and my business. I worry that the path I had built for my future has been upended, maybe even lost, in the cosmic card shuffle or the last few weeks.

But I also know that the voice comes in the name of habit and comfort. It may even be steering me to eating behavior that leads to pain because pain is the expression of my mental state. The voice is aligning my external sense with my inner discomfort.

I'm still going to eat that Big Texas Cinnamon Roll though.


Pandemic Celebration

To all those who are celebrating momentous moments during the lockdown, we're with you

T's Pandemic birthday

We have eight grandchildren. All of them are unique and different and amazing in their own ways. We love to spoil them, especially on their birthdays. But the pandemic has thrown all types of social celebration into purgatory.

T turned 10 this week. Her birthday consists of a boxed grocery store cake that the store won't write her name on because to do so would mean they'd have to allow us to linger at the counter. We're eating takeout pizza because Rosatti's won't deliver to our house. The entire birthday party consists only of T's siblings, her mother, and us (because we really can' have her friends and their families around us right now)? She'll get a shopping spree on Amazon because so many retail options are closed for business right now?

We'll do our best to make her time with us fun. And I hope she feels loved and appreciated. I hope that the reasons why we can't go all out are not lost on her, that she understands that her birthday is no less special because it can't happen with the reckless abandon of our 2019 approach to life.

Because we're still getting cake. And we're still buying gifts. And we're still spending time together. And her mother took her to have he nails done (at possible the last nail-salon open in the area). And she is, most definitely, special to us that in every possible way.

Happy birthday to all of you who are celebrating under the restrictions of social distancing. Happy anniversary to all those couples committed for the long haul who can't spend their precious moment by candlelight at a fancy restaurant. And congratulations all you seniors graduating high school and college whose final year has been cut short.

We grieve with you for the experiences that have been snatched out of your life experience. We walk with you through this phase of life and hope the disruptions are just temporary; that we'll soon get a re-do of all these missed opportunities to celebrate with you.


Fascinating Pandemic Data Visualization

To help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, most of us are experiencing some sort of restricted living. The restrictions seem logical if you consider the evidence, but every once in awhile I catch a whiff of scorn about the measures being taken. It seems that some people think the social isolation, the closing of schools, canceling of public events, shuttering of bars and restaurants, and the travel restrictions are unnecessary and the costs (halted economic activity, limited daily freedom and the real potential for a recession or worse) too great.

But the reality is that in today's hyper-connected global community, this kind of pandemic spread was inevitable. We're faced with a virus completely new to the human species, to which we have no natural immunity, and with a mortality rate above one percent (maybe more if we could get accurate data). It spreads fast. And the first government to see it acted too slowly.

The New York Times article linked below does an amazing job of two things. First, it is the best explanation I've seen as to why a virus that leaped the animal-to-human barrier in an open-air meat market in Wuhan, China has brought our American lives to a halt.

Second, it visualizes the impact of the outbreak of this virus and its rapid spread in a way that really brings home why we all need to do our part following the CDC guidelines for protecting ourselves and our communities.

How the Virus Got Out

By Jin WuWeiyi CaiDerek Watkins and James GlanzMarch 22, 2020

The most extensive travel restrictions to stop an outbreak in human history haven’t been enough. We analyzed the movements of hundreds of millions of people to show why...

Read the full article here.


If You Must Work During the Pandemic

Santini, the cycling clothing company I work with in Italy, is based in Bergamo, Lombardy, the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic. To contribute to their community and keep the business going, they have decided to start making face masks to supplement the incredible shortage worldwide of critical medical supplies. This means the factory must remain open and our valuable employees need to come into work every day.

How do you operate a factory, with employees required to produce the goods you make, in an environment where we're all being asked to stay home and avoid contact with each other to delay or prevent the spread of this virus? There is, it turns out, a responsible way. Here are there recommendations for any business that needs to keep the doors open in the middle of the pandemic:

  1. Close all the common areas like coffee rooms or canteens. All employees should use bathrooms, coffee or smoke brakes one by one.
  2. Try to be sure that all the employees work at least 1,5 meters away from each other. If not possible, have them wear a mask and rubber gloves.
  3. Invite all the employees to clean their working space more than once a day with a cleaning product, also their mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Especially if the area is used by more than one person. Always clean the surfaces before using them.
  4. Put purell gels around the company.
  5. Have thermometers available for the employees to check their temperature (to be cleaned after each use). If the temperature is higher than 37,5 C, send them back home where they should stay isolated.
  6. We put some very clear signs around the company. Something like: “remember to wash your hands after you have opened the door” (the door handle is a very risky area) or “clean your working space”. There are a lot of these signs around. Simple reminders but useful. We need to change our habits and it’s not easy.
  7. Try to speak as frequently as possible to them explaining the basic rules of this virus. Wash hands frequently with soap, stay away from each other, don’t shake hands, don’t touch your face, if you feel sick don’t come to the office, etc. remind them to avoid going to E.R. If they feel sick. They should call their doctor and stay at home to avoid contagion.
  8. Use smart working with most of the workers who can work from home. We are doing shifts where we have only one employee per area in the office while the others work from home.
  9. Do a general cleaning of the company with the use of ozone cleaning. Tell your cleaning team to be more thorough when cleaning common areas or all those areas that people touch more often (door handles, computer keyboards or mouse, coffee machines, etc. )
  10. Tell them to get changed as soon as they get home. Wash their hands or, better, take a shower before touching other family members
  11. If you have employees with some special pathologies (diabetes above all or any other debilitating sickness) leave the home immediately.
  12. Keep your elderly safely at home.

Sound advice, right? Please feel free to copy and paste or share this list if you or anyone you know is wrestling with how to keep a working business open in a safe and responsible way.