Pandemic Diary 28: Focus, People, Focus

Whatever the opposite of a laser is, that is my unfocused brain in quarantine some days.

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Anecdotal evidence is evidence only of an anecdote, so I report this not with statistical accuracy but only as something noticed: there has been an uptick in the number of posts on my social media feeds of individuals who describe themselves as “TIs” or “targeted individuals.”

“Targeted individuals” labor under the belief that each one is the focus of intense electromagnetic energy pulses sent to torment them; now, these individuals indeed appear to be tormented, to judge from what they write and how they write it (ALL CAPS and no punctuation), so it is no surprise that they need something on which to blame their depression and suffering.

I am one of those readers who always takes a moment to report these accounts to the Twitter or Facebook offices as “someone in danger of self-harm.” As a more-than-casual consumer of content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, I have my own sense of how often I encounter posts from self-proclaimed targeted individuals: about twice a year. There have been more than that number this month alone.

Is this an effect of quarantine? Our national and global economies are in a free-fall brought on by a mandatory lock down (in many communities) made necessary by a fast-moving virus that mostly kills the infirm and elderly but also kills the young, middle-aged, and healthy (in New York City, more than twenty-five percent of the dead were younger than sixty-four and the greatest number dead of COVID-19 with no underlying condition are those between forty-five and sixty-four; not young but still employable); which ended almost all in-person commercial activity; which led to businesses shut down and employees furloughed or laid off.
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Pandemic Diary 11: Bite-sized Insults

“You aren’t worth the breath you use.” I tweeted that to some Twitter account today, some individual or individuals hidden behind an American flag and a pro-Trump phrase in place of a person’s name. (“Something Deplorables Something,” written in the Fraktur typeface favored by neo-Nazis or those who think it is cute to be thought of as a neo-Nazi. The account spent the morning tweeting GIFs at me happy to think that it had “owned” me, a Lib.)

This particular account had defended … oh, who cares about the controversy du jour of April 11, 2020? It is so small that I can imagine future me perplexed by it were I to supply the details here. But I had replied, and then I had insulted it, so I suppose the “deplorable” hidden behind the Nazi typeface had earned what it wanted: me to show a temper.

No, the bigger issue for me today is the effect of insults on me, both received and given, because I am curious as to why I tossed some insults out there into a world full of insults to begin with and why I subsequently deleted them. Neither act impresses me much.
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Pandemic Diary 10: Poorly Orchestrated

Life in quarantine: The Golden Rule, but with more soap.

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At the grocery store today, the ratio of shoppers with face protection to naked faces was roughly fifty-fifty. No one in New York State government or Ulster County government has declared the coronavirus pandemic half-over, but half of the shoppers with whom I congregated acted like they think we are more than halfway through the disaster.

Even if we are in fact more than halfway through the disaster, which would equate to another three weeks of quarantine and face masks and the scrubbing of all surfaces, there are no exemptions from the rules. But because my fellow New Yorkers have ignored rules, which is something I usually celebrate about my fellow New Yorkers, our rejection of some of the more superfluous rules in life, well, today, April 10, New York State announced further restrictions on “social distancing”—that dumb phrase from which I wish I could be socially distant—no one can use golf courses from today until April 29.

Why is this? Because New York State did not declare golf courses “nonessential,” so too many individuals discovered the glories of golf in the last three weeks and started to congregate in large groups, crowd into the pro shops, and too many hands to count have touched flags, bunker rakes, and rental equipment.

The subject of the photo at top is my masked face while at the grocery store, and I apologize. My face was a cute one when I was a child, but whoa. The mask is an improvement.
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Mean People Stink

I am too sensitive …

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Each of the last few Thanksgiving weeks I have shared on Facebook whichever article I can find (this year it was from NBC News) that provides a list of retail store chains that will be open on Thanksgiving Day. (The article usually identifies those chains that will be closed on that holiday.)

This is of some importance to me as I used to work in retail (a major department store chain, now extinct; an independent bookseller, now a memory; an electronics retailer, now going out of business, too.) I worked many “Black Fridays,” that day when the Christmas sales season is launched—a couple of those Black Fridays, I was behind the counter ringing sales with live (barely awake) customers at 5:00 a.m. I never worked on Thanksgiving Day itself, though, as the phenomenon of opening stores for customers on a national holiday had not quite started when my life as an employee ended in 2010.

I am glad for that, because I would not have much liked working on Thanksgiving.
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From To-Do to Tah-Dah!

The perfect to-do list: The one where the act of putting a task on the to-do list completes the task. It doesn’t exist.

There are websites for one to use to make to-do lists, apps for shopping lists (I own a not-very-smart phone, so I am an outsider to the world of apps), websites on which you can compile top 10 lists with friends. After one creates an account and logs in, not a single one of these websites offers “get a notepad or a scrap of paper and a pen and start writing your list” as the first item listed, so I guess they are indeed serious.
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Just a Volunteer Here Myself

One can not, or one ought not, nickname oneself. This is not a hard-and-fast social rule, but it is similar to the unspoken rule about not declaring oneself humble. The person who volunteers that he or she is humble often is not at all humble. An exception comes when the humble person is speaking self-deprecatingly.

Every once in a while, I have desired a cool nickname, a moniker that precedes me wherever I roam. “Lefty” is a great nickname—Steve Carlton and Phil Mickelson both carry that name with distinction, but I am right-handed. No one goes by the name “Righty.” “Write-y”? No. No one needs a nickname that is a pun, a rhyme no less, and would always need a follow-up explanation: “‘Cause he calls himself a writer, get it?”

“No. No, I don’t.”
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Awesome. Just Awesome.

One can not, or ought not, nickname oneself. This is not a hard-and-fast social rule, but it is similar to the unspoken rule about not declaring oneself humble. The person who volunteers that he or she is humble often is not at all humble. An exception comes when the humble person is speaking self-deprecatingly.

Every once in a while, I have desired a cool nickname, a moniker that precedes me wherever I roam. “Lefty” is a great nickname—Steve Carlton and Phil Mickelson both carry that name with distinction, but I am right-handed. No one goes by the name “Righty.” “Write-y”? No. No one needs a nickname that is a pun, a rhyme no less, and would always need a follow-up explanation: “‘Cause he calls himself a writer, get it?”

“No. No, I don’t.”
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Generation X?

“You’d really hate an adult to understand you,” one girl named Susan is quoted as saying. “That’s the only thing you’ve got over them—the fact that you can mystify and worry them.”

Others are quoted as saying things like, “Marriage is the only thing that really scares me,” and, “Religion is for old people who have given up living,” or, “I’d prefer to do something for the good of humanity,” and, “You want to hit back at all the old geezers who tell us what to do.”

Man, those millennial kids today have so much anger! Except each one of these quotes comes from a book published in 1964 in the United Kingdom called “Generation X.”
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