Fandango’s Flashback Friday (#2): One Year Ago

I am doing two FFF‘s because one was a photography post and one was a writing post. Plus I think it’s relevant to think back to my frame of mind one year ago! I noticed that I did several posts a year ago today, and I also recall taking a day trip to Woodstock, Illinois! Beginniny of the pandemic = lots of time on my hands!

So here is:

https://amoralegria.com/2020/04/02/fpq-what-will-be-our-post-covid-19-world/ .

FPQ: What Will Be Our Post-COVID-19 World?

FPQ

Fandango’s Provocative Question #63 is a very relevant one:

WHEN WE FINALLY GET THROUGH THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, DO YOU THINK THE WORLD IS GOING TO CHANGE FROM WHAT IS WAS LIKE BEFORE ANYONE EVER HEARD OF CORONAVIRUS? OR WILL THINGS QUICKLY RETURN TO “BUSINESS AS USUAL”?

I am not sure about the world, but I will talk from the perspective of the United States. This is the most serious problem that requires everyone’s cooperation in our history. Both good and bad will result from it.

Like the period after 9/11, the U.S. will experience a shift that may be permanent. After 9/11, people became more fearful, and that permeated all aspects of society. That fear led to increased prejudice, which ultimately culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

What I think the pandemic will do is make it very clear the serious problems our country has – it will lay them bare as they never have been before. The silver lining of the pandemic is that Donald Trump will probably not be reelected. (Of course, I wish he would be deposed in a less destructive way. And I don’t take it for granted that he will lose, so everybody VOTE!!)

But more importantly, the deficiencies in our health care system and our economic inequality will be top priority of whoever takes office next year. We cannot ignore these things anymore. We’ve been discussing the notion of health care for all for decades. Past administrations looked the other way. When Clinton tried to make reforms, there was a backlash. While Obama did manage to pass the ACA (aka Obamacare), it ended up being watered down due to many compromises that had to be made with the Republicans. Since then, the goal of the Republicans is to repeal the ACA without anything to replace it. And that’s where we are now.

But when the crisis of this pandemic is over, ignoring the problems in our health care system will no longer be possible. The fact that we were not ready for the pandemic is partly shortsightedness of the federal government but also due to deficiencies of our health care system. Our hospitals and health care workers are being overworked and they lack basic equipment. Hospitals are filling to capacity while thousands of others aren’t able to get tested for COVID-19. When testing did become available, people were worried about how they would pay for it (and thanks to Katie Porter, it ended up being free). I think we will really have to examine the priority that health care should have over almost anything else.

Leadership and how we choose leaders may be another problem that we will look at more closely, and their readiness to handle any crisis. We generally choose leaders by charisma and showmanship, and part of the problem is that our choices are limited to two parties. And voting rates are low because many people don’t think their votes count – well, who can blame them when one candidate wins a majority of the popular vote by millions of votes, but the other candidate becomes president because of our weird “Electoral College.”  And we end up with old white men instead of energetic, idealistic younger leaders. Whether this pandemic will end up galvanizing voters, I don’t know. I hope so.

Respect for scientists, belief in them – ignoring science has become a hallmark of conservative Republicans. The governors of some southern states refused to issue stay-home orders by mid-March because they had become used to ignoring and even ridiculing science, the facts. They worried more about the effect on the economy than saving lives. As I write this, three southern states (Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) are FINALLY today issuing stay-at-home orders and acting as though they had no idea the pandemic was this severe! Because it’s become the thing to do for “real” Republicans to thumb their noses at the experts.

I read an editorial in our local paper today, in which the author calls this pandemic time the age of “pathological individualism.” Individualism is fine, but people take it to extremes so that it really becomes selfishness. Individuals think they have a right to do whatever they want without regard for others. Perhaps that was what the governors who waited too long to implement “social distancing” in their states, were thinking. How can we just tell people to stay home? Don’t we have freedom of movement? What about their jobs? This is the United States of America!

What about us, as individual Americans? We will have sacrificed for the greater cause. In times of crisis, the majority of Americans set aside their petty differences and do what they can to help others. Why can’t we be that way all the time? And even now, there are some nasty, vindictive people who are harassing Asians as if these individuals in their community are somehow responsible for manufacturing the virus.

Inequality will be the biggest problem we will have to face, and inequality and racism are intertwined. We have always had inequality, but in recent years the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown increasingly larger. There are greedy corporate CEOs who quibble over every dollar of taxes when they have millions or billions at one end of the population, and people who cannot obey stay-at-home orders because they have no home on the other. When an analysis of the sick and the dead is completed, what will it say about those who have money and good insurance and those that don’t? Will there be more deaths among the poor? These are questions whose answers are yet to be revealed.

My husband believes that our people will become less consumerist – many things will not have the value they’ve had in the past. People will be very well-acquainted with shortages, just as they were emerging from WWI and WWII. Family and friends will become even more precious, and the desire to express our feelings will be more acute.20200402_164833
I hope he is right, but I’m afraid consumerism is hard-wired in us by now. Perhaps at the end of this pandemic, when people have jobs again, they will go on a buying frenzy. They will be exhorted to do so by the government, in order to jump-start the economy. In the meantime, online buying and delivery services are and will continue to be more ubiquitous than ever.

There will be lots of analyses of the pandemic, from scientific articles about the behavior and characteristics of the virus itself to political critiques about the response to the pandemic – was it too little, too late? Was Trump’s lack of leadership a major factor in the out-of-control number of cases and deaths? In fact, Adam Schiff is already talking about setting up a commission, like the 9/11 Commission, to research, evaluate and synthesize the entire crisis once the pandemic is over. A very large tome with small print and thin paper will be released a couple of years from now for anyone in the public who has the time and inclination to actually read it. But its main points will be publicized and talked about.

Will this lead to dialogue to deal with the very serious problems threatening our democracy? Probably, among some people. But I’m sorry to say, I think most people will return to their former lives (if they still have jobs, that is) as much as they are able – the life they knew that was comfortable. Yet, we won’t be the same. What characteristic will linger when we are all free to roam the world again? After 9/11, it was fear. Post-pandemic, it might be pathological individualism. We’ve fought the good fight, we came out of it with a shaky economy but we can get back to where we were. And now we want our individual lives back.

(All photos except the last one were downloaded from Google Images. The last photo is my own – we found hand sanitizer at Walgreens!)

L-APC: A Change of Scenery During the Pandemic

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #140 is called A Change of Scenery. This week’s host, Wandering Dawgs, says:

I have the honor of hosting this week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge. If you are able to do so, we are challenging you to get out and look for a change of scenery. You don’t have to go far from home. It can be in your neighborhood, town, or even a car ride away. Maybe there is a nearby park you haven’t been to in a while, or maybe you’ve been wanting to try a different route on your walk, run, or bike ride. If you are unable to get out right now, we’d love for you to browse through your archives to feature images from places you have visited in the past when you needed a change of scenery.

We have made a few day trips into the city of Chicago and out to the western and northern suburbs. Here are some “changes of scenery” that we experienced during the pandemic.

In April, we got into the car and just drove. We ended up in Woodstock, IL (where Groundhog Day was filmed). We turned right at this bridge to get to the town.

It was early in the pandemic and few people were out. Woodstock’s downtown has many historic buildings, including an opera house turned theater where musicals and plays are performed. This photo shows the historic town hall – the little building to the right was the original town hall!

In May and June, we visited natural wildlife areas, hoping to get some good photos of birds and other wildlife. We went to Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve twice.

We also went to Volo Bog wildlife preserve, but saw mostly frogs and some pretty flowers, including some wild irises.

In September, we drove out to the western suburbs to see a few places we had read about in the local newspaper. In Wheaton, we explored “Cantigny,” the estate of Col. Robert McCormick, named for Cantigny, France where McCormick had shown exceptional leadership and bravery during World War I. He and his wife are buried on the estate, above the scene of the gardens and pond.

The Inverness Town Hall is notable for the four silo-like towers that dwarf the building itself.

Twice in the fall we visited St. Charles for a sculpture park there. The first time it started to rain before we had seen all the sculptures, so we went back a second time. The main attraction is a sculpture of the Humpty Dumpty-like Mr. Eggwards, who sits on a stone fence alongside the park.

The Chicago Art Institute had reopened with an extended stay of a Monet exhibit, but we went on the one day of the week that it was closed! So we went to nearby Millennium Park instead, and took in the Art Institute on another day. Although it was a beautiful sunny day, we saw few people, because it was during the autumn surge of Covid-19. Most people were not venturing out in order to avoid crowds – which we avoided too, since there weren’t enough people there to be a crowd! Here is the famous “Bean,” our nickname for the Cloud Gate sculpture. Usually one can walk around and under it, but it was roped off.

Now that spring is here, we will soon be venturing out again to explore more of our environs. Since we are fully vaccinated, we may even risk a 2-3 day weekend trip!

SYW: Speak Up or Shut Up, Luck, and Rocks

A new week has arrived and along with it, a new set of questions from Melanie on Share Your World. QUESTIONS:

Do you feel you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?
I like to ask questions. I am very inquisitive and I often go in search of information for answers. If I didn’t ask questions, what would I know? Questioning is vital to gain knowledge. This is why little children ask so many questions, Why this and why that? They have little knowledge and to get more, they have to ask why, although sometimes the adults don’t have answers.

That said, there are certain situations in which I do stop asking questions. If a very annoying person is chatting me up, for example, on an airplane or a bus, and I don’t want to talk to that person, I say what is polite and then turn away. Or when a meeting goes really long, and everyone is fidgeting because they want to get out of there, but I still have a question, I most likely bite my tongue and settle for what I know, with the thought of finding out the answer to my unasked question later or elsewhere.

Asking questions occasionally gets me into trouble; in fact, I lost a teaching job at least partly due to asking a question that my boss (the new principal of the school) didn’t like, because she thought it made her look bad.. She harbored a resentment toward me the entire school year and found fault with me even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She ended up not rehiring me and I wasn’t tenured. But I really did want to know the answer to my question and never really got one.

When did you fail to speak up when you feel you should have?
There was one incident that I still regret not having spoken up – or perhaps if I had realized sooner to put two and two together. I went to a party at a former coworker’s house one summer. When I got there, I was happy to see several of my former coworkers from the school I had loved teaching at, including the principal who I really liked because she had always been supportive of me. I had lost my job in that school district, because they reconfigured the schools into “grade level centers” and by moving people around, they could dispense with nine teachers. I was one of them because after three years, I wasn’t yet tenured. In Illinois teachers don’t get tenure until the end of their fourth year. I was telling the principal about my new job and how happy I was there, even though the pay was extremely low – I’d had to take a program assistant job, because I couldn’t find a teaching position except for substitute teaching, which I was tired of. The principal asked me several times if I was sure I really liked it where I was working, and I kept saying yes.

A short while later, I ran into the other ESL teacher I had worked with at that school and found out she had just retired. I didn’t make any connection at the time and it wasn’t until a day or so later that my dense mind figured it out! The principal had been trying to find out if I would be interested in going back to my former position, but I didn’t realize that at the time. She wanted me to replace the retiring teacher because they really needed a Spanish-speaking ESL teacher, which they lost when I was cut from the district. They had replaced me with another ESL teacher from another school in the district who was tenured.

I realized I should have said something – although I liked the program assistant job, the pay was so low that Dale and I were having trouble keeping a positive balance in our checking account, and if I could have gotten a teaching job in my former district, where I was really happy, I would have taken it. I thought about calling that principal and asking her if the job was still available, but I didn’t. I had convinced myself by that time that in spite of the low pay, I was glad not to have the responsibility of a teaching job. I could go home after work and not have to do more work at home to prepare for the next day or grade papers. I valued that additional leisure time. Even so, I know I would have taken that ESL position back if it had been offered to me and worked for several more years instead of retiring at age 63, when I acquired an inheritance after my mother died.

When was the last time you felt lucky?
A few days ago! Maybe “lucky” isn’t the right word. People have no control over what family circumstances they will be born into. I happened to be lucky to be born into a psychologically and financially stable family. The reason I felt lucky a few days ago is that, when hearing the news of the pandemic, of people who have lost their jobs and depend on the stimulus checks for their financial support right now, for people who have no money, I thought about how lucky I am – a retired, 68-year-old married white woman with a good husband and a wonderful home in a senior community (which most people would be hard pressed to afford). This community provides us with a lot of support during the pandemic and our monthly fee pays for maintenance, snow shoveling, etc. We’ve gotten ahead of others in getting the Covid vaccine, we have a housekeeper who comes once a week, and we don’t have to cook because our meals are delivered to us. We have a beautiful campus where we can walk and see our neighbors (when the weather is good), so we don’t feel so isolated. I thank God every day for my good fortune.

What is a boulder?
It is a large rock. When people talk about avalanches, they usually call the rocks that hurtle down the side of a mountain boulders. Boulder is also a city in Colorado, home of the University of Colorado.

Image result for main campus university of colorado

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)

Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone!  See the answer about feeling lucky above. I am grateful for all I have. While people in Texas are suffering from lack of electricity and water during a freak storm, I am watching their distress on TV in my comfortable home. I am warm and don’t lack for anything. The employees of our community take good care of us.

Image result for gratitude

SYW: Lawlessness, Adulthood, Conspiracies & Beautiful Places

Melanie has some new thoughtful questions this week for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS:

If the government offered to suspend all laws, and law enforcement for 24 hours, letting you (and everybody else) do whatever you wish… Would you be in favor of it, or not?

Absolutely not! There are already enough gun-toting, crazy fanatics out there (and a few in Congress!) ready to make trouble without giving them one more incentive!

What would be the creepiest thing you could say while passing a stranger on the street? (We’re suspending the whole social distancing and Covid involvement in this scenario)

I’m not a creepy person so the only way to scare someone (if that were the objective) would be to act like a lunatic. I’ve had creepy things said to me, but I can’t imagine myself saying those things to others.

As a child, what did you think would be great about being an adult, but isn’t as great as you thought it would be?

Getting married and having kids. Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed both, but there have been plenty of hardships and bad moments. I wanted to have two children and teach them to be good human beings, and feeling proud when they graduated from college and started their careers. I thought I would never get divorced because I would find the right person, my “soul mate.” I also imagined myself having a perfect career. In the end, I got divorced from my first husband and married again when it was no longer feasible to have more children. I had only one child (although I gained a stepdaughter, but I didn’t raise her) and he has suffered many problems due to mental illness. He has had plenty of dead-end jobs but to this date has never fulfilled his career ambitions. I didn’t either, really. I wanted to be a writer or an international journalist. The closest I have come is blogging about places I have been internationally! (And the pay isn’t very good! 😉 )

What, in your opinion, has been blown way out of proportion?

Conspiracy theories. Not the fact that they are reported on, but the fact that so many people actually believe in them. If you really stop and think about some of these wacko scenarios, do you think they sounds realistic? Hillary Clinton running an underage sex trafficking business out of a pizza parlor? It just doesn’t sound plausible at all. Or the idea that the entire Democratic Party is part of a “deep state” plot to turn the United States into a communist country and control the people. Really?? Think about the vast number of people that it would take to pull this off without being caught. Or to promote the lie that the coronavirus is a hoax and mass shootings didn’t happen. Not only is this hurtful to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and mass shootings, but imagine what it would take to actually pull these fake scenarios off, and never having anyone involved in them defect to the other side. Hundreds of scientists would have to have been coerced into promoting the idea that a fast-spreading virus is a hoax and that they (the Democrats, of course) would have to mount some incredible scenes of people in hospitals being tended by harried medical workers and stories they would have to tell about their feelings when they lost patients. Climate change is a hoax? So people are going to believe one or two fringe scientists instead of an entire body of thousands of scientists who can prove climate change is happening? Then one “outsider” (Trump) comes along to “take back” our country from these horrible Democrats who have no compassion at all, just ambition. It just doesn’t make sense.

Of course, there is never any proof for conspiracy theories but much damage has been done because an alarming number of people believe in them and a few feel it is their job to do something about it.

Gratitude Section (Optional as always)

Where is your ‘happy’ place?  

Sightseeing in a place that inspires awe. In other words, traveling to foreign lands or being privileged to see places that make me grateful to be alive.

“Recalculating…” – Maps vs. GPS

Truthful Tuesday

It’s Truthful Tuesday time again and the question this week is as follows:

When it comes to navigation in unfamiliar territory, do you shun technology, relying on traditional maps and written directions, or do you leave the atlas behind letting GPS and Google Maps guide the way?

We always have a road atlas on hand when we go on road trips to get an overall idea of the route, mileage, etc. When I plan trips (I do the planning, Dale does the driving!), I use a road map so I can map out where to go and how to get there. That way, we can wend our way through a state and see a number of things without having to backtrack. I use the Internet as well as guide books to plan where to go.

However, we use the car’s GPS system (in my car; in his car, we use Google maps on his phone) when we are on the road to make sure we don’t get lost.

This is good because Dale and I have had arguments in the past when we used paper maps – I would tell him to turn right but for whatever reason he turned left because he didn’t believe me. I WAS LOOKING AT THE DARN MAP!! And I was a good navigator too. But when walking, I tend to get mixed up using the GPS on my phone and am better off with a small paper map of the area. I’m thinking of the times we tried to find restaurants in Sao Paulo which were close to where we were staying but somehow the GPS disoriented us and we ended up going somewhere else we happened to find when we were lost getting to the place we were looking for. In Tel Aviv, we stood on a street corner with the phone GPS in hand, arguing about which way we were supposed to go to get back to our hotel after exploring a shopping mall.

I don’t have that problem with road maps or most of the time with the GPS in my car. However, we have gotten lost when the GPS didn’t know the way! Once we were going from Highland Park to Highwood, two north suburbs in the Chicago metro area very close to each other, but the GPS led us way out of the way and after driving for about 20 miles, I said, “I don’t think this is right.” My sister had said the restaurant where we were meeting was five minutes from the place we were coming from. It wasn’t a brand new street address, either, so I don’t know what “Jeanie” (which is what we named the GPS voice on my car) was thinking. The only other problem with GPS systems is that we may enter an address, the official address of the place, but we end up on a busy street with a wall next to us, and we know the place we are going is behind that wall, but where is the entrance?? The entrance is not always the same as the address.

Therefore, I recommend having a paper map if possible as well as the GPS. Locally, the GPS usually gets us where we need to go, even if sometimes Dale takes what he thinks is a shorter way (and turns out usually to be wrong). And imagine if something happens to the phone or the car and technology isn’t available? This can happen in remote areas when there is spotty Wifi service, and then the GPS may not work at all.

My favorite GPS system is Waze.

Wazeopedia - For the Community, By the Community

It’s a free app for your phone and works best when there are two people in the car – one to drive and the other to look at Waze. People can input problems they encounter on a road – police in vicinity, car on side of the road, traffic jams, etc. It also identifies red light cameras so you can follow the speed limit when you are near one! I recommend it for anyone who does a lot of city driving. You can earn points and eventually choose your own Waze avatar!

It’s much less nerve-wracking to have a GPS in the car one is driving than depending on a map and nowadays we can usually count on any rental car we get having one. The GPS in our rental in France was great, once we figured out how to use it – it was very counterintuitive and each time we got it right, we couldn’t remember what we did the next time we got into the car! That GPS voice was British and announced everything in meters and kilometers, of course, but I loved her – we dubbed her “Eleanor.”