Post 19: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re a group of friends and family in various parts of the world, and we’re sharing our experiences and thoughts while on lockdown, in quarantine, or self-isolation. Join us!

Hi…keefak…ça va?

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

This is how the Lebanese greet one another, in a multi-language mode. English, Arabic, and French. The Lebanese are an amazing, adaptable, intelligent, and resilient lot.

This resilience is something I have the utmost respect for. Not much respect for much else that is happening in this country, but resilience – lots of respect. 

#Lebanon has always and will always be, a geo-political epicenter. A very open and supposedly democratic country in the otherwise closed up Middle East. Survival is a gene, not a modus operandi. From the days of Alexander the Great to the civil war to the current political turmoil the Lebanese have a fatalistic approach to life. Come what may…anything is better than what we have now…to me, the Lebanese gods must be crazy. 

Towards the end of each month, direct debit salaries are deposited into our accounts and since the total fiasco of our banking system, we can only withdraw at the ATM. This week, everyone went to collect their salaries and social distancing became a thing of the past. I totally agree that people need their money specially during this lockdown. But to see #COVID-19 spreading at every ATM and in busy streets is beyond acceptable. 

Part of the problem in this country is that no one in power ever had any logic. So many of our problems can and should be resolved with simple implementation of logic and follow up (which we don’t do well due to corruption). 

An example of this is double parking. The police are required to give tickets for double parking, but the places that people double park at, bribe the police with food, drinks, and cigarettes. No accountability. I will not discuss the no-smoking in public places and how that fell down like a house of cards.

Our current curfew states that Corona travels only between 7 pm and 5 am, it sleeps during the day when most people are out and about. 

What I do not respect, though, is the defiant attitude of some. Those who feel they are immune to the #Coronavirus. Those who are too poor and need to work (I totally respect them) but are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their close ones (that’s my problem with them). Those who feel that politics supersede Corona. We are not infallible. 

But solutions are available during this lockdown if we use our greatest asset: the resilient Lebanese brain:

  1. Curfew all day with different regions allowed a 3-hour window to run errands on different days. 
  2. Police or municipality officials standing at ATMs and shops to maintain social distancing. Oversight is required by responsible citizens or police officers (with no bribes!)
  3. Police or our army surrounding non-curfew regions so no flow of traffic happens between areas.
  4. Official passes that can be obtained online for essential workers to travel between regions. No special favors or bribes again! 
  5. Official passes that can be obtained by taxi drivers allowing them to work in certain areas on certain days. This can be organized by license plate numbers.
  6. Penalties and fines for those who break the law.

I know many fellow responsible citizens have other ideas and I would love to hear them so that we can present a plan to some of the  illogical people running the show. 

I can’t hear anymore so-called experts on daily shows saying absolutely nothing that we don’t already know. Action is required and is a must and only we, the responsible citizens, can implement this “general mobilization” into a real solution. 

My plan for the future, once we go back to normalcy, is for another day. But since we are known for our resilience, I am hoping that I will be resilient enough to do it one day. Baby steps.

Yalla…good night cheri.

This is what Beirut looks like under lockdown.
Photo retrieved from The961.com

Food for thought

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Today I’m feeling guilty. Here I am in the Western world, upset that I have had to stay home in my warm, comfortable house. Listening to the news coverage on tv about our insufficient hospital supplies and frustrated by the lack of a home delivery time slot from Whole Foods. 

How shallow am I?

What about the others in less developed countries? I think of them daily, but I never stopped to really comprehend the gravity of their destitution. 

There are refugees all over the world living in makeshift housing. Many live in tents because they fled their war-torn countries and are living in such close quarters with no access to electricity, soap, or clean water. Do they even have access to physicians? 

I wonder who looks out for them. 

Who is caring for the people of Africa who are always hit hard by most epidemics? I’ve read that some countries that have one ventilator per every 200,000 people if they are lucky.

What about the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who live under occupation? Gaza is 20 miles long and 5-7 miles wide and inhabited by almost 2 million people. The inhabitants of Gaza have been under Israeli military blockade and “lockdown” for decades. They have limited access to the outside world. And now the coronavirus has made its way into Gaza. 

This #Coronavirus does not discriminate based on ethnicity nor religion. But it still hits the poor and underprivileged the hardest and with a lack of basic recourses, it can be devastating. 

The UN and the WHO and the IMF are all predicting that the outcome of the pandemic will be catastrophic in developing countries and areas where healthcare is non-existent. They are asking the Western world to step up and help financially. 

Meanwhile, a news headline flashes on my phone. There are now 6.6 million people who have filed for unemployment in the USA. 

I saw this today and thought, how true! 


RafifJ is taking a little break tonight…but says,

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Post 18: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re a group of friends and family in various parts of the world, and we’re sharing our experiences and thoughts while on lockdown, in quarantine, or self-isolation. Join us – be like Michael, below – guest posts welcome!

Mind the Gap

Michael D. Purzycki, Arlington, Virginia

Those of us who are fairly young, and who grew up middle or upper class but had working class grandparents, can easily feel inadequate when we compare ourselves with them. To the extent that we can understand what a Depression and a World War are like, we don’t want to go through those struggles ourselves. But compared to a generation that built bridges, dammed rivers, and defeated the Axis, it’s very easy for us to feel weak, lazy, irrelevant, and inferior.

For many Americans, #coronavirus might bring us closer than anything else to the experiences of our grandparents and great-grandparents. While social distancing is much less painful than soup lines and ration books, this is the first time a lot of us have been called upon to sacrifice. I don’t mean being deprived of opportunities, like the financial crisis did to us. I mean having to actively give something up, having to agree to limits on our daily lives for the common good.

There are three things I hope will happen because of COVID-19, things that might narrow the gap my generation (I’m 34) sees between our weakness and our grandparents’ toughness. They will be good, whether or not they happen because of government. In fact, for us to really appreciate them, we will have to embrace and insist on them regardless of what our politicians want.

I hope we start saving more and spending less. After living through the Depression, the Greatest Generation sacrificed even more material comforts during the war. They went along with food rationing and grew Victory Gardens. They carpooled and drove more slowly to save fuel and rubber. They gave up pots, pans, and even wrought-iron fences, so the metal could be turned into tanks, ships, and planes.

Many of us Millennials growing up in late 20th century affluence couldn’t understand why our grandparents were so frugal, why they held on to so many things for so long. Even the Great Recession, and all the ways it held us back, didn’t really make us less consumers and more savers. Healthcare and housing were expensive, but Amazon Prime and Uber weren’t, and Facebook and Twitter, with all the enticing ads they showed, were free. Maybe the new uncertainty, the restrictions financial and otherwise we face as we flatten the curve, will make us more reluctant spenders overall.

I hope there are a lot more chances to serve. We are long past the age when we needed a large percentage of us to put on uniforms and pick up guns, and hopefully we’ll never see those days again. But we’re learning just how important good government – or the lack of it – is for all of us, how important it is to have public officials and public servants who know what to do and do it well.

What if, besides military service, young Americans had the chance to spend a few years building hospitals and medical equipment, or inspecting food and medication to make sure they’re safe, or paving roads and streets? That would be great to have. That would be a great way to narrow the gap between the iPhone generation and the generation of GI Joe and Rosie the Riveter.

Finally, strangely, I hope our elected leaders become more distant from us. We’ve grown accustomed to politicians acting like our friends, pretending to understand our problems, avoiding saying anything bad about anyone who might give them a vote or a dollar. I’d rather they stopped acting. I’d rather they spent their time gathering information, listening to experts, and making cool-headed decisions behind closed doors, not holding photo ops and proclaiming that they have the situation under control.

I like the fact that, when Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders had their last debate, there was no live audience. That should be the case at all debates. Politicians don’t need any more incentives to seek applause than they already have. It would be great if, even when it’s safe to gather in large numbers again, politicians didn’t feel the need to be surrounded by adoring crowds.

Coronavirus may not disrupt the world the way a depression combined with a world war can. But if the disruption it brings to daily life makes spenders more frugal, citizens more service-minded, and politicians more level-headed and less boastful, we will all be better off.

Author Bio: Michael D. Purzycki is a researcher and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He has worked in the Pentagon, at Bloomberg, and for a Los Angeles-based media company. He has written for many publications, including Better Angels, Charged Affairs, Divergent Options, Merion West, and the Washington Monthly.


Our Daily Bread

RafifJ, Malaga, Spain

It’s hard to stay angry in #Malaga, especially when the sun is out. Walking toward the fresh market, I realized again that this city always feels like it’s giving me a big hug.

Today I took a break from work and lockdown to go out (grocery shopping). I enjoyed every step along the quiet streets. I basked in the sunshine. I thought about the shuttered shops I was passing on my way to the market. Whatever happened to the hairdresser, the one whose husband lives in Granada? Are they reunited – or separated by the current travel restrictions? And what about the cranky lady at the bakery, the one who occasionally cracks a smile at my wish for her to have a “buen dia” after she hands me freshly baked bread?

As I made my way to the fresh market, I noticed the streets: they were glistening, fresh from their daily “bath.” Seriously. In Malaga, street cleaners literally wash the streets with soap and water.

Retrieved from 123RF.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

Strangers in unexpected roles have become my heroes. Not to take anything away from medical professionals – they are, as they say in Arabic, “on my head.” But those who so often go unnoticed – the grocer, the street cleaner – are now also front and center in the fight for normalcy. We should have known this; I should have been thanking them more every day. Every one of them should get at least a “buen dia” for their service.

So now, when I get the chance to step outside, it will be with a different perspective. I’ll look at people through different lenses. I’ll remember to thank the street cleaner and the baker and all the others who keep the shelves stocked and the bugs at bay. I’ll thank them for their service to the community, and hope the city gives them a hug too.


Online/Offline Bad Hair Day

RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Due to the current lockdowns, I sit here listening to my husband click on the keyboard as he presents an online course (he is answering students on a discussion thread). Five straight hours husband-sitting in case he needs my genius technical support.

What would we do without Internet, technology, devices, social media? I’m holding my phone as I write this – I have completed every chore I do on my phone on a daily basis: read the headlines, play my word games, check my emails, answer my messages. But I am vehemently resisting going on social media. Battery at 54%.

I feel that there is too much positivity and negativity on social media and I am actually tired of all the news. Corona, #COVID-19, pets being abandoned, challenges, jokes, good articles, bad advice. Exhausting. I am also very down today. Bloody time, me thinks!

So, after the 5 hours, my thoughts rotate to decisions:

  1. Take a break and do something different that doesn’t require a device. Battery at 32% now…(Took a nap, highly unusual)
  2. Do some random act of kindness to someone who doesn’t expect it. Not an April Fool’s prank because no one can deal right now…(sent a donation to a poor refugee family)
  3. Do something nice for myself and my family (didn’t snap at anyone – up to the time of writing)
  4. Enjoy the moment (ummmm…not working thus far.)

I am sorry not to be upbeat or funny today. It’s a bad online/offline hair day. Battery at 0%.

Retrieved from cellularforless.com
via Google Images.
No copyright infringement intended.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

This is a story about Jack and Jill.

Well, it’s really about my husband and me. (yes that is grammatically correct) You see I had to change the names because he said “ I hope you are not writing about me in your blog” and I answered of course not, that would be so boring. Heheh !!! but I’ll write about Jack.

Jack and Jill have been married 24 years. Jack has been the greatest example of someone who sets their mind on something and achieves it. He decided he would retire early and worked his ass off to reach that goal on 1/1/2020.

So many people were commiserating with Jill because she was now joining the ranks of “retired husband makes wife crazy” league. They asked questions and give advice.

“What is he going to do all day?”

“Does he have hobbies? “

“This happened to my friend and 2 months after he retired she ended up going back to work. “

“Tina..er I mean Jill, you need to find outlets for your own sanity.”

Jill was not worried because she and her husband had a lot of hobbies and a lot in common. So for the months of January and February Jack and Jill had no problem with each other’s company. They balanced their time together and their time apart.

They went out to DC to museums and restaurants, they went to happy hour and movies and took short trips together. Jill was reassured that this was going to be just fine.

All was perfect until mid March when the coronavirus changed everything.

Forced to stay home, Jack and Jill were becoming irritable and very short- tempered. Simple discussions became arguments and Netflix hardly had any movies that were both interested in.

In addition, Jack is technology challenged so when the computer runs out of ink he yells for Jill. When the music system is acting up he yells for Jill. And when the ice maker wasn’t making ice … you guessed it… he yells for Jill.

Jill was going a little mad. Until they found the one thing that still appealed to the two of them – Happy Hour and a bottle named Tito’s ! This was a game changer. The music played and they danced. Not together, but they danced.

Well cheers to you all! Here is to an end of this captivity and a quick return “normalcy!”


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Post 14: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Day 14. The days are dragging on, and we are nowhere near resolution of the #CoronaCrisis. We’re still chronicling our experiences, though. Join us!


We have so much great stuff here tonight, I decided to save my own post for tomorrow. Read on to hear from Tina F,. Sunny M., Norma B. Wallace, and RDJ. And surprise! We have a little song for you at the end, so put on your dancing shoes. ~ RafifJ


COVID-19, a Crime Buster

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

A thought crossed my mind…Surely with everyone staying home due to the #coronavirus, the crime rate would also be on the decline. To verify this, I read many online articles reporting on the rate of crimes during the lockdown. 

Indeed, many states have reported a decline in crime. For example, Chicago police saw a 17% overall drop in its major crime categories, among them robbery, burglary, and aggravated battery. I can just imagine thieves rethinking their strategies before attacking someone or entering a home that my be contaminated by the #coronavirus. 

Some states are reporting acts of vandalism against businesses that have had to close temporarily. People are throwing rocks into storefronts, and some are pilfering just for the heck of it. This is costing the already suffering store owners substantial amounts of money for repairs. 

A funny report covered the story that businesses are locking their toilets because people were stealing their toilet paper. It reminded me of a trip I took to Bulgaria when I was very young. Any time we entered a public toilet, we had to pay something like 10 cents to the old lady guarding the toilets. Then she would unlock the door and hand us 3 squares of toilet paper each. Ah! those were the days of luxury. 

Back to crime …. it turns out the biggest criminals are in fact working from home. They sit comfy and cozy at their computers committing cyber crime. 

These “clever” shysters had anticipated the shortage of hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and medical supplies and had stockpiled the products only to sell them at exorbitant price hikes on legitimate sites like eBay and Amazon. Others were creating fake 3rd party sites on marketplaces such as Amazon. These sites offer products supposedly on slight back order. They run your credit card details and send you phony shipping information for products you will never receive. 

Other criminals are exploiting people’s fears during the pandemic. Cyber attackers are sending bogus emails impersonating the World Health Organization with infected links to “important” health information, only to hijack your personal information. Others pose as charities collecting money for research. They claim that your donations will help find a cure.  

This is nothing new. Cyber attacks have been committed for decades, but I just feel so angry that no matter how dire the situation is in the world, there is always a group of people (other than politicians) waiting to take advantage of us when we are at our most vulnerable. 

I ask you to be diligent. Don’t fall for these scams and please don’t open any email attachments if you don’t know the sender is legitimate.


It’s Come to This. A Gimme Cap and a Dirty Oven

Sunny, the Global Cowgirl® in Frederick, MD

The Hell Train called Corona just keeps rolling down the track headed toward a mountain where no one’s dug a tunnel.

Just get a gander at the state of my oven. This is the reward for hunkering down, staying put, and cooking for myself!? Now I gotta figure out how to operate the Self-Clean feature on the blessed thing. I’m certain that’ll necessitate taking a Udemy online course just to make sure I don’t burn down my condo. Oops, better make sure my fire insurance is paid up.

To add indignity to inconvenience, I’m now sporting a gimme cap. Gotta do that to hide my skunk roots. Time for me will now be measured in the width of my skunk roots. I’m at Corona, Week 3 now.

By the way, I’m not including a pic of me in a gimme cap. Wearing one of those is wrong on soooo many levels.


A Week of Changing Weather
and Emotions

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, Oregon

Last week you met Puffin when I walked to the river. It was a sunny and beautiful day. I came home and put my chairs on the deck so I could enjoy the sun while I read. After all, I would have lots of time to read.

Wednesday I woke up to snow. Although beautiful – it’s cold. Today is overcast; not a blue patch in the sky. So the weather changes, so my emotions go.

Last week full of hope: we will get through this. Then: will it ever end?

Anger at the lack of leadership in the US — I don’t need to explain that one.  Hope that the leadership will change. Fear that it will not change soon enough. Hope that the experts’ views will prevail. Fear that the #Coronavirus will kill us all. Hope that a vaccine will be found or at least a cure.  

Feeling lonely to feeling so good because I have such a wonderful family who call, neighbors who deliver groceries to my porch, friendly waves as they walk by my house, hearing the clapping from the balconies in Spain.

Yes, I will end there. The sun is trying to come out. I must end with hope and still, my heart goes out to all who have hardships and personal losses.


On positive loneliness

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

A dear friend once told me, “enjoy your loneliness, your positive loneliness.”

To this day, his words always come back to me. At the time I was living alone, just coming out of a bad relationship, 38 something old, thinking the end of the world has arrived. When we were on one of our lunch dates, he said those wise words to me.

Since that day, whenever I feel lonely, I turn my loneliness into positivity. It’s magic. I know in these apocalyptic times, we all don’t think of anything positive, but we must.

I turn to social media and it’s all negative. Death, coffins, more statistics on Corona. But we don’t look at how many recoveries: 600,000-some cases worldwide but almost 136,000 recoveries. That’s a 23% recovery rate! Hooha!

I start my Groundhog Day again at 6 am but see myself coming up with a busy day doing things I have been postponing for years. Hooha again!

So today, tomorrow, next week, turn your loneliness into a positive and see how, with time, you begin to enjoy the time alone. It will feed your negative energy into positivity.

Now I am going to take out my binoculars and stare at Venus and the moon again. It’s a beautiful sight. Big HOOHA!


I Will Survive (Coronavirus)

Sent by Anonymous to the friend of a friend

DRUM ROLL…MUSIC…

At first I wasn’t scared. Now I’m petrified.
Coronavirus closing in on me from every side.
And so I spend all of my days reading everything I can I understand
That human contact must be banned.

And so I’m here, Inside my space
I just looked out and there are people. I just saw somebody’s face!

I would have bought that stupid mask, I would have stocked up on TP
If I had known for just one second they’d come anywhere near me.
No I won’t go, outside my door. I turn around now. 'Cause I’m not leaving anymore.

That orange man keeps try’n to tell me it’s OK
I don’t believe him. And so right here is where I’ll stay.

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I can stay alone, I know I'll stay alive!

I've got all my life to live, And I've got no disease to give
I will survive, I will survive...

Hey, hey!

It takes all the strength I have not to venture out
I’m trying hard to entertain myself and go without
And I spend oh-so-many nights binging HBO and Prime, It is a crime
But now I have to kill the time... 
and watch TV...I’m getting fat..I'm just a chained up little person. Not the old gym rat.

Don’t even think of dropping in and just expect to talk to me, Cause I'm saving all my talkin’ for the day we’re virus free..

Go on now, go, please leave my door
Just turn around now, 'Cause no one’s welcome anymore!

That orange man keeps try’n to tell me it’s OK.
I don’t believe him, And so right here is where I’ll stay

Oh no, not I, I will survive!
Oh, as long as I can stay alone, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
 And I've got no disease to give. 

I will survive
I will survive
Hey, hey!

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