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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/23/20

Regardless of your politics, this is priceless…


Friends,

Welcome to a new work week! Remember that it’s MONDAY. It’s not just another weekend day. Just as we need to make our weekends feel like weekends, so do we need to start each week refreshed and ready to be engaged and productive. So let’s get to work! It’s Monday …

Yes, I know that sometimes isolating at home can feel like this:


But it need not.

To many, Monday doesn’t feel like a work week and I have heard complaints that one day seems to blend into another—much more than prior to our attempt to separate. Our lives have been thrown into disarray—some are working from home, others are dealing with increased protocols at work for not spreading the virus. Life used to have a rhythm and now that rhythm has been thrown askew. When regular routines are upended, stress follows. So it’s important to recalibrate a new regimen.

It is axiomatic that creating routines lowers stress, establishes goals, and enhances happiness. And these schedules are not just for responsibilities but also for selfish time and leisure time. Psychologists tell us that schedules and routines lead to better mental health. A schedule actually reduces the decisions that need to be made throughout the day. I’m following my own advice of developing a schedule. Here’s a quick run-down on the typical morning in the Bunker:

  • Between 5:00-6:30 (depending on wake up—without scheduled call or meeting I don’t set the alarm), get the Musings organized and sent, catch up on the news and emails.

  • Then breakfast

  • Then a walk or exercise

  • Then work

  • Then lunch!

See how easy that was? Before you know it, it’s time to attach the feed bag! Afternoons include performing all the tasks Andrea requires, some more exercise, mindless TV, walking the dog, more work, reading, and, of course, unhealthy snacking. And then it’s cocktail hour!

Regimentation and structure gets me through the day, as it has gotten me through life. Just what the doctor ordered for your typical guy with ADHD…

 

Arts and Crafts

I’ve talked a lot about seizing the opportunity to make leisure time more productive and enjoyable. We’re all learning new things, and that’s one of the big plusses of the separation. Some are learning to paint. Others are learning languages. Others are taking on-line classes. Some are learning new skills. Here’s one… I dare not identify the friend who has been attempting his hand at building a house out of popsicle sticks:


He can only get better. Let’s hope this doesn’t go on long enough that he gets this good:


 

Great Comedies, Redux

Everyone has their favorite escapist comedies. I’ve gotten many recommendations, including these:

  • Play It Again, Sam, recommended by Jesse Sharf, who insists it be watched after Casablanca. The two together, he claims are “as good as Godfather and Godfather Part II.”

  • Diner, which Jesse describes as a “manifesto on how to be a man.” I’m not sure about that, but the sports quiz before engagement was great. Why are so many movies and TV shows based in Baltimore? [there actually are two perfectly logical reasons]

  • This is from TV. Anyone who watched the quirky “Parks and Recreation” loved the Nick Offerman character, Ron Swanson. Here is his Pyramid of Greatness, as told to the middle school basketball team he coached: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAQ4yNgXelk

  • The Invention of Lying. Not unlike Groundhog Day, this comedy by and starring Ricky Gervais, offers a poignant meditation on what it means to tell the truth and how lying may actually not be a bad thing. At times uproaringly funny and sometimes bringing tears to the eye. Brilliant.

 

Today’s Author—Isaac Asimov

I make no secret of my love of science fiction, which, allows the author to establish not only the characters but a society, culture, and scientific laws. At its best, science fiction exposes the human condition indirectly through metaphor, stretching of science-fact, and adventure.

Some of the greatest science fiction writers were scientists as well. One of the greats of the golden age was Isaac Asimov, a professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He is best known for his robotic fiction (he invented the term “robotics” and, for all you Star Trek fans, “positronic”). Arguably his best are I, Robot (don’t be misled by the mediocre film attempt) and the Foundation Trilogy (later renamed the Foundation Series after two additional volumes appeared).

The Foundation Series is based upon the concept of “psychohistory,” which he created and named. Its premise was that one could predict future events with high probability based upon predictions of group behavior and prepare people accordingly. Unfortunately, what the psycho-historians didn’t anticipate the actions of a single individual, throwing the whole enterprise into disarray.

Asimov was extraordinarily prolific, his works encompassing his guides to bible and to science, among hundreds (literally) of books of fiction and non-fiction.

Brandon Smith, a first class science fiction nerd, has listed (in the order they should be read, if one wants to be consistent with the chronology of the future) the science fiction future history of Isaac Asimov:

The Brandon Smith World of Asimov:

  • The Complete Robot (1982) and/or I, Robot (1950)

  • Caves of Steel (1954)

  • The Naked Sun (1957)

  • The Robots of Dawn (1983)

  • Robots and Empire (1985)

  • The Stars, Like Dust (1951)

  • The Currents of Space (1952)

  • Pebble in the Sky (1950)

  • Prelude to Foundation (1988)

  • Forward the Foundation (1993)

  • Foundation (1951)

  • Foundation and Empire (1952)

  • Second Foundation (1953)

  • Foundation’s Edge (1982)

  • Foundation and Earth (1986)

 

Cheddar Playlist for Distancing

Always looking for new playlists with different slants. Here’s a great playlist published by Cheddar (the company for which Lauren is a reporter):

https://cheddar.com/media/a-work-from-home-playlist-to-get-you-through-coronavirus-social-distancing

 

Safe and Sane

Some of us have been ending emails with the admonition, “Stay safe and sane,” totally appropriate for the times. That made me recall how much fun it was to go get fireworks for July 4th. Who (well, at least of my generation) doesn’t recall the great Red Devil Fireworks…


Query, when is anything intended to burst into flames, send sparks flying in the air, and blow up after being set on fire by children playing with matches ever either “safe” or “sane”?

 

Worthy Cause of the Day

A great organization doing important work in challenging times:

Wayfinder Family Services (formerly the Junior Blind) serves the most vulnerable children, youth and families dealing with disabilities and children who have been abused. Many of them are in Wayfinder’s care 24 hours a day. Click to read about Wayfinder’s services (https://www.wayfinderfamily.org/). The impact of a few bucks can make a huge impact:

• $50 provides diapers and formula for two weeks for an infant

• $100 provides 20 meals for children in our programs

• $250 provides one day of 1-to1 individual care for a child with a disability

• $500 provides 30 hours of extra cleaning of our facilities

• $1,000 provides 30 hours of additional nursing staff time

• $2,500 increases the inventory of protective equipment and supplies for staff

• $5,000 sets up an isolation facility for those infected

There are many ways to help; this is one that is doing amazing work around the state.

 

Dealing with those little angels…

Across the country, parents have been having to cope with kids around the house all day, without respite:


While I have mental images of complete pandemonium, I’m hearing from most parents that, while challenging skills they did not previously believe they possessed, working with their kids has been a positive experience. Some parenting decisions, however, have been thrown off. I communicated recently with a friend trying to home school her children. She has heretofore maintained strict screen time limits for her children.

Now, with school on line and entertainment options more limited, the screen necessarily is becoming a bigger part of her children’s life. While I’ve always been a proponent of limiting screen time (on computers and TV), perhaps we are on the brink of a new era—when the screen can shift from being a mind-suck to being the promised positive contribution to education, culture and society.

 

Final Word From Isaac Asimov

“The only thing about myself that I consider to be severe enough to warrant psychoanalytic treatment is my compulsion to write…my idea of a pleasant time is to go up to my attic, sit by my electric typewriter…and bang away…”

Let’s get structure and routine, yet also work to vary our days. Let’s be thankful for the times we’ve enjoyed prior to today, for the times we will enjoy when this is over, and for this brief interregnum of personal reflection, improvement, and neurosis.

Stay safe and sane!

Glenn

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