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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 4/17/20



Happy Almost-Weekend,

 

THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

As a result of the stay-at-home restrictions and the desire to exercise (perhaps with a healthy dose of boredom), have you noticed the parade of zombies coming out in the late afternoon and continuing until dusk? You know what I mean, when every neighbor seems on the street, walking aimlessly, no destination in mind. I didn’t come up with this, but after hearing four separate references to this looking like the “zombie apocalypse,” I’m guessing it’s a pretty common observation.

And while all this walking around the neighborhood is all good and communal, It does seem that folks are more deliberate in their strolls, reading their adversaries’ eyes and body language with each step, to maximize the chance for avoidance. Fear is lurking in the air…

For Andrea and me, our walks have turned into a laboratory experiment in human behavior, to wit:

  • We say hello to those with whom we make eye contact. Will this person respond? Most of the time we find that they do. Sometimes…crickets…

  • How many people look down or avert their glance? Even now, they’re afraid of human contact?

  • Does anyone pay attention to walk/don’t walk signals any more? We don’t…

  • Will the person coming from the other direction give up the right of way? (it’s an 80% chance we will be the ones to move)

  • Do runners care at all about physical distancing?

  • How many times will we hear someone cough? Answer: only once this past week. A cough is the current version sewing a scarlet “A” to ones sleeve (or, in this instance, maybe a “C” or a “V”).

  • How many times will we have to cross the street to avoid people?

  • How many people are honoring the mask mandate (answer: 90%+ of people over 50 and 30% of people under 40)

  • Will today be one of those days when we encounter a phalanx of women walking together, six feet apart, stretching from sidewalk to sidewalk, leaving no escape?

The best observation of the zombie apocalypse, comes from Mark DiMaria remarking on his drive home:

“Remember the movie "The Omega Man," with Charlton Heston, which came out during our high school years? The opening scene features the Man, driving his car around a seemingly deserted Los Angeles (circa 1970), before we notice shadowy figures furtively move behind the windows of the buildings he passes. A contagion has rendered most people quasi-zombies, unable to come out in the sunlight. I could not help thinking of the that movie, as I drove home from the office yesterday afternoon.”

Anyway, we’ll be out there with all the other zombies later today. Remember: Keep your distance. They’re coming to get you…

 

SPEAKING OF BEING A ZOMBIE…IT’S OK…

While we’re on the topic of zombies aimlessly wandering, last weekend there was a day when I think I actually did absolutely nothing. At first I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself. How could I actually spend an entire day, roaming from chair to chair, to nap, to watch TV, do a puzzle, and back again? Why wasn’t I working? Why wasn’t I productive? Seriously, one can feel frustrated and unproductive moving around the house, anticipating the high point being the daily promenade around the neighborhood.

But upon further reflection, the rationalizations emerge. First, I am still able to work during the work week. Second, I would have been on a family vacation to Mexico during this time (albeit a little less than the length of the shelter order!), when I would have done very little. Third, I’m home and safe with family. Fourth, is I can now indulge my lethargy in new ways! More about how one can indulge the lethargy next week…

What we know at this point in the shelter order is that most people feel anxious, some are unduly self-critical, some are harboring anger and some are depressed. The LA Times had a good article on mental health in current times: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-17/column-coronavirus-depression

 

INNER STRENGTH

Most of you know that Andrea runs a program called Wise Readers to Leaders. Its mission is to provide summer literacy and camp activities to LAUSD kids from Title I schools (among other things). They begin each day with a group reading and singing a song, the lyric of which is “something inside, so strong, so strong.” It is this mantra that sets these kids on their way to a productive day. Perhaps we should sing it each morning too.

This isn’t a new idea. Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and Stoic philosopher) had this to say over 1800 years ago (thanks, Ron Cappello for sending):

“You have the power over your own mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find inner strength.”

 

FINALLY—A BIG BRASS BAND

Thank you Matthew Allnatt, for turning us on to this rousing “at home” performance by the Cory Band. It will make you smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0KiCXZ2IM0

The Cory Band is a volunteer brass band from around the UK, headquartered in Wales. Here’s the Cory Band’s take on Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m719Y7Vpoc4&feature=youtu.be

Have a great weekend,

Glenn

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