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Musings from the Bunker 4/22/20



Good morning!

Happy Earth Day,

The Spanish Flu, recalled in the above photo, forever affected those who lived through it. Masks were the order of the day. They had to deal with many of the same issues we are dealing with, but without the therapies we have and are developing or the prospect of a vaccine.

I wonder what our kids will say about these crazy days? I think their perspectives will fall into three groups: what was going on before, what it was like in the “Great Isolation,” and what they will say and do in the future in relating back to this pandemic.

On the “what was going on immediately before” front, besides acknowledging how an election campaign and impeachment trial occupied much of the news before the pandemic, they also likely will comment on the banality of the issues that seemed important before the crisis. Among other issues, we were focused on the Kardashians, the college admissions scandal, whether people should be guaranteed some minimal level of health care (while the details are to be worked out, hasn’t the case now been made?), what sorts of weapons are okay to sell on the market to anyone who wants to buy them, and The Bachelor.

As for lessons learned during the pandemic:

  • They will have learned how much of one’s job can actually be done from home with a good WiFi connection.

  • They will have seen both the good that big tech can bring (in the form of information delivery, video-conferencing, connections with friends, and entertainment) and the bad (the endless ads, the misinformation floating around on Facebook and Twitter when honest information was what we wanted, knowing we are being observed, and how algorithms are not necessary our friends).

  • They will have confirmed that moving out the first time was a good thing.

  • They will have gotten to taste the lives of the empty nesters they left behind and, perhaps, appreciate their parents on an adult-to-adult level.

How will their perspectives and behaviors change? This is, of course, impossible to predict, but I would suggest:

  • An appreciation for the randomness of life and how quickly things can change

  • An appreciation for the freedoms that we enjoy every day

  • A newfound habit of washing hands more frequently (and avoiding hand to face contact)

  • No more handshakes with people one doesn’t know—actually including people one does know

  • Not forgetting when leaving the house to load up on hand wipes and sanitizers

  • Packing for vacation includes a supply of several weeks’ of medications

  • More supplies stored for emergencies

  • A different perspective of time

 

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Around the Sonnenberg household, besides all busily at work from home, working for non-profits, walks, exercise, entertainment and reading, we’re into some pretty fun pursuits as well:

  • The big jigsaw puzzle. Ever wonder how they’re made (and how it is that no two pieces are identical)? Here’s a great article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/business/coronavirus-jigsaw-puzzles.html?referringSource=articleShare

  • Recipes, recipes and more recipes. We are exploring new dishes and cooking techniques. While we all participate, Jake is our executive chef, dreaming up, and then cooking, myriad recipes that fit his pescatarian lifestyle.

  • Baking and desserts. We have to work out a lot here, as between my various breakfast treats, Jake’s amazing desserts (e.g., chocolate souffles, chocolate lava cake, crème brulet) and Lauren’s endless supply of banana break and cookies, we are on a sugar high.

  • Paint by numbers. Yes, you heard that right. Remember the paint-by-numbers craze and companies like Craft Master? Here’s a great article about that historic phenomenon (including an exhibition at the Smithsonian!): https://www.kqed.org/pop/110874/honoring-the-creative-kitsch-of-paint-by-numbers. Lauren and Andrea are into this, thanks Andrea’s sister Karen. I’m pretty sure this is how Monet got started… I always wanted a Wassily Kandinsky hanging on our wall. This wasn’t exactly how I imagined it.

  • Gardening. In an effort to keep busy, improve the environment and be a tiny bit more self-sufficient, Jake is leading the effort to tear up some lawn and start growing herbs and veggies.

  • Back to the Sixties? Lauren’s tie dying materials arrived yesterday. I think we may find ourselves roaming around the house in Brady Bunch style sweats sometime soon.

 

THINKING ABOUT WHERE WE’VE BEEN AND WHERE WE’RE GOING

Thanks to Noah Stern for forwarding this thoughtful article from the Atlantic noting this is the end of the post-9/11 era and the beginning of another: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/its-not-september-12-anymore/609502/

 

OZYMANDIUS

Saturday’s poetry spurred a great deal of response. Several people have reminded me that Ozymandius was the name of one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad. For a great reading of the poem by Bryan Cranston (Walter White in the series) in the trailer for the episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3dpghfRBHE. Cranston’s reading is accompanied by scenes of the desert where Walter White’s adventures begin and eventually end.

Ozymandius was the Greek name Ramesses II, who reigned in the 13th Century BCE. Shelley’s sonnet was the result of a challenge with a friend to produce two sonnets on Ozymandius (you can find the other online). It is rumored they got the idea when the British Museum acquired this statue of Ramesses:


Thanks, Mandy Lowell, for reminding me of the poem’s genesis and sending the photo.

 

FINALLY, ON EARTH DAY A CLOSING THOUGHT

“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen…”


--Vladimir Lenin, who could easily be talking about these few weeks (his birthday also is April 22)

That’s it. Have a great day,

Glenn

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