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.


The wind at your back

I decided today was Take Your Bike To Work Day and got a lesson in momentum.

When I watch professional cycling, I am awed by how powerfully they ride their bicycles, especially in the final few miles of a race when. The pace accelerates. The riders stretch out into a long, skinny line. They seem to fly, barely anchored to the Earth by their skinny tires, slipping through the air, power oozing from their legs, pushing faster and faster to the finish.

As an amateur and a working professional, I am not delusional enough to think I could ride like a professional. I've stood on a bike-race sideline as the pros screamed by. I've officiated races on my motorcycle where I've had to rip out all the power my 1300 cc Yamaha could give me to stay ahead of the pros as they fought each other to be first through a decisive corner. I've witnessed pro-cyclist power up close and it's an experience beyond my own abilities. Except for very rare occasions when I am on a ride and feeling good and strong and get a glimpse.

Today was one of those occasions.

I brought my bike to work today and a gap in my schedule allowed me to take off for ninety minutes at noon. A solo lunch ride. From our office in Goodyear, there is a bumpy route that heads south for five miles then loops through a neighborhood.

The cycling gods immediately demanded I pay penance for my recent lack of commitment to cycling by boiling up a nasty headwind. It was a hard start but I persevered; my legs felt good. Still nothing like a pro experience, but manageable. I was but a humble servant of the cycling gods pedaling my route, getting in my miles.

Ten or so miles in, the route loops around a man-made lake then heads back north. As soon as I made that turn for home, the gods paid me back for my loyalty. The wind I'd fought for 40 minutes was now squarely at my back. The gradient was also tilted in my favor; one or two degrees downhill.

The result of these elements aligning was that I flew on my bicycle. My legs spun furiously. I was able to sit in my biggest gear, giving the bike all the power it needed to speed along close to thirty miles per hour. For a long, beautiful stretch, I felt like a pro heading for home, all power and push and speed. All hail the mighty tailwind!

A mile or so from the office (and the end of the ride) I slowed down and contemplated the incredible natural benefit of a tailwind. Were tailwinds just pure luck? Could I take credit for the speed at which I rode that back half of my ride? Did I ride that fast? Or does Mother Nature get the credit (and I an asterisk)? Could I truly be happy it gave me its advantage?

I had just about downplayed my role in the awesomeness of my ride when something clicked; this tailwind gave me the experience of a pro ride because I was ready to take advantage of it. It didn't just blow me home. I had to pedal. My heart had to pump. My lungs, my muscles, my blood, all had to do its work. That 30 miles-per-hour ride wasn't all me, but it wasn't all tailwind either.

In a way, it was a deserving push; a benefit I had to be prepared to take advantage of. I have been riding. I have been eating better. I have planned to take on new cycling challenges and working to prepare myself to be ready by summer. I soared today, not because of the tailwind, but because I and the tailwind came together and the perfect moment in time.

It was a reminder that tailwinds will come, but you can only ride them to the greatest experience on a bike if you're fit and ready to fly when they give you a boost.

What about you? Where are the tailwinds you could encounter in your life? And will you be ready to take advantage of them?


When Opportunity Knocks

Not an ideal way to start a ride.

Opportunity presents itself in many ways.

Today, the opportunity was a flat tire before I even made it to the start of the group ride. The opportunity was to get creative on how to solve this problem without supplies or tools on hand. It was to decide whether to give up before the ride started, or find a way to get my miles in. It was the opportunity to decide that my goal for the week was more powerful than this temporary setback. It was the opportunity to chase the group, no matter how far off in the distance they seemed, taking shortcuts and whatever I needed to connect with my friends.

Opportunity. Where is it in your life right now?