perspective

Pandemic Dilemmas

(A note: sometimes posts for our blog sit on the backburner. There’s all kinds of reasons for this. The post below was written in April 2020.  It has lived in the drafts folder ever since.  Current news and trends brought it back to mind these past couple of weeks, and it seems as relevant as it was then, if not more so. The resources I worry about most now are our health care workers, but as you can read, those worries were already bubbling up last April.)

It was the classic problem.

Hans has a sick child.  Hans is poor and can’t afford the medicine his child needs to live.  Is Hans morally wrong for stealing the medicine his child needs to survive?

In the eyes of the law, sure he would be wrong.  Stealing is a crime. He doesn’t have the right to take what belongs to someone else.  But is he blameworthy?  If he does it, should he go to jail for it?  If he doesn’t steal it, isn’t there a different kind of penalty?

I was a philosophy major in college, specializing in ethics, or figuring out right / wrong / morality. I shouldn’t say figuring it out, since we rarely if ever got to the bottom of anything.  But we spent a lot of time thinking about Hans and these sticky situations, where different people have different rights and those rights cross or conflict.  Moral dilemmas.  So many of the ones that interested me most involved relationships, deciding who is more important, and trying to figure out a good reason why.

I’ve had my moments of anxiety during the course of the coronavirus so far.  But it’s the dilemmas that trouble me most. I get deeply, truly sad when I think about health care workers being forced to make decisions about who has access to life saving medical equipment if supplies are running out.

Here’s an example: Two 50-year old men come in to the ER at roughly the same time, in roughly the same condition, same medical history. About the only meaningful difference is that one of them has three kids, one of them has none. Should that be the deciding factor if only one of them can have a ventilator?

Of course, it only gets more complicated.  What if the one with the kids is overweight and pre-diabetic while the other is in good overall health.  Or one is married, the other is a widower (and what if the one with the kids is the widower, or the one without kids…does that matter?)  One is an affluent business owner with many employees who depend on him, the other is on public assistance.  One is insured, the other is not.  One is African American, the other is White. Add in factors of gender, age, medical history, addiction, other ailments that might be seen as patient life choices (like smoking) and others that are genetic.  You can see how the picture gets very complicated very quickly.  What matters?  What doesn’t?  Who decides?

In our medical ethics classes, we would talk about assisted suicide and the problems with a doctor “playing God,” deciding who lives and who dies…or in the coronavirus case, who even has the chance.

I know a taste of this, from when I was the one who made the decision to take my father off of breathing support to effectively end his life.  Even though he had prepared me to do it and I felt confident it was the right thing, it still stays with me. I will just say that all of this is simpler when it is clear cut.  Still, it is not simple and never easy.

I know there are people who question if this whole pandemic is real.  If all the staying at home and disruption of our daily lives is necessary.  As a member of a family who is supported by a restaurant, I face the same economic uncertainty that has so many people anxious, restless, angry, and scared. I can’t minimize that suffering, but I hope that the help in our communities and from our leaders will sustain us for a little while until we can get the virus more or less medically managed.

What wakes me up at night, though, is thinking of the doctors.  The nurses.  The medical heroes whose hearts and minds will be scarred from watching people die that they truly wanted to help.  That they could have and would have made a valiant effort to save in nearly any other circumstance.  The people they eventually had to walk away from because there wasn’t enough equipment to go around. The trauma to their hearts and minds is immeasurable, not to mention all the people who might not have a chance to survive if we run out of ICU resources.

I believe these moments say much about our values as a culture, as a society. Can we just sit tight for a little bit? Can we help our neighbors and loved ones survive this strange and challenging moment in history?  In my mind, if we can prevent the damage to those who care for us and give everyone a chance to get access to care, as they say flattening the curve can, we should.  If you doubt that this is a real thing, please find a health care worker and listen to them.  Please.

There are a million other issues with this situation.  Reasons to be angry, stressed, depressed.  Some day I may write about my worries over my students now trying to learn at home.  Or the heroism of medical workers who continue to show up and do their jobs when they are inadequately protected.  Or the many other front line workers, often forgotten and in high risk but low-paying jobs.

Surely, some day soon I may be writing about an actual Hans, who lost his hours at his job and needs medicine for his kids. Those stories are out there and more are coming.  The economic, social, mental, and physical impacts will be spinning out for years and years. Once this initial crisis has passed, we will turn our full attention to the suffering of many other groups who need help, who need heart, who need solutions. We will be writing about this for a long time. This is an endurance test. Both our patience muscles and our helping muscles must grow, strengthen, and sustain throughout this marathon.

But for now, in this initial fury, I worry for the doctors and nurses and patients.  It takes me back to those college classrooms, before I had kids of my own, when Hans’s predicament was nothing more than an interesting little thought experiment to ponder. Now I have kids.  And a lot more to lose.  I don’t wish true dilemmas on anyone.  While there is a choice, there is no win.

perspective

Venmo Life

What was life like before Venmo?

I seriously have no clue. I send my kids money for food. I receive rent payments by Venmo. I pay dues for kid’s sports by Venmo. I pay for my hair cuts by Venmo. The list goes on.

Now today I got my kid’s babysitting money via Venmo. Just nuts to think about. The touchless payment life we all live. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I didn’t know what Venmo was. Now it seems like a requirement in life.

Convenient? Yes. Secure? I think the answer depends on who you ask. Venmo may be my app of choice but there’s Apple Pay, Cash App and others. So many touchless options. Sitting on the couch sending your friend money for a coffee. How convenient. 

Does anyone even use cash anymore? Do you even know your ATM password? Some days I feel like I live in a Jetson cartoon world. And kids today rarely know how to make change for $1.00 without technical aids.

What will the next new technology trend be? iPhones and AirPods change versions in the blink of an eye. The artificial intelligence in my phone seems to know where I’m driving next and what I should buy at the store or online.

What happened to independent thought? Technology in a way takes away basic problem solving skills.  Will tomorrow’s adult be able to create new tools for future generations? I wonder because so many young adults lack basic skills that I had growing up because I didn’t have technology at my fingertips.

Ah the crazy life we live in today’s digital world.

business

The Deal

The deal is dead so I guess I can write about it. The deal I wanted to wrap up in 2020 with a pretty bow is in the toilet. Gone just like that.

Instead of celebrating the new deal in my portfolio, I am reviewing how it got squashed. It wasn’t just squashed once. It was squashed many times. Why? No lenders want to take a risk in this particular industry thanks to COVID.

Despite a rocking year of financials and long standing history, the market is considered volatile. This is crazy to me because the housing market is booming. Lenders will lend people money for a $400,000.00 home but they can lose their job just like that. As an entrepreneur you need to make things work, not just collect a paycheck.

For this deal I was willing to bet my blood, sweat and tears on an opportunity that is solid and immediately generating revenue but that’s too risky for the stuffy bankers in their suits and ties. 

This is just an example of what’s wrong with today. It’s okay for me. I have other irons in the fire so I’m going to keep on fighting and maybe revisit that opportunity later. Maybe later I won’t want the deal because I wanted it when others saw the odds were down. I like the underdog shots. The come-from-nowhere wins. The opportunities others will toss to the side because it takes grit to get the outcome desired.

For now I’ll watch. I’ll listen. I’ll soak in the experience. I mean I do say you have get some nos before you get the yes. I also believe in karma, timing and gut feelings.

In my gut I know when the time is right for me, the deal of a lifetime will pass by and I’ll be ready to sink my teeth in. For now I’ll wait. I’ll watch. I’ll learn. I’ll keep putting those coins in the piggy bank so I’m ready when opportunity comes knocking.

Can you say Corona has put up a wall for you in 2020? How did you handle your challenge(s)? What, if anything, are you doing now to be ready for traversing the wall. Hopefully your wall is just temporary like mine.

A new day. A new opportunity to get better. Moving on to greener pastures. A little farewell to bankers. I’ll don’t like government loans anyway. I’d rather start with a $20 bill and see how much I grow it.

Starting something from nothing is far more gratifying but not for the weak. Maybe you now know something about me. I will always be chasing the next version of me.

dare to be different

An Unexpected Reflection

A lot has changed in the last 6 months.

When I’m immersed in these changes, I am often only thinking about the next 6 inches in front of my face. What do I have to do next? And next? And then what next? I can’t or don’t or won’t let myself think much further down the road. This is especially true when I’m doing something so new, the path much further ahead gets murky easily.

With all the immersion in doing the next right thing, I sometimes miss the big shifts in life’s trajectory.

Then facebook of all things reminds me that I am going in a very different direction.

REI

Duluth Trading Company

Orvis

Columbia

Vermont Country Store

L. L. Bean.

Ads for layers of outdoor gear. Blankets. Durable pants. Long underwear. Boots. Bags. Lists of places to go. Seeds. Hikes. Kayaks. Rucks.

All of the sudden (it seems), my timeline is full of ads for everything outdoors. I’m a hiker, an adventurer. I am moving. It’s going to be cold, whatever I’m up to.

Do I click on these? Sure, sometimes. Facebook has me pegged. What was there before? Ads for makeup. Lists of all the great buys on amazon. Who knows. I don’t remember. But it definitely wasn’t backpacks and flannel.

This isn’t some big meaningful profound post. Just a funny observation of the ways social media reflects my life and interests and changes back to me. And it just makes me want to bundle up and go outside to move and play and work and adventure.

Teddie Aspen

Captain Destructo

Well I’m sure you have read about my sweet pup named Teddie. She is a joy in my life. A cuddle buddy. A spoiled rotten girl. But what I don’t always mention is she is a destruction queen.

Enter the new toy posted above. The indestructible toy as advertised. I’m not sure why I buy these things other than to see if she can shred it to pieces.

Guess what? She can shred it. In record time. She finds a way to get every ounce of the white stuffing out and leave the trail in every room she visited. Yes, it was just hours after I vacuumed so that chore was a definite waste of time!  She destroyed the indestructible frisbee. The light up ball. The window blinds. The rope with a ball center. The shoe that was left out. You name it, she shreds it. She has bones. She has treats. She just likes to rip apart all the items I get her. Even her little brown bear. The lifeless bear that she totes around like a security blanket but then sits in the corner and shreds it.  I have even thrown away her shredded items and she hovers at the trash can like I’m the worst person in the world. I seriously don’t want her to get sick from ingesting material not meant for consumption.  Is there any dog toy you can suggest that is actually destruction proof? I would love a suggestion. Or maybe I need a dog whisperer.

I guess she wasn’t a fan of the adorable “spoiled” sweater I got her for the cold weather. She immediately started to eat that too. She has even chewed through her walking vest while on a walk. Good thing this girl is cute and gives good snuggles because she keeps me in the poor house with her destructive ways.