Thoughts

Once again, on the problem of noise

I’ve written repeatedly about noise issues in distant and recent past. Noise is something that affects me deeply and not in pleasant ways, so it’s an issue that’s always boiling beneath the surface, so to speak. Particularly during the quarantine, I was able to enjoy such quiet times, that I found the contrast between that period and these once-again too-busy times extremely jarring. I’m writing about it this time because I may have come up with a better way to word the noise laws, for those that are interested. There are two parts to it, as detailed below.

First, here are three posts I’d like to point out:

I was prompted to think about this by a recent incident, where the noise violator took advantage of a loophole in the Romanian laws against noise violations. It’s an optional loophole that the police can choose to apply in cases where the violator has relations on the police force or the local government, namely to require the use of a special device that measures the decibel level of the noise, which in Romania involves scheduling a visit from a special police team from another city, instead of relying on the complaints of a person or persons, or the observations made by the police officers who’ve responded to the call. In short, if you’re bribing someone at the mayor’s office or on the police force, you can get away with some serious noise violations. I hope you can also see how not solving a noise violation on the spot and requiring a scheduled site visit from a police team with special equipment is clearly a loophole that’s meant to be misused. In this particular recent case, I’m talking about a habitual noise violator with a history of more than 8 years of disturbing the peace of the historic city center.

Part 1

My proposed wording for noise violations is this: if the noise can be heard outside the perimeter of the noise violator’s property, it must be fined; by the same principle, if the noise can be heard outside of the noise violator’s car, it must be fined. This would force these callous, incredibly insensitive people to adjust the volume of their music, events and/or arguments so that their neighbors cannot hear the noise. If it can be heard, it can and should be fined. The only loophole I would put in is for construction or other work noises, which I find to be the only noises that are justifiable. Construction must occur, whether it’s new construction, renovation or restoration, and work such as mowing the lawn or doing various house repairs must also go on and is, I would say, necessary, so it must be tolerated and understood, within reason. But any of the non-work stuff must and should adhere to the simple principle of not disturbing the neighbors, whether they’re in the house next door or the car in the next lane, or passersby trying to enjoy a quiet walk through town. I think the current schedule of “quiet hours” that exist on the books in most countries, such as 10 pm – 8 am and a “siesta” from 1 pm – 2 pm in the afternoon, is a good schedule and should be kept, but it should be literally enforced by the book, not left up to the interpretation of corruptible policemen and local governments. And I think that even if a noise violation occurs outside of those quiet hours, as long as it meets the very simple criteria described above, it still qualifies as a noise violation and it must be fined. Someone else’s loud music or screaming is still extremely bothersome, no matter if it happens at 3 pm or 3 am. Should they want to blow out their eardrums, let them do so with the aid of headphones, not loudspeakers.

Enforcing the new wording should also be very simple: using the guidelines above, first-time noise violators must get a written warning. Any time after that, no matter what, they get fined, by the book. In other words, noise violators with a long history of breaking the law should never get a break. They should always get fined. The time for warning them has long since passed.

Part 2

I would also suggest a restriction on the use of amplifiers and speakers for public events organized by local governments to only those venues that are specifically equipped for noise abatement and/or are physically distanced from residential areas, such as concert venues. This would do away with loud events that are heard throughout entire neighborhoods or towns. I’m not saying public concerts shouldn’t happen in town squares, or that musicians shouldn’t be allowed to play on the streets, but the noise they generate must not be amplified artificially. It must be generated solely by analog musical instruments or their voice. No microphones, no speakers. That way, it simply wouldn’t travel as far and as artificially as the deafening stuff blared through loudspeakers, and would become a more natural sound that can be enjoyed within its physical context.

I think those governments that are so inclined to apply these rules would quickly see a much-needed improvement in the noise levels in their cities, and I know for a fact that most working people would appreciate having more quiet time to focus on their tasks.

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Thoughts

A pandemic of laziness

The rhythm of life in a temperate climate with four seasons is, understandably, cyclic. Spring is when nature thaws and outside work begins. Summer is when the work goes on in earnest, with a view of the cold seasons to come. Building work, for example, requires the summer heat for foundations, masonry, painting, etc. Agricultural work is spread out through the three warmer seasons. Autumn is when nature begins to wind down and withdraw into itself, and people tend to do the same. The focus of the work shifts to gathering and getting ready for the winter that is almost in sight. The coming freeze is made inescapably clear by the cold, frosty mornings of autumn. The signs are all there and no one can deny them.

As I worked on our NGO’s charitable projects last year, which involved a lot of landscape and building work, I saw certain signs as well. By the end of the summer and in the fall, it was undeniable to me. Wherever I went, people just didn’t want to work. The concept of an honest day’s work got lost on most people. Somehow, it’d become esoteric to them. I have already attempted to exorcise it back into something known and unmysterious, through a post I wrote on the very subject.

Then, winter came and with it came a certain time when we all had to put… time… aside for reflection (or drivel, as the case may be). We all call that time now “the coronavirus pandemic”. It stretched on and on through spring and just as summer came round the corner, we were free (almost) once again to resume our work. The pace did indeed become frenetic, given the prolonged pause we were all forced to partake, but to my dismay, most people did not choose to engage in productive work, re-confirming last year’s observations.

I would have thought that economic activity would begin with a fury, with people wanting to make up for lost time, especially given the dim prospects of facing more waves of restrictions and economic troubles in the fall and winter but no, the frenetic pace was set mainly by people trying to organize parties and barbeques, to find places to vacation and by those eager to protest and vandalize anything and everything under the sun. I think I can best describe this frenetic post-quarantine activity with one phrase: no rhyme or reason whatsoever — wild flailing of arms and tongues, mad goings to and fro, but ultimately meaningless.

As I pointed out in a previous post, pent-up frustrations will out, and perhaps I’ll write a future post on the anarchic, asinine, “bite the hand that feeds you and shit your own bed” tendencies of the current post-modern ideologies that are driving these protests, or rather driving the people brainwashed into believing them into utter chaos and certain disaster, but for now I’d like to focus on an epidemic of much larger proportions than the coronavirus epidemic: rampant, universal laziness. At some point, this might have been called endemic, but we can safely call it epidemic, and we could even go so far as to call it a pandemic: a global pandemic of laziness. Many more people are infected with it than COVID-19 and with no cure in sight, many will die from it as well.

When I look at the generations of today that are of working age, what I mostly see is a blithe indifference to the inescapable, undeniable fact that life must contain a certain proportion of work. I’m talking about real work, hard work, an honest day’s work, backbreaking work, drudgery, sweaty bits and bobs, wet back, red neck kind of work. It simply must. Our mammalian bodies need this physical work in order to stay in condition. Going to the gym for an hour or so a few times a week is a poor substitute for proper physical work. Life requires work. Achievements require work. Even the pleasurable bits of life consist of physical labor, as horny teenage boys with sweaty palms will surely attest, several times a day.

And yet, once the people of today reach working age, they begin to assume, wrongly, that life can somehow function without work. Never mind us working, the robots will do our work and the government will pay us a universal basic income that will free us from the torture of work and allow us to focus on our creative sides, such as scratching our balls and asses as we watch television, or liking absolutely inconsequential posts on Facebook or Instagram. Let’s just do a bit of shopping with that free government money, let’s throw in a bit of work on the car, like upgrading the subwoofers or mufflers (for the completely tasteless), maybe get a little tattoo here and there, a bite or ten of fast food, and life is good and complete for probably 90-95% of people.

While this kind of stuff may allow various societies to slide by for a number of years, coasting on the hard work of a few motivated individuals, things will inevitably slip from existence to subsistence, and that is where the civilized world is headed if people don’t start doing some proper work.

Nobody wants to do physical labor anymore. Everyone wants to click around on a computer screen all day for greater pay. Most of the “white collar” work has become a joke, with everyone pretending to work but actually doing as little of it as possible, and very few people willing to do “blue collar” work, which is actually what builds and maintains civilizations. I’m not saying that blue collar work builds the arts and humanities or the sciences, but our physical world requires blue collar work in order to build and maintain the infrastructure that supports the higher endeavors. Let me put it to you this way: someone’s gotta lay the internet cables, build the routers and assemble the phones and tablets that you use to faff around all day while pretending to work. How about the obsession of modern man with food, which must be stuffed into their mouths at all times, in all sorts of forms? Out of the population of any civilized country, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture is ridiculously tiny, and in my view, it’s not because of agri-giants, it’s because no one wants to do the back-breaking work of tending to the lands and the farms. Thank goodness there’s farm machinery available that allows fewer people to still do all of the farmwork that’s needed to keep all those office workers well-fed to the point of morbid obesity, because we’d all be in for a seriously rude wake-up call otherwise.

I look around me and I see so few people willing to work hard, willing to put in an honest day’s work. I don’t care what their excuses are. Even if it’s just for a crummy, humdrum job, someone with a backbone will want to put in some good work so they can sleep well at night. Apparently, a lot of people have lost their backbones, because most of them aren’t doing good work. Look around you. Out of your circle of friends and acquaintances, how many of them put in an honest day’s work? Don’t tell me, just figure it out for yourself. Isn’t it worrisome once you do the math? Heck, look at yourself and be honest, you don’t have to tell me, you just have to admit it to yourself: have you been putting in an honest day’s work, day in and day out, in recent years? Please don’t post a comment to brag about how much work you’re doing. Just do a bit of self-assessment and be brave enough to admit to yourself where you stand.

I’m not saying we should be working to the point of breaking down our bodies, day in and day out. We should have a balance. Those of us who predominantly do office work should have 1-2 full days of proper physical labor each week, in order to keep things in balance. Those of us who predominantly do physical labor should have 1-2 full days of restful work each week, once again in order to keep things in balance. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what weekends are good for? Office workers should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, engage in serious physical labor during the weekends, around their houses or in volunteer work with various organizations in their communities. Factory workers and those who do mainly physical labor should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, spend their weekends educating their minds by reading or watching documentaries on various subjects, meeting with friends and having meaningful conversations (not getting drunk and stuffing their stomachs).

I for one am having such a hard time finding people to help us with our physical work. About the only people who are willing to work, from my experience, are the older generations who’ve grown up under very different circumstances than today’s working youth and adults, and active or ex-military folks, who’ve served and know what it means to work hard. All the rest of them are just fluff. They simply can’t handle a full day of physical work. Most people I’ve seen are ready to fall down after a half hour of serious work, and that’s so problematic, in so many ways. The youth are the worst: they’re pampered little simps who parade in and out of coffee shops, instagramming their meaningless, unproductive lives, unable to read or write properly, subject to every whimsy of their “influencers”. I have seen so few of them that know the value of work. If I were to estimate, I think less than half a percent would be a fairly accurate figure. Everyone’s trying to make a fast buck without the work. It simply doesn’t bode well for the future of work and for our future as the human race. If things keep going this way, I truly hope that robots will become advanced enough and affordable enough so they can do the hard work, because everyone will simply be too old, too fat or too frail and out of practice to do anything worthwhile.

PS. I realize the youth critique is historically repetitive, and that virtually every older generation decries the state of their youth, yet I look at how much the older generations have accomplished and I am in awe. With every passing generation, we are accomplishing less and less, and we’d be in seriously bad shape if leaps in productivity, invention, automation and mass production didn’t offset the gradual and certain loss in elbow grease. Less and less people are doing the work that carries our civilization forward. Most are sitting back and benefitting, without having contributed. I look at what the young generations are accomplishing right now (triggered SJWs, influencers flogging shit left and right, carpentry faffers on YouTube more concerned with sucking up the dust in their workshops than doing any substantive woodwork, etc. ad nauseam), and I shudder.

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Thoughts

On current overreactions and pent-up frustrations

Rather than expound on these subjects in detail, because there’s a tremendous amount that can be said, I’d like to point out a few things and let you think about them.

The current demonstrations against police brutality in the US are laudable in principle, but they should’ve happened years ago. The fact that they’re happening now shows they’re more of a vent for pent-up frustrations against the coronavirus quarantine and against social distancing than against acts of police brutality. Let’s face it, the global quarantine was an unprecedented event that generated a lot of fear, stress and financial difficulties for people, and going out into the streets right now is an act of reassurance for them, more than anything else. Who could protest against a public health emergency? No one (well, almost no one). But who can get behind a commendable protest against race inequality? Everyone, even if that’s not really what motivates them to protest.

The coming together of these enormous numbers of people, even if some are wearing masks (most aren’t), is quite likely going to increase, not decrease, the numbers of infections and casualties from the virus, leading to its possible mutations into more lethal forms and another possible quarantine, which is exactly what those people don’t need. There is a high degree of irresponsibility in the behavior of these people in the streets, but just try telling them that…

Countries where police violence isn’t an issue in modern times, such as Germany, are overreacting with both mass demonstrations and legislative changes. Then again, Germany is still feeling very guilty for its past, so overreaction motivated by feelings of guilt is a predictable reaction for them. It’s also ridiculous, particularly for a country where there is so much disrespect, violence and hatred directed toward its law-abiding citizens from incoming immigrants.

The onus for the current situation can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the current political leadership of both parties in the US, because they’ve engaged in divisive, polarizing strategies for quite some time. The problematic behavior of police forces can be traced directly up the chain of command to the tone set by the president and other top political figures in their speeches and other communications. Even so, I’d encourage you to not be so naive to think that a simple switch of the presidency from one party to another can dramatically change the situation. This divisive rhetoric has existed at the top levels of politics even during president Obama’s two terms (not that he engaged in that sort of thing, but plenty of people on both sides of the isle in Congress and elsewhere did). And I believe that no matter what political party is in charge, that party can appoint good people to positions of leadership and ensure that the proper tone is set and publicly communicated at all levels of government, right down to the policemen patrolling the streets.

Whether you want to admit it or not, and whether you think it’s right or not, the brutality seen nowadays on the streets is the result of the frustration and anger of many conservative people in the US who’ve felt disenfranchised, under-represented and pushed aside by overtly liberal policies and laws passed in recent decades. I’ve written about this on my site before and I would point you to the exact post, but I can’t find it now. Certain societal changes must happen slowly, because they involve re-defining important concepts that have been in place for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Yet in the last two decades, we’ve seen huge pushes to over-liberalize views on so many subjects, and even more so, it became a crime (punished by law, censure or ostracization) to speak against these changes. This was bound to polarize and anger a lot of people, and what’s happening now is a long-overdue reaction that’s been building up to a boiling point. What you’re really seeing now is a clash between ways of thinking. Don’t think for a moment that just by condemning police brutality you’re going to make this long-standing anger go away. This kind of a complex situation can only be calmed down by at least a decade of completely open dialogue between all sides, where you have to let people say exactly what they think, on all sides. If that means a series of televised debates between community representatives in every major city, so be it, but the air needs to be cleared, over and over and over, until all concerns have been aired, all frustrations vented, on all sides of the issues. You have to let everyone voice their opinions without repercussions, without judgment, without categorizing them as racists, as discriminators, as “behind the times”, etc. But this isn’t happening. Instead, liberal agendas are being pushed through everywhere as fast and as forcibly as possible, so this deep-felt anger is going to continue to bubble up and reach boiling points.

If you look at videos of the demonstrators being aggressed by the police, you can see in a lot of cases how they’re either getting right up into these policemen’s faces and screaming at them, or they’re keeping some distance but still screaming at the policemen. If you’re going out to protest, do your protesting toward the cameras, toward government officials (if they’re present), but keep your distance and leave the policemen alone. They’re not there to act as a “screaming wall” for you or to judge your causes. They’re under tremendous pressure to do their jobs. Why do those people think it’s okay to scream at someone for hours on end, to call them names, to even bait them, and then expect them not to retaliate when they get the chance? Go out, have your say if you must, scream your heart out at the world, but keep your distance from the authorities, don’t be physically or verbally threatening, don’t throw things, and you’ll likely go home unharmed. But in a lot of these cases where demonstrators got hurt, the police were provoked in one way or another, probably not by the people who got hurt, but by people in and around that area. I’m not saying what happened was right or was justified, but it was in some way provoked, and when tensions run high, you don’t need to do too much before violence kicks in on both sides.

There is talk of defunding and disbanding police forces, and putting that money into social workers, community organizers, etc. Other than a few urban areas in the US, the truth of the matter is that police forces are typically underfunded and understaffed. And most policemen are good people with good intentions. But let’s let those cities that want to engage in police defunding experiments do it, and we’ll see what happens when social workers and community organizers are confronted with violent gang members, looters, muggers, rapists and various nefarious individuals who don’t respond to logic and reasoning.

On the other hand, and I speak from my experience of living in the US and in Romania, quite a few policemen (not the majority, but enough of them) can be described by at least one of these adjectives: lazy, incompetent, rude, corrupt, bullies. Those who qualify deserve whatever’s coming their way. While that sort of behavior might be marginally tolerated in civilian jobs, it cannot be tolerated from policemen, who ought to be held to a higher standard, exactly because it’s their job to uphold the law.

An inescapable truth that can be seen quite clearly in these demonstrations is that while people are out in the streets, “demonstrating”, they aren’t working. Worse than that, they’re not letting others work. Businesses who would now be working and contributing to a sorely abused economy cannot work because they’re disrupted by the demonstrations or they’ve been looted, especially where they were needed the most, such as in poorer neighborhoods. All this comes on top of a quarantine and countless missed payments on mortgages, car loans and other promissory notes. The very people shouting for justice right now are going to get a big dose of injustice as looming foreclosures and evictions finally occur. It isn’t going to be pretty if this situation drags on. People need to get back to work, businesses need to reopen, mortgages and other loans need to get paid, etc., or the economy is going to get even worse.

Should things get worse and should police forces get defunded in key urban areas in the US, those people are setting themselves up for severe problems in the near future. Those who haven’t witnessed what late 1970s and early 1980s New York was like, are about to experience it in their own cities and neighborhoods, if things continue along the same path.

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Places

Today’s images

The theme is spring blossoms. Enjoy!

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Thoughts

Post-quarantine thoughts

The quarantine period, while financially problematic, was a welcome respite for a world too numerous and too burdensome to bear; it was a world so caught up with itself that it practically screamed out for an intervention. Cities were cleaner and quieter. There were much fewer people to be seen everywhere and much less traffic. Days could be used for work and for lovely, quiet pauses where one could hear and commune with nature, and the nights could be used for sleep and quiet reflection, which is as it should be. It was a lovely time.

As the shelter-in-place rules were lifted here in Romania on the 15th of May, the filthy underbelly of society began to show itself again. Dirty, ugly, loud people began to crowd outside again, gathering in bunches like fleas on a mangy dog, standing close together and gossiping, making up conspiracy theories, littering everywhere once more. Their misbegotten progenitures began once again to rev their cars and turn up their subwoofers, getting in their cars just to speed up and down the street, blaring their horribly loud music throughout the neighborhoods, only to stop here and there so they could grunt at their like-minded “pack animals”. Others put their speakers in their yards once again, and turned them up for everyone to “enjoy” (a time-honored “tradition” among village morons everywhere) with no regard whatsoever for other people or for the laws regarding public disturbances of the peace. Just last night, rowdy, uncouth youth (not wearing masks) were walking up and down our street, yelling at each other about some party in the neighborhood. Music was blaring a few hundred yards away while suspect smells were wafting in the air, what seemed to me to smell suspiciously like burning plastic that would mask the odors of other illicit substances being consumed. (I was cleaning our yard and got a bit nauseous from the smell.) Countries in Europe are still supposed to be “on alert” and gatherings with many people are still illegal, and yet one was happening last night, and it wasn’t the only one I’ve heard of recently.

Whereas during the quarantine police forces were joined by the military and by the gendarmes, and there was a real push from above to enforce all of the laws, particularly the ones regarding quarantine, now things are “back to normal”. Police forces are once again slow to hand out fines or warnings in order to keep in check the noise violations and other illegal activities of certain problem individuals and ne’er-do-wells. I find the mere existence of these individuals to be a double danger for civilized society and I’ve written about them before: on the one hand they get free money from the taxes collected from working, law-abiding citizens and on the other hand, they are habitual violators of the laws in place; they don’t work, don’t contribute to society and spend their days drunk and/or violent, watching TV and stuffing their mouths while living in their own squalor and filth. They are the dregs, the refuse of any civilized society, and they’re more than a stain on that society, they’re parasites that degrade the quality of life for all other law-abiding, decent folks.

And so I’m left to conclude that this time, that could have been used for reflection, for learning, for a turning inward and a thorough examination of one’s life, for resolving to lead a better life, was wasted by most people in their typical pursuits of ways to fill their bellies and dull their minds. Now they want to pick up right where they left off, keeping on their parasitic behaviors, taking and taking and taking from the Earth and leaving only garbage and destruction behind.

You see, the real test of a society is not how it behaves during a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. It’s easy to pull together and to obey the law when you don’t have a choice. You know the old saying, “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” The real test comes after the crisis. It’s when people can be themselves again that we see the real worth, the real weight of that society. And it’s much easier to see it then because we’ve got the benefit of contrast. We can see how they behaved when there were strict rules in place and they were being watched, and we can also see how they’re behaving now that the rules have been relaxed and they’re left to their own devices, more or less.

So if nothing was learned from this time that could have been used so productively by many, if nothing was gained by them, then I’m left to wonder why they’re still around. Many politicians promised solemnly that “every life matters” and that they’ll “do everything in their power to make sure”, etc. Was all that effort really necessary? Was it so important to save everyone, or would we, the human race in general, have been better off if we had shed off the excess weight? We all have scales at home and as we get older, we step on them and we shake our heads and say things like, “I’ve got to shed off some pounds, time to go on a diet.” I wonder, if the human population as a whole was put on a scale and weighed by a higher authority, what would be the result? Quite probably this: mene mene tekel upharsin. I do hope corrective action is taken sooner rather than later.

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A Guide To A Good Life

How are you spending this time?

I thought I’d make a video about this historically significant period in our lives, one which deals with how I’m spending my time, with the importance of appreciating and enjoying one’s time alone and at home, and with using this free time productively, in ways which will enrich your lives now and later. (Sorry about the audio, my external microphone malfunctioned and I had to rely on what my phone’s microphone captured.)

Part of the discussion in the video comments centered around a reading list that would be well-suited to this time, so I put one together here. I hope it proves useful to you!

Released 21-04-2020
Thanks for watching!

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Places

Today’s images

The theme is spring and its beautiful blossoms. Enjoy!

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Places

Snowfall in the forest

We were treated to a second spring snowfall a few days ago. I love snowfalls in the spring. A cold wave can be unwelcome after spring has set in, but you know it’s not going to last, and if a snowfall is in the works, then it’s going to be a fun day: a short celebration of winter buffered by warm fronts at either ends, with lovely snowflakes to boot.

The first one happened right at the spring end of February, on the 27th to be exact, and I had so much fun taking photos of it at home and in a forest near Magarei (Pelisor), that I wished there might be a second one this spring. Come the 31st of March, there it was, practically begging to be enjoyed and photographed, so I was off to do just that. I stopped at one of our favorite hiking spots in that same forest and spent a bit of time taking in the scenery and photographing it to my heart’s content. I was, of course, on my way to do a bit of work at one of the monuments in the care of our NGO, the Saxon Pfarrhaus and Kirchenburg in Magarei. It’s seldom that I go out just to hike or just to shoot photos; I’m typically on my way to, or on my way back from, my various projects.

I also shot a little video, which I present to you here. It’s quite likely that most of you are staying at home during these new and weird times of ours, so I hope you enjoy the video and the photos! I have the good fortune of being able to travel through the beautiful countryside of Transylvania almost every day, as I go to work on our projects. Please understand I’m not rubbing this in your face, it just is what it is. This is where we chose to live and work and being in and around nature is one of those benefits, while people who choose to live and work in large cities reap other benefits (which may or may not be enjoyed or even wanted just now as they #stayhome till they’re sick of it).

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Apricot blossoms
Thoughts

Good things happening because of the coronavirus pandemic

Amidst all of the scary news reports and shelter-in-place rules everywhere, there are good things going on, caused by the very same situation. I thought I’d list several of them here:

  • We’ve all slowed down or stopped our activities and are spending more time at home, with our families. The frenetic pace of the world, chugging on all of the time for no apparent reason, has slowed down quite a bit. We now have time, time that we didn’t have before, to be with ourselves, to sit and ponder, to read a good book, to wake up and look around, to assess our lives, to think about our goals and projects. We have time to connect with those we love, even if it is only through video chats, but it’s more than we had before.
  • The world is a much quieter, more orderly place. Have you noticed how much quieter it is when you go outside? The chaotic movements of throngs of people, crowding our field of view, the constant din of the world pounding in our ears, is no more. Isn’t it lovely? All of the hustle and bustle and sirens and traffic and noise have now disappeared. The idiots who’d rev up their cars and turn their subwoofers up are now indoors, and good riddance to them. They’re keeping quiet and if they’re not, I encourage you all to call the police on them. Now we can actually hear the chirping of the birds in our cities. We can hear the breeze blowing through the trees and by our houses. We can take the time to see it caress the fresh blades of grass that are just coming up. We can actually take the time to smell the flowers.
  • Pollution and carbon emission levels are down everywhere. A tiny little virus has accomplished what decades of talks between high-level world leaders couldn’t accomplish. The planet has a chance for a proper spring, with fresh, clean air and water. This is a massive accomplishment.
  • Cities are cleaner. Not only are some of them actively scrubbing and disinfecting their streets, but they’re cleaner because all of the people who would be mindlessly littering them are now shut in. Each city’s street cleaning crews now have a chance to see the results of their work from one day to the next, instead of seeing idiots throwing garbage on the streets right next to them, as they’re cleaning.
  • The hygiene and public behavior parts of the new social distancing rules are a godsend. More people are finally washing their hands (and hopefully showering more often too). Knobs and handles in public places are finally getting disinfected. People are finally keeping their distance in stores and markets, instead of breathing down your neck in a queue. People are finally covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough. For years and years, I’ve gotten mean looks and veiled threats from people when I’ve told them to keep their distance from me, that I wasn’t comfortable having them so close to me. Now it’s finally happening by itself. For years and years, I was disgusted with the men who went to the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands, and then expected to shake hands with me. No more hand shaking now!
  • Telecommuting is now a must, whereas before it was regarded as a nice perk. I’ve been advocating for telecommuting for a long time (since 2006). I’m glad to see that companies are now making telecommuting arrangements wherever possible.
  • Travel has come to a screeching halt and thank goodness for that. Mindless, idiotic travel had become the norm all over the world. It had gotten so bad that it was normal for young people to fly from one corner to another of the various continents on weekend booze and drug trips, or for sexual miscreants to take “sex trips” to certain countries. And then of course we had the throngs of people, wave after wave after wave, who’d hit the major tourist hot spots in an endless assault on historic monuments, crowding out everyone including themselves. This was wrong. Travel is a good thing, a very good thing, but only when done mindfully, politely, considerately, taking in the sights, taking the time for reflection, taking the time to learn about the cultures you’re visiting, slowly proceeding from one place to the next, being careful not to intrude, not to litter, not to abuse. I truly hope that in the future, when travel bans are lifted, some sort of rules are put into place to ensure people never travel idiotically.
  • Governments all over the world have hopefully come to realize that they must put most (almost all) of their transactions with people online. In other words, as a tax-paying citizen of a country, you should be able to conduct most of your business with the government of that country (be it national, county or local) via the internet, instead of being forced to go to some office and waste your time in a queue. This crisis should speed things along in that direction.

Clearly there are costs for all of this free time that most of us have gotten. Let’s hope that they are mostly temporary, and that they won’t be too much of a burden for us all to bear. It’s easy to let thoughts of “what might tomorrow bring” get you down, but it’s vitally important that during this time, this unusual respite from the daily grind, that we take the time to breathe, literally and figuratively.

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Places

Today’s images

No particular theme for this set of images. Let’s just call it #phototherapy. We’re all stuck indoors, so we need it. Btw, I’ve been posting frequent images to my social media accounts lately, for the same reason. Enjoy!

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