Everything’s relative in life, and yesterday will not be tomorrow | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

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An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Everything’s relative in life, and yesterday will not be tomorrow

Uploaded: May 19, 2020
We all react to the coronavirus in different ways. Some people are locked behind their doors; others question the shutdown; some say they will never catch it so why go through all this; Eric Trump called it a Democratic hoax and said the virus will magically disappear after Election Day.

And there are the locals here who have different reactions. “It feels like Groundhog Day every day,” one said.

A friend of mine was hosting a women’s Christian church discussion group and nearly everyone was talking about the quarantine. Most of the women complained about loneliness, wanting more social contact, and wished all those closed clothing stores would reopen. But one woman sent my head spinning. She told the group that she felt this was much worse than the Holocaust! She thought this experience of being at home was terrible and she couldn’t take it anymore. Yet how can anyone compare the terrors of those encampments with staying behind closed doors in your own comfortable suburban house?

A nurse once told me she was working with a patient who had a torn-off fingernail. The nurse asked her on a 1–to-10 scale, how bad the pain was. “Ten,” she declared. The nurse tried again. “If a shark bit off your arm, which is very painful, how would you describe your fingernail pain?” “Ten!” she responded.

Everything’s relative in life.

That reminded me of a time when I was managing editor of a Chicago newspaper and my budget was suddenly cut in half by the publisher, who was having some hard financial times. I could fire five of my ten employees or put everyone on part-time. Three of them had no other support than their salaries. I was also going through a divorce and had to appear in court in two days. One of my kids was home from school sick and I kept on calling him every half hour to see how he was doing, and drove home to feed him lunch.

That afternoon one of my staff members called me and said she couldn’t get the story in by Monday because her in-laws were coming to town and she has been so upset the last three days because she can’t decide whether to bake a strawberry or blueberry pie for them. “It’s been a terrible week, she complained. I thought a moment and then said to her, “Let’s talk next week, Julie,” and I hung up.

People create their own problems.

And there’s a 19-year–old I know who said she wanted to go to the beach in Santa Cruz and she wasn’t going to wear a mask because she hated them and just wanted to have a good time. So much for thinking of others before yourself.

. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

The coronavirus has led me to an examination of all that we do. In Sunday’s Mercury, there was mention of halting all public transit projects, because people will not want to use public transit for a long time and maybe we don’t need to bring BART to San Jose or electrify Caltrain. Just five weeks ago those were top priorities on our “improve public transit” lists. Some other article suggested removing the carpool lanes because in this new age of contagion we may not want to share our car with some other rider.

And then there are all the suggestions that perhaps in the near, and possibly the far future, we will all be working from home more. It’s certainly more convenient, the hours are more flexible, and other than lack of social contact, it seems like a pleasant way to work.

Will our proposed new proposals for working at home really work?

So think it through. Can you tolerate the aloneness all day long? Will you be as effective a worker compared to how you perform at work? I found I was always interrupting my work-at-home routine with throwing in a load of wash, and then putting it in the dryer, and running the dishwasher (and then unloading it), and charging off to the grocery store to buy stuff for dinner. Sure, I could work after dinner, but I soon fond myself watching some of my favorite TV shows.

These are things we have to all figure out. Maybe we can become creative and work one week at the office and one week at home, or alternative days. Maybe some of us would prefer to stay home and work, but if I was the boss, how can I be sure they are really working eight hours a day?

It will be an interesting topic to think about as we restructure our lives and our work as a result of this coronavirus. But our lives have changed, and I doubt we can go back to yesterday and the way we were.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   5 people like this
Posted by mjh, a resident of College Terrace,
on May 19, 2020 at 1:03 pm

"Some other article suggested removing the carpool lanes because in this new age of contagion we may not want to share our car with some other rider."

And yet, at a time when city services such as teen programs, children's programs, library hours, etc. etc. our being cut to the bone if not eliminated our city manager and council has voted to transfer $750 million transfer to the Transport Demand Management program for commuters.

And last night at council spent an hour or more considering the link between scheduled public transit lines and encouraging future development, using pre-Covid19 numbers. Numbers that are extremely questionable if people avoid travelling in enclosed spaces with strangers.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 19, 2020 at 8:58 pm

So much here. So many different ways to take this. I could say a lot, but will leave two points to start.

We are social beings. We like living in family units, in communities, and even those who live alone, still want to be able to share life with others. We have known this for a long time. The greatest punishment for bad behavior in prison or internment camps (excepting a death sentence) is solitary confinement. Those prisoners who experience the isolation for days or even weeks, long for the return to prison society. Living alone for those who have to do so, whether young and single, middle aged and divorced, or a widowed senior, all appear to yearn for their social circles rather than the non-stop aloneness at home. Whether it be a social circle, a church or similar group, extended family or a special someone who may or may not be a romantic partner, a best bud, BFF is a skin and flesh fellow human being, not a virtual friend behind a screen.

Whenever we travel through times of trouble and concern as a society, we want to console ourselves with others and we want to celebrate with others. We have just celebrated the anniversary of VE day, we are reminded of the fact that everyone went out in the streets to celebrate, often with complete strangers. The end of hostilities, the promise of peace, were not celebrated at home in small household units, but out with the neighborhood at large.

Likewise, at 9/1l, a time of fear, terror, pain, we still needed to reach out to others. We wanted to touch, to hug, to cry on each other's shoulders, to reach out to loved ones who were nearby and not so close.

At such times, in times of happiness, in times of profound sadness, the physical touch of another human being was comforting, was important and was necessary. People gathered in churches who had never been in the habit of doing so. People did not want to be alone.

So why should we be surprised when in a time of pandemic people didn't want to isolate. At first, the family unit closed ranks, but once again people felt the need to reach out to others, to help others, to feel part of a community, to show concern. Once again, people want to congregate in social circles, in church groups (even virtual church groups). The need to go shopping in all those closed clothing stores is more the desire for meeting a friend to do the active shopping trip probably with a friend, the trying on of new outfits, the social aspect of shopping and interacting with someone who says how much the outfit suits, and probably the joy of sharing lunch with the shopping partner.

We are social beings. We should not be surprised that the forbidden pleasure of spending time in the company of other people like us is something that becomes a deep felt need, rather than a passing whim of boredom.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by People Trivialize Life Itself, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 20, 2020 at 9:25 am

Key insights from this article...

> "People create their own problems."

^^^ So true and the examples cited illustrate a trivialization of life itself.

>> "Eric Trump called it a Democratic hoax and said the virus will magically disappear after Election Day."

^^^ Thus it proves that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. Regardless of where the COVID-19 is suspected to have originated, the scientific community is now immensely relieved.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by mjh, a resident of College Terrace,
on May 20, 2020 at 11:19 am

mjh is a registered user.

"$750 million transfer to the Transport Demand Management program for commuters."

My above post should read $750K.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Touch vs public health, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 20, 2020 at 11:37 am

Resident what are the metrics for shutting down during the second wave?

Or should our supposed requirements for touchy/feely overcome public health?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 20, 2020 at 11:46 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Resident --

How nicely you put it - we are social animals and we need to talk and see and touch each other. Zoom is an uncomfortable substitute. Telephone conversations are better (and thank Go we at least have telephones) but there is some inner need to actually be with people, in ways most of us have never before experienced.

It starts way back. I had a best friend so declared, in first grade. In college, I never wanted a single room -- triples were my preferred way of sharing a room. And in my adult life, raising kids have always brought me together with other parents.

So I hope we can capture and remember these feelings and when this terrible virus is gone, remember and rekindle our need for our friends, neighbors, and people in general.

We are learning a lot about ourselves.

Diana


 +   4 people like this
Posted by J.U., a resident of another community,
on May 20, 2020 at 12:30 pm

I don't agree that the examples show the trivialization of life, I think they show a variety of perspectives, some may be due to age or brain development, selfishness (which can be both negative AND positive - positive example: saying "no" is selfish, but how can you trust someone who can't set a boundary?), deep driving need, etc. The deep driving needs may be the most difficult to understand as they can have so many origins and manifest on things that appear so trivial, but that's too much to delve into here :)

Web Link - basic article on the need for touch, more generally oriented (but, if you do a basic search on lack of touch, the effects on babies will break your heart, but for here we are talking general populace).

We create our own problems... yep, often we do, and the problems we, as a society, are creating through fear are looking to be far more devastating than the originating cause... kind of like getting covid-19 vs having covid-19 and then your body triggering a cytokine storm. Let's not cytokine storm our country and the lives of more people than covid-19 on it's own could ever do! [Portion removed.]


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 21, 2020 at 11:33 am

Thanks Diana, for your comment to me.

Another big concern has to be our mental health but also our general medical health. How many people are afraid to go and get a physical at present? How many are not getting dental work done? How many mammograms, pap tests, and then heart attacks, cancer, strokes, are going to be a lot more serious through lack of routine and preventative care?

Are people compensating by eating more and exercising less. What types of problems will that have on us? Will there be increases in obesity, diabetes, etc. through all this less healthy living.

How about addictions, alcoholism, even those who smoke tobacco? Are there increases in these? Having lived with a very heavy smoker in the past, I know that this smoker would indeed be smoking a lot more through this. Other addictions to things like pornography are probably increasing also.

Then there is the likelihood of more domestic violence, particularly in relationships where this has not been an issue before. A simple argument about taking out the trash or emptying the dishwasher can escalate into major abuse. What about child abuse, a parent taking out their frustrations on a child seems very possible.

Then suicides. Depression. Panic Attacks. The list can go on.

Isolation and lack of purpose take the human psyche to places where it would not normally go. If people are denying themselves, or being denied, an outlet to get away from the four walls that surround them, the four walls can turn into a prison rather than a place of solace or safety.

I think we are going to be paying for these months of sheltering in place. The economics are what people are talking about and that is serious enough. But the wellbeing of our mental health and physical health will come to light also.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Magic Thinking, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on May 21, 2020 at 11:57 am

"I think we are going to be paying for these months of sheltering in place. "

100,000 deaf Americans in a couple months.

You think that mental health issues would have been reduced if we remained open and had 400,000 dead, instead?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Suzanne Keehn, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 21, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Suzanne Keehn is a registered user.

Diana, Thank you again, for writing and sharing such truth from your own experience. So many of us are so blessed, and more are having such hard experiences, working or health, etc. It is time the 'for profit' motive above people, whose work actually make the money, to cease. We as the U.S. need to come to value each person/soul as part of ourselves. Then we couldn't mistreat anybody.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Wake up!, a resident of Mountain View,
on May 21, 2020 at 2:39 pm

@Suzanne, trying to understand what your post means. Truly, I don't understand what you're saying, can you explain?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Taken Aback, a resident of another community,
on May 22, 2020 at 8:47 am

Not sure if this question is for Diana Diamond or other moderators but:

What is up with the comments and how they are moderated? There seems to even be confusion from the bloggers, see stephen levy May 17, 2020 at 3:20 pm response to Wake Up here Web Link

I see many comments when removed have an explanation left behind (I like this), but then there is the confusion noted above where the comment was removed before the blogger even saw it, and then on this blog J.U. had posted a link to a story I'd heard 20 years ago and always liked, The Toaist Farmer, and I see that it's gone... so with no note explaining, and most importantly notifying the rest of us, that comment was altered and left up. Does the remaining comment continue to reflect J.U.'s opinion?

The Terms of Use say “we may edit, remove or lock content you post on PaloAltoOnline.com at our sole discretion for any reason, even if not specifically addressed in this Terms of Use." Of course, legally and practically, you need this, but it would be great to have a note in all cases of alteration or deletion that indicates what was done and why. Particularly with alterations it should be the rule.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by the edits, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 22, 2020 at 10:48 am

"Of course, legally and practically, you need this, but it would be great to have a note in all cases of alteration or deletion that indicates what was done and why."

Dougie does it all: sometimes an edit, sometimes deleted with note (often of dubious veracity,) sometimes just disappeared.

A real 3 tool playa!


 +   4 people like this
Posted by J.U., a resident of another community,
on May 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

My comment above is only part of what I submitted. I request that if my entire comment is not to be displayed, that you remove the whole thing; to be only partially represented is very uncomfortable, and made even worse that no note was made that the comment was truncated, preferably with an explanation of why.

I have appreciated your blogging, Ms. Diamond, and the lively exchanges on this platform, but now I have grave concerns; @Wake Up had comments removed, but I had understood they were removed in their entirety, however, with this experience I now wonder at the authenticity of the exchanges.

Douglas Moran seemed to have a good policy when he was handling comment deletes on his posts; the entry was left so all knew it existed, but he replaced the message with a note on why it wasn't showing.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by home of the bloggers, a resident of The Greenhouse,
on May 22, 2020 at 4:44 pm

> Douglas Moran seemed to have a good policy when he was handling comment deletes on his posts; the entry was left so all knew it existed, but he replaced the message with a note on why it wasn't showing.

Not true. He frequently deletes posts that expose a position of his as false, with no explanation or evidence of the original post. His deletions were pretty easy to document.

Well, that was months ago; I don't bother with his posts anymore as they are just a club of a couple of the usual posters patting each other on their backs about their latest fringe theory. Facts were not appreciated.

It shows in the amount of posts and views - he is consistently *annihilated* by the other bloggers in terms of views, particularly by the ladies.

Awwwww......


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