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Thursday, 19 March 2020


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Keep up the good work! I am sure many of us come to TOP to experience some consistency in the daily passage. Helps keep us grounded. You are more valuable now than ever.

Sometimes I feel no matter what we do, we’re just black knights...


"This Too Shall Pass." - That is true, but what will replace this when it passes? There is no reason to believe that what we now call normal will return.

Throughout human history, there are times when things get worse. Sometimes they stay worse for generations.

9/11 passed, the Pentagon and World Trade Center have been rebuilt, and Osama is dead. However, we are not back to normal. Now America is much more of a police state than it was before.

Rather than saying this will pass, I'd say the bad times have just begun. The world economy hasn't crashed yet, as it most likely will. I think this is a major turning point in history, and will affect life all over the world for the next decade or two.

Hang in there Mike. This is a good time to stay home and shoot still lifes (lives?). The way I heard the legend, it was King Solomon asking his advisors to give him something which would temper his moods, so they made him a ring inscribed with the hebrew acrostic of "gam zeh ya'avor" (this too shall pass). It will.

Well said.


I just today learned about Zoom https://zoom.us and I'm sure there are a number of other online solutions to meeting where the attendees are relatively tech able. They said Zoom allows up to 100 attendees for up to a 40 minute meeting for free.

I've also used Sylaps https://sylaps.com/ which their Help says has no limit to number of attendees and there's nothing to install. You simply email out a link.

Anyway, if not these, there are at least options to consider, I'm sure.

The poet Theodore Roethke once wrote, " In a dark time, the eye begins to see." My interpretation being that when life appears most challenging and dire one has an opportunity to really appreciate and honor what has genuine meaning. This is such a time. Our 'Better Angels' will prevail.

The rain seems to be here for a while, but at 5pm, the sun came out today and it was glorious. More rain tonight, but that golden light hitting the wet green grass was a gift. I'll take it as a metaphor.

I'm worried about several of the groups that meet at our church, having met folks looking for a meeting on one of the two nights they aren't held, it's obvious how much they can mean to someone. Hopefully the virtual options help enough, long enough, for things to find a new balance.

I thank you for being here, and talking honestly. You have a wonderful, real, community here, and we're all lucky to be a part and read each other's comments alongside your work. And please keep it up! We're fighting a disease but also for a world of art and beauty and community, and it's a responsibility of all of us to celebrate the beautiful, the wonderful, and the strange - or, as Churchill said, 'Then what are we fighting for?'

Mike, your final observation about the weather is spot on, but I would add that as it is the spring equinox today 20200320, I am also looking forward to the benefits of MORE light.

As for the catastrophic scale of the current contagion, I am not so sure... I am seeing "beneficial crisis" writ large, particularly in the "swamp" areas of government.

I agree with Bruce McL above. I too feel this is a turning point in this civilisation, that the Earth has been pushed beyond its normal limits and is starting to bite us back. The signs are clear yet are being ignored.

The obscenity that half the world's wealth is in the hands of only eight men, most of them, if not all, American will cause even more problems.

Very pessimistic, I agree, but I can't find any reason for optimism. Unless the young people of the world, who have the most to lose, rise up and apply force. Frightening, but I think it has to happen.

This too will pass - Rodney Crowell

The flip side, when all is bright, the sun is shining, is "this shall pass too."


For one small org I belong to, I expect our next meeting will be via Skype, Hangouts, Zoom or something similar, if we can figure out how to make it work for everyone. A few may end up participating audio-only, though they'd be able to see others.

I look forward to hearing a bit about what your groups work out.

Speaking of moods, I know I'm not alone in finding TOP a welcome oasis of calm, rationality, honesty and humanism. That takes dedication and hard work, so, again, thank you for this space, and for your voice, especially in these interesting times.

When I stay up too late or wake up in a worry, I imaging a future where everything keeps falling apart around me except the internet, and we all have a very detailed daily overview of an ever-worsening hellworld.

But if I limit social media and the news, and stay in touch with neighbors and friends, and use our tools to organize a better way of doing things, I sleep better. I'm helping to host a zoom meeting this Sunday.

Actually, at the moment I am on a Zoom video conference for the Environmental Health Leadership Fellowship that I just started which got moved from a live meeting to Zoom. I have to say I'm impressed. It works pretty well.

Keep us entertained Mike. (and stay safe too)

Karin and I are under voluntary lockdown. She came down with cold symptoms the other day so I called her out of work. I received a call later on Wed from company HR. Keep her home, we will pay her. Yesterday I started getting a bit gunky so now I am out for 2 weeks as well.

“I could stand some sunshine, though”. Indeed!

George Harrison wrote his amazing song, “Here Comes the Sun” in April 1969. Apparently the February and March had been colder and cloudier than average - “a long cold winter” - but April that year was much sunnier and brighter than average; and his spirits soared and this was expressed through his creativity.

I have a friend in recovery and she is using Zoom to have her meetings. It is easy to and even though it is online it can be a big support. We used it last night for my Buddhist meditation group. We did a guided meditation together and followed that with a group discussion. For meetings under 40 minutes, it is free, for over that it is $15 a month. At that price, they can be recorded on the cloud and played back later.

Despite being Tech savvy, I'm apparently also an old dog afraid of learning new tricks. But my younger work friends have organized several Zoom meetings and encouraged me to participate, despite y apprehensions. I've actually found them to be a bit of fun. You can have live video of a bunch of folk, see everyone simultaneously, hear everyone if you want that, too. Probably best to scale things down to groups of four to a dozen. but my guess is that you'd find it fun, too. At the very least, the first 5-10 minutes of working out the software is a kind of bonding moment for us old dogs using it. Give it a try.

I teach at a now-all-online university. We're mastering Zoom and using more channels than I was previously aware of. Maintaining 5-20 people in a conference is not any stretch (our record is somewhere around 500). For a discussion that feels connected and mutual, I think 5-10 with the video left running is best.

How internet-capable are your members, though? If I find something that gets connected but tech-timid people started, I'll share it. We have one relative living separately who is in that category.

Some people’s mental health deteriorates with prolonged confinement to a small space. There’s a reason prison is considered a punishment. “This too shall pass” rings hollow if you can’t mentally make it 18 months in social isolation.

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