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Day 42

It's Official

It’s official. The decision has been made and the shelter-in-place order for the San Francisco Bay area has been extended until the end of May. This isn’t a surprise. We’ve all be expecting the announcement. And it isn’t a bad decision. It’s wise.

But man, after six weeks of staying at home, the thought of five weeks more just reduces me to actual tears. I won’t list the litany of people I long to see and the activities I long to engage it. You’ve got your own lists. We may be socially distant right now, but we’re united in our fierce desire to “get on with the show.”

Oh, well, until then, damn you, coronavirus.

What can I offer on a bright note? Surely there is something!

Ah, yes. Two items of note: First, a couple of family members and I are starting a book club. We’ve picked our first book and then we’ll FaceTime talk about it. We don’t argue about politics, but I bet we’ll have a lively discussion about the book. We got the idea from The New York Times and went with the paper’s recommendation for a first book, Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas. Anybody read it?

The second item of note, I got to chat with my college mentee today. Like college students most everywhere, “L” is back home, taking classes online, missing friends, and campus life. What is the first thing she’s going to do post-sheltering-in-place? Go for a donut! How can you argue with that for a cheerful back-to-normal priority? I called to see how I can help L with her life but truth be told, her positivity made my day! We laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt.

And so goes Day 42, the end of Week Six. OMG. Many more weeks to come! But Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming. Life renews. We’ll get through this.

Bugs Bug Me in the Air … and in Print

New Year's Resolutions for my Beloved New York Times

Bugs Bug Me in the Air and in Print

I don’t mean to bug anyone, but some issues have been troubling me for a long time. So, in hopes of redress, I’m sending this letter to the new publisher of  The New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger.

Dear Mr. Sulzberger:

Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on your ascension to the helm of the Gray Lady. What a terrific promotion, one that comes at such a critical time for The New York Times and our nation.

As a lifelong subscriber, I wish you the best of success. In addition, I would like to offer a few suggestions, call them New Year’s resolutions, you might consider implementing ASAP.

Before I begin, do you mind if I call the paper “The?”  I feel we should be on a first-name basis since I’ve been reading The since, well, since I was old enough to read. My family always subscribed to The even when we lived out West and had to have the paper mailed to us in the dark ages before regional printing presses and the Internet.

Turning first to the Tuesday Science Section: Let me preface my remarks by affirming: I believe in evolution. I believe in vaccinations. I believe climate change is real.

That said, I must speak out on behalf of a neglected group of readers who—each week—are cruelly assaulted by your Sci-editors. Read more

Everybody’s a Critic

Feedback Bites Back

Critic taking and giving stars

It used to be that criticism belonged to the ranks of five classes of people – professional critics, impartial consumer product reviewers, your mother, your best girlfriend, and your in-laws.

Now, thanks to the Internet, everybody’s a critic. Everybody with a bone to pick — informed or terribly ill-informed — is a critic.

You can ding short-staffed restaurants, struggling retailers, and barely-managing masseurs on Yelp; you can demolish drivers on Uber and Lyft, and you can anonymously trash-talk people on all sorts of social media websites. It’s a scary Internet world.

For a long time, I ignored casual “citizen” reviewers. If I wanted to know what somebody thought, I wanted to know what somebody-in-the-know knew and opined. If I needed a theater or a movie review, I opened The New York Times Arts and Book Review sections. If I needed a new toaster or vacuum cleaner, I turned to Consumer Reports.

If I needed confirmation that my husband was an insensitive clod, I asked my mother (although she generally sided with my husband). If I thought I looked fat, I’d ask my girlfriend for a hasty assurance that I was mistaken.

But now I know that everything is reviewed online, even you, even me! Read more

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