Friday, 6:19 p.m.
My wife and I completed a borderline joyous Zoom happy hour with some friends, who live a half-mile across the neighborhood. We laughed in lieu of crying, and we laughed hard.
Friday, 3:01 p.m.
Snapshot of Chicago Tribune website just now:
Friday, 2:20 p.m.
A bracing conversation to say the least is taking place on the Facebook page of a speechwriter who wrote a letter to the editor of the London Telegraph to the effect that military generals would know what to do in a situation like coronavirus. If they were in charge, their decisions would be less sentimental (and "out of proportion") than the ones most government officials are making now.
The livelihoods that are being destroyed as a result of these social-distancing measures should be weighed against the lives that would be lost without the measures, the speechwriter wrote. For instance, "the [economic] damage will be as bad as a World War and let’s say 20,000 die from the virus. You know the military would have to lose 100,000 in the event of the invasion of a Baltic state," the speechwriter said. "You do not destroy the economy and civil society because of medical opinion."
Friday, 2:05 p.m.
On a run in Humboldt Park, daughter and I ran into someone who was wearing this one of these …
… which seemed a bit harsh.
Friday, 9:40 a.m.
A Chinese-American man who plays in my (now on hiatus) tennis league and missed a match last week was assumed by some to have the coronavirus.
Another member of the league immediately copped to having unwittingly started that rumor unwittingly with a jokey remark.
He issued an all-group email apology that concluded: "It was idiotic of me not to understand the sensitivity of this statement and that it would be interpreted as you being diagnosed with covid."
That's how it's done, friends.
Friday, 9:21 a.m.
Australian speechwriter Lucinda Holdforth is getting her laughs when she can—like every time she thinks of the Yogi Berra-esque quote from Minister of Health of New South Wales: "This virus has a mind of its own."
Thursday, 7:17 p.m.
In the Trump White House, speechwriting is a collaborative process.
Thursday, 6:45 p.m.
The rule in this house is that everyone's day has to include: Some exercise, some work, and some art. (We're counting the Sopranos as art, okay McJudgersons?) My daily self-care also includes a sack of pistachios and a big glass of Old Forester bourbon.
A recently laid off Writing Boots correspondent has found a different formula: "So yesterday, I worked out, got in the hot tub, turned on some Yacht Rock and smoked a bowl. It was the best house arrest day so far."
Thursday, 2:27 p.m.
My comic friend Daniella Mazzio writes:
going to pick up a laptop from the office during a pandemic:
-dont touch anything
-dark empty office is creepy
-careful unlocking doors and storage containers
-easy with that laptop
-have to use a wipe to control elevator
thinking of it as a low-stakes heist:
-careful not to leave fingerprints
-open doors with a glove and cracking locks with a flashlight — very slick, very Sandra Bullock
-im a hacker now
-somehow exiting the elevator in slow motion
Thursday, 1:52 p.m.
Do we really need to tell rich people that it's bad form to post that the are:
Landing soon in Grenada 🇬🇩 with my girls, the crisis couldn’t end better for me…
Getting rid of mask and gloves.
Boater again… heading to Spice Island Shipyard to see [my sailing yacht], get her ready to have us for the night, putting my flip-flops and shorts on and then rush to BBC beach for the custom sunset cocktail.
La Pura Vita ai Caraibi!
Apparently we fucking do.
Thursday, 10:07 a.m.
The New York Magazine headline is, "The Leader of the Free World Gives a Speech, and She Nails It."
Here's my take, which will appear in today's Executive Communication Report: Coronavirus:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel covered just about everything in a televised address to the nation yesterday. The textbook structure included an assessment of the severity of the situation, a list of actions the government is taking, specific calls to action for every citizen and a call for solidarity at the end:
I have absolutely no doubt that we will overcome this crisis. But how many victims will it claim? How many loved ones will we lose? The answer, to a great extent, lies in our hands. Right now, we can take decisive action all together. We can accept these current limitations and support one another.
The situation is serious, and the outcome uncertain.
Our success will also largely depend on how disciplined each and every one of us is in following the rules.
Even though this is something we have never experienced before, we must show that we can act warm-heartedly and rationally—and thereby save lives. It is up to each and every one of us to do so, without any exception.
Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
Thursday, 10:05 a.m.
Also new meaning to the old Woody Allen line: "“I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”
Thursday, 9:15 a.m.
My normally well-mannered father, when caught in a traffic jam or searching for a parking spot in a crowded grocery store lot, was known to bellow at the top of his lungs a certain general command. His granddaughter Brooke Ford remembered it yesterday, in a context the old man never foresaw. "If there was ever a moment to scream," Brooke emailed the family, "People, get to your homes!"
Thursday, 8:34 a.m.
The people who were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic were grateful to have something to do, anyway.
Wednesday, 5:56 p.m.
My daughter is crying downstairs; her mother is buying her a new bike; it's not helping.
Some thoughts on crying on a Facebook thread today, after a friend asked, "Anyone else working on their cursory daily cry routine?"
I replied, "I want to cry but can't summon the necessary focus."
Someone suggested that "maybe we all need a collective scream cry."
I do wish someone would organize that. And if anyone needs a jump start, this song always did it for me.
Wednesday, 4:22 p.m.
From a friend who works in a nursing home that's on coronavirus lockdown: "The residents think that there has been no bingo for 2 weeks because they are giving it up for Lent."
Wednesday, 11:24 a.m.
From my pal American Medical Association leadership comms chief Joel Hood, one of the great Facebookers in my life.
I can't conceive of a time when I'll ever wear pants again.
Wednesday, 11:12 a.m.
I find I'm not listening to people very well. And what's maybe more troubling, I'm not really pretending to. And I don't think they are either. Conversations seem more like, you say some stuff. And then I say some other stuff. And on like that until we're both sick of it. "But it's good to hear your voice …"
Wednesday, 8:20 a.m.
Just typed this, to a correspondent across the Atlantic, knowing he would know exactly what I meant: "It's hard to know what to do first, next, last … or at all."
Wednesday, 6:52 a.m.
Yesterday I worked about nine hours. Played tennis in two separate sessions, about 2.5 hours total, and ran a mile. Had three drinks and watched two episodes of the Sopranos with my family. In any other time, I'd call that a perfect day.
Wednesday, 6:17 a.m.
When she was little, my daughter used to pretend she was acting in a movie. At the grocery store, walking downtown, in a park, she'd turn to us and say, "Don't talk to me, I'm in a movie." I'm tempted to say that to people these days. And I keep waiting for someone to yell, "Cut!"
Tuesday, 3:20 p.m.
New rule in our house: The most coronavirus-conservative household member rules. If you can't convince that person that your out-of-home sortie is worth whatever the perceived risk, you don't go. (I haven't shared that rule with anybody else in the house yet, lest they lord it over me when I want to go play tennis.)
Tuesday, 9:33 a.m.
Humor writer (and University of Pennsylvania speechwriter) Josh Piven gives us a slice of his life, in Philadelphia:
"I took a long walk today because I had to get out of the house. My main concern was: Is the Parking Authority still ticketing, or is this like a parking holiday? A woman yelled across the street at me. She wanted to know if the Art Museum was closed. I told her I was pretty sure all the museums were shut down. She replied with an expletive. It’s good to know there’s still broad community support for arts and culture."
Tuesday, 9:14 a.m.
“A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You: an Open Letter to American CEOs” is my public answer to many questions about how frequently the CEO should be communicating during the coronavirus crisis. (Daily, is my view.) "The coronavirus crisis is profoundly disorienting for every American—but none of us more than the top executives of large companies and other prominent organizations. As our nation faces one of the greatest challenges in its history, people are increasingly looking for reassurance, guidance and solutions to you. Will you accept the responsibility?"
Monday, 3:55 p.m.
I'm working—urgently in the morning, dutifully in the afternoon. Home-from-school daughter and my schoolteacher wife speak in hushed and unhappy tones downstairs. Are they so unhappy I should take a break and check in and weigh in? Or are they just as unhappy as they ought to be at a time like this, and should I go on working? I've asked myself that question eight times today—and always decided to keep on working.
Monday, 2:27 p.m.
Parents: You might think you have it worse than your kids do during this coronavirus sock-in, because you have so many more responsibilities than they do, and what do they care about the stock market.
But I was on a train once, across most of China, with nine adults and nine high school kids. The adults were as happy as we have ever been in our lives: reading books, writing in our journals, playing cards and chess, drinking erguotou and napping.
The teenagers? Despite sleeping for about 22 of the 30 hours, they were going out. of. their. minds.
I tell you that because I'm trying to keep it in mind when my teenage daughter treats my admonitions about staying away from her friends as if coronavirus is just my latest elaborate plot to keep her from enjoying her life.
Monday, 12:05 p.m.
My Facebook friend Audi Martel proposed on Friday:
I have an idea. Can we just please close the stock market? I mean why do we need this to be going on when all these arguable smart minds could be focused on solutions to the pandemic and not money. Suspend that shit in time. What would really happen if we did that? Nothing. Like national holidays don’t crash the economy and we all go on spending or not spending. What’s the gd difference? #coronavirus
Does anyone have a good answer?
Monday, 10:57 a.m.
A helpful email promo this morning from Spirit Airlines, which asks us, "Are You More City or Country?"
Monday, 10:47 a.m.
A Facebook friend writes, "I wonder what Evelyn Waugh would have made of the current situation. Sometimes a discordant voice is needed."
Monday, 10:40 a.m.
A Saturday post by communication colleague Isaac Pigott:
We are not “all in this together.” We are in this at the same time. There is a big difference.
We are all faced with this COVID thing coming from different life experiences, different liabilities, different assets, different responsibilities… you get it.
We also are internalizing this reality at different rates, and with different coping mechanisms. The person who is a few days behind you in acceptance and processing isn’t a lesser human. (And the people who were a couple of days ahead of you aren’t better than you.)
Please be mindful about what you post. But what is ten times as important is being mindful about how you react to what you read. The person using humor to blunt the impact of fear isn’t belittling you, or being insensitive. The person who is posting articles about politics or economics doesn’t have their priorities “out of whack.”
This is no time to kill friendships, shame people or block people. None of us need the extra drama. If you have to use the 30-day mute, do it quietly. No need to manufacture drama. The last thing we want is for people to start feeling even more isolated than social distance and quarantines will make us experience.
Be there for those who need you. Family, friends, coworkers.
And if you need an ear? I’m around.
Monday, 10:34 a.m.
First friend to report he believes he has COVID-19—a colleague in the speechwriting world, came down with symptoms Friday. Mild case, he says he's feeling mostly fine.
Monday, 10:32 a.m.
Do you think it might be time to just have a good cry?