We hold these truths to be self-evident:
One of our greatest skills as human beings is the ability to hold both of these views at the same time, often within the same conversation, sometimes within the same sentence. If mental gymnastics was an Olympic event, we’d qualify for Team USA.
In reality, though, each of us is a sample size of one. That makes each of us unique, but it also means none of us is an average Jane. We’re all empowered by and trapped in the circumstances of our lives and our journeys, so we all see things a bit differently.
In my corner of the world, the Coronavirus is real, the state is woefully behind in managing the vaccination rollout, local businesses are suffering along with their landlords, and very few people are arguing about masks. When I’m writing these posts, that state of the world is part of my foundation, even though it might not be a match for a good number of readers.
Many of you live in areas where the economies have stayed open almost nonstop or in places where wearing a mask, or not, is cause for a confrontation. For all of us, our sense of how the pandemic is unfolding will draw more from what we see in our personal lives than from the news. Yes, we’ll read the stories and check out the videos, but the sources we pick and the way we interpret the news will depend heavily on what we, individually, think is the reality.
If we know people who have battled Covid, or lost the war, we’re more likely to take the whole thing very seriously. If we don’t know anyone who has had to deal with the situation, it’s more remote and less threatening. There are tons of exceptions, because each of us brings unique combinations of experience to the conversation, but all of us tend to focus more on our own friends, our own communities, our own challenges.
That’s the crazy part about all our interactions with other people. We think we’re talking to someone else who is like us, but we might be mis-communicating about almost everything. We’re usually aware of it when we’re talking to a doctor or a lawyer or some other specialist whose language is clearly different from our own. The gaps are less obvious when we’re engaged with someone who looks and sounds like us, but brings a whole different set of baggage to the journey.
Sometimes the differences are small enough that they don’t get in the way. Other times, you and your conversation partner are both fluent in English, but you’re speaking a totally different language. We can’t find a way to make our points effectively, because we don’t see the other person’s filters.
Before we can understand someone else, and be understood by them, we need to know a bit about what makes them unique. Otherwise, we’re just talking to ourselves.
As we enter our fourth year of the Dad Writes experiment, we hope you’ll sign up as a subscriber and that you’ll join in the conversation. We know we’ll benefit from your unique perspective.
I know a woman who always thinks she has inside information. We’ve been connected for about two decades and I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t ready to set me straight about whatever misconception I had about the world and its workings. No matter the topic, it seems, she has recently spoken with someone who knows better, a real insider who enlightened her about the truth that’s being hidden from the rest of us.
Almost invariably, her special source seems to be just another Joe; maybe someone in a relevant industry, but not a person we’d expect to have their own hotline to the truth. It might be someone in the financial industry who’s explaining what’s really behind a market move, or it might be a government worker who claims that published data are skewed. Rumors abound in large organizations, so there are undoubtedly conflicting stories floating around at any given time, but she thinks she has an unerring ability to identify the truth that’s hidden in the static.
Usually, she’s wrong, or at least I think she’s wrong because pretty much everyone tells a different story than she’s getting from her “inside source.” The preponderance of evidence against her view doesn’t dissuade her, though. Once a person decides she has found a hidden truth, every contradiction makes it more hidden and, therefore, more truthful.
The strangest thing, to me, is the contrast between her acceptance of unproven claims and the sharp reasoning skills and fact-driven approach she brings to her career and finances. In her career, she is strategic and discerning, but outside of her business she is the easiest of marks.
She’s also more than a bit smug about the whole thing, as if her “inside information” makes her better connected or smarter or more Chosen than I am. Maybe she’s just proud of herself for her ability to follow the rabbit trail back and forth until she reaches the conclusion she was going to reach either way.
I’m a pretty lazy guy, so I don’t have the energy to jump through a dozen hoops to get from one fact to a global conspiracy. My acquaintance, on the other hand, is much more agile and energetic, jumping through multiple hoops on the way to whatever conclusion supports the view she had when she started.
Clearly, we need to implement the One Hoop Rule to bring some sanity back to our conversations. If all you need is a single leap to get to your conclusion, maybe it’s worth considering. If you need to play hopscotch, expect to be ignored. In fact, my new mantra is going to be, “Two hoops. You’re out.” I expect to be repeating it frequently.
Fox Mulder said, “The truth is out there,” which was clearly a coded directive to subscribe to Dad Writes by clicking Out There right here.
In the Hunger Games of American medicine, I’ve made it into Zone Two. My group of feeble oldsters won eligibility for The Reaping and I snagged a first dose. I’m halfway home, but I have some very mixed emotions about the whole thing.
I’m a believer in vaccinations, even if they get rushed through the approval process, because I have great faith in the lawyers at Big Pharma to keep their companies from doing anything so incredibly stupid and venal that they end up in bankruptcy court. Yes, I trust the researchers to some extent, but it’s the lawyers who will keep the whole thing within the guard rails. It’s not because they are altruistic, I know, but you take your protection where you can.
I’m also a believer because I’ve taken dozens of vaccines over the years without incident and I haven’t caught the diseases I was trying to prevent. Yes, it’s the same belief system I apply when I untie my left shoe so the plane doesn’t crash, but so far, so good.
I had to think about it much more carefully this time, though, especially after I learned that the new vaccines include nano-devices to make me a worker drone for Bill Gates, or maybe George Soros. Or Chairman Mao. I forget which. On the other hand, that’s the only way a guy with my skill set is going to find a job anyway, so it might be a win in disguise. At least that was less risky, and gross, than the cow urine cure they’ve been raving about in India.
As my dad used to say, I’m playing the percentages. There’s more likelihood that the vaccines will help, or do nothing, than that they will do damage. Compared to the suffering of Covid long-haulers and, of course, the people who died, a vaccine is NBD.
Still, I felt conflicted about signing up when so many more deserving people hadn’t gotten the jab yet. I had figured front-line workers and people in elder care facilities would be fully dosed by the time my turn came around, but the roll-out has been so much spottier than even I would have imagined. My mom, who is 92 and lives in a group facility, is much more frail than I am and she hasn’t gotten the shot yet, along with tens of thousands of her peers and thousands of front-line workers, while I was able to sign up and get pricked at my local drug store within days of my group being activated.
It’s crazy, really, because we have a ton of companies that could be doing a better job than we’re seeing now from the retailers and hospitals. Ticketmaster could distribute all the vaccine in minutes, although we’d be paying huge “convenience fees,” while Amazon, Fedex and UPS could be delivering the shots to your door with a tech to inject them. It should be easy to add a side of vaccine with your Happy Meal at the drive-thru, and for the homebound, Jehovah’s Witnesses would be delighted to bring your immunity door to door. That hasn’t happened, though, because Yankee ingenuity ain’t what it used to be.
Instead, most providers have put together clunky scheduling systems that make us click through one store at a time, one time slot at a time, one day at a time. By the time I got to my first appointment, I had clicked more than 2,000 times through the Walgreens stores in my area, cycling through twice on the way to a single open slot. After the first shot, it took more than a week to get the second one on the schedule, with all kinds of computer glitches and contacts with customer service. I tried to schedule with other providers in the meantime, but I had even worse results on those sites, so Walgreens might just be the thinnest kid at fat camp.
Overall, I’m encouraged that we're on the way back from this mess. Our response to this virus and our treatment of each other has exposed every failing in our government, our businesses, our society and ourselves. It hasn’t been pretty. Maybe we can reconsider our perspectives while we’re waiting for immunity and maybe, just maybe, we can emerge from this just a bit more decent.
While we’re all waiting for our second dose, or our first, let’s all take a moment to subscribe to Dad Writes and journey forward together. Or something like that. Just click here.
Am I the only one who’s surprised at the quiet distribution of inoculations so far? People get trampled to death when the shopping mall opens on Black Friday, but everyone’s waiting their turn calmly at the vaccination centers. Yes, most of the eligible civilians are 65 or older, so they're really tired, but the quiet is still a bit eerie. Of course, it would be much more hectic if they gave away a Tickle Me Elmo with each shot…
The longest leg of any trip is the ride home from the airport. That’s especially true for vacations, when you’ve had your fun and spent your money and your flight was delayed and you waited too long for your luggage and you have to get to work tomorrow, but first you’ll be staying up until midnight doing the laundry... I’m beginning to feel the same way about the path out of the pandemic. The federal government has arranged only a fraction of the distribution they promised by year end 2020, logistics at the local level are rockier than needed, and winter is in full force. After nearly a year of this, the last mile is looking longer and longer.
When you get away from politics and social media, the country looks much more resilient, much more sensible and not nearly as angry. I spent a couple of days on the phone in December, checking in on people I hadn’t spoken to in a while. We commiserated about life in the age of Covid, of course, but nobody whined about their place in the world. Some of my friends are doing well, others are struggling, but every one of them expressed gratitude for their situation and concern for others who are suffering more. People don’t post much on social media about their sympathy for others or their sense of appreciation for whatever they have. Maybe we should do more of that.
The biggest orphans in the pandemic are restaurants and bars, which are getting hit the hardest by limits and closures. Yes, infection risks are increased by the fact that people need to take off their masks to eat, but there are workarounds that could and should be in place by now. One year into this thing, local officials could have developed performance standards for ventilation or filtration and let restaurants stay open if they meet those standards. Instead, there’s a hodgepodge of rules about indoor/outdoor dining, capacity percentages, and full closures that are killing too many American dreams. In turn, some restaurant owners are complying and some are ignoring the rules, also without any link to measurable safety standards. By the summer, we’ll be dining outdoors across the entire country and, by fall, we could be approaching a real recovery. We’ll want to celebrate, but where will we go?
Meanwhile, count me among the people who are grateful for the anti-vaxx movement, because they’re reducing our wait time for the vaccine. If everyone was signing up, we’d all be waiting six months for the jab, but it’s looking closer to three months at this point. Hmmmm…if I spread some rumors about those microchips from Bill Gates, maybe I can cut our wait time even further.
No matter how you plan to obtain your immunity to this pandemic that might or might not be a hoax—have we covered all the bases here?—there’s no better way to spend the time than by clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
Yes, brand new year, fresh start, only a few days old and yet…it seems there was something you were going to do and you just haven’t gotten around to it. What was it? It was really important and the success of 2021 depends on it and you’re not going to be able to sleep at night until you figure it out.
Oh. Yeah. That’s it.
You forgot to make your New Year’s resolutions. What in the world were you (not) thinking when you didn’t tackle this critical project? Not to worry, though, because the scolds at Dad Writes has been working non-stop to find all the changes you should make in 2021 to become a better person.
We understand that some of this will be difficult, but it’s for your own good. You’ve really screwed up a lot in the past year—no offense—and you need some tough love guidance to get you back on the straight and narrow. The list of all the changes you need to make is huge, so we will just focus on the top ten resolutions that you must follow immediately:
These simple steps are guaranteed to make your 2021 even better than drowning in quicksand or dining on dung beetles. Even better, they give you absolute freedom to ignore all those so-called “experts” with their “wisdom” and “experience” and “good advice” and “common sense” that never works. No, no need to thank us. Making you a better person is the least we can do.
How else can Dad Writes explain all the ways you need to improve your life? Find out by clicking here to subscribe to all our judgments about what’s best for you.
This is absolutely the best week of the year, every year, any year, with zero exceptions. EVER.
Yes, maybe somebody had a better week once, when they got married or promoted or had a kid or, more likely, when their kids finally moved out of the house, but that was once and this week is always.
Seriously, can it get any better than this? Even in a pandemic, the week between Christmas and the New Year rules bigtime. How is it best? Let us count the ways…
So let’s all waste every minute, savoring this week of limbo. Immerse your soul in its blessed emptiness, the hopelessness, the irreversible finality of it all. Even if the calendar doesn’t say it yet, the year is over and the normal demands of our lives are suspended. When a week offers up no demands, no pressure, and tons of day drinking, how can it not be the best week of the year?
And did I mention day drinking?
What’s the second best week of the year? Find out by subscribing to Dad Writes by clicking here and you’ll be the first to know.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.