From the Editor

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

 

 

I had been rather excited on February 27, of this year, when I received an email from the Smithsonian, announcing that on April 4th, they would be sponsoring “Free Museum Day”. You know how much I look forward to this day in September, though it usually conflicts with the Free Admission Day, at the National Parks. I so love when I can do both!

I would have shared it immediately, but I wanted to give the “Free this Month” column, the proper attention it deserved. I did not imagine that by April 4th it would be all but impossible to find a museum open to visit. Our lives have changed; taking stock seems to matter more than it has since September 11, 2001.

We knew, when we were in Florida, last month, that things were becoming more serious, and that if travel was going to be restricted, as it had in China, in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, we would be more comfortable in Maine. Thus, as the news grew more dire, we knew it was time to head back to Maine, if nothing else, there were groceries to be bought, and I wanted to see with my family.

I have no idea when I will visit with them again, but I am thankful I invited everyone over, and was able to share my treats from Florida with them. Also, so very happy I was able to see my sisters twice that week!

Though we did not see everyone we wish we had, while in Florida; happily we were able to visit with so many of the people which we love.

Actually it has been that type of year, almost to the month; I am amazed and grateful at all of the people we saw, in our road trips last year and were able to entertain, either in Florida or Maine. For each of us, the restrictions placed on us regarding travel and the size of group interaction vary, but limited we all are, at least for the duration.

But oh what a year it was, leading up to these days; I am very thankful to have been able to spend time, in person, with so many of those whom I care about; and I am happy that we were able to make so many stops, taking countless photographs and going to the kinds of places, which I enjoy sharing with you. Also, we re-visited a few places, mostly unplanned, but well photographed this time. If I have to unpack and hang up my camera, for a bit, I will be okay to continue with these pages. I have many adventures I would like to share with you.

But constraints on travel and interaction are only, perhaps, the most obvious change we are dealing with this spring. Lately, the statements about who has tested positive, have once again dominated the news. It is hard not to be reminded of the late 1980’s, when the words “tested positive” were succeeded by aid’s; in those pre-‘cocktail’ days.

I remember living in Long Beach, California, mostly carefree, though I certainly did not think so then. I was working at Walden Books, which is no longer around, discovering what my “grown-up” life was going to look like, and repeatedly reading or hearing that someone else, both in the world of the rich and famous and just an everyday Joe next door, had aids and would most likely die. It is hard to listen to names and details about their lives, of these latest victims of coronavirus. I cannot help but spend time thinking about what might have been, who will make their contribution now, what might the world have been like if they had lived, and continued to enrich our world?
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It is hard to believe we are back in that reality; oddly once again the powers that be, have told us if we restrict certain behavior, we have a chance to not get sick. Yet, humanity seems determined to push the envelope, regarding what the word no means. How can we not be grieved?

There all kinds of sacrifices being asked of people, prompting many of us to think of what we have read about during war; mostly World War II, but that may be a culture reference for me, filtered through Western Civilization, my age and being a historian. The consequences for ‘throwing caution to the wind’, as it were, remind me of that quilt; yes, the quilt.

When it came to Long Beach, we took the girls to see it; not because it was a happy or fun thing to do, but because I knew it mattered, and I knew I had been blessed by parents, who always made sure I saw whatever mattered where ever we were; I felt an obligation to share that legacy. I will never forget seeing the quilt, laid out on the ground, and understanding that every name represented a life lost. Many of those people had died before it was understood how aids was transmitted; and there was nothing they could have done. But others knew, and still chose to follow their desires; not thinking about those who would bury them, and spend a life time mourning their loss.

We are back to a world, where our behavior matters; the difference this time is that our devil may care choices now impact others, as well as ourselves. How can we not have learned?

Can we blame a younger generation, one that did not live through aids; I wish that were the answer, but this reckless behavior seems to be ageless.

Deep breath, there is nothing I can do about anyone else’s choices. Right now my biggest regret is that I wish I had bought more generic greeting cards. I know that is kind of a silly thought, but I really do wish I had a stock pile of cards. What I know, as I sit here in in this state of quarantine, is that tomorrow really is not promised to anyone; I have seen too many people die before their time. Aids, Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11, the loss of both of my parents, Aunts, Uncles, friends . . ., life is short and can end too quickly. I do not want to waste my life or have regrets; I want to make sure that I never again fail to send Easter cards, even to my friends that are Jewish, Muslim, atheist, and yes the Christians too. I wish I had bought more cards last year; they are always on sale after the holiday. I have no excuse.

So April 4th is free museum day; I doubt any of us will get to go. I imagine they will reschedule it, most likely to coincide with Free National Parks day, in September. Happy Easter, whether you celebrate Easter or not, I still wish you a blessed and peaceful Resurrection Day.

Whatever your issue, get over it quickly, there is so much to live for and celebrate. If you are mad, perhaps, you are out of something, or you have been laid off . . . , I get it and I truly sympathize with you, but as my Mother would have said, scratch your mad spot and get glad; find an alternative to what you are missing, and know you will find another job. Do not let the troubles you are facing, rob you of life you could be living. That is all for now.

My Disclaimer:
I have to say that I feel torn. Like most publications of this type, I visit and photograph the locations; I share with you, about a year ahead of time. Thus, going forward, for the time being, know that I am strictly adhering to the government’s council to social distance; but I will be sharing with you post birthed before this current state of “quarantine”. As with many other webzines and magazines, I often write articles for ahead of time, because I know, for example that Public Square in September will be a 9-11 Memorial. I am happy that I have so much material to draw from; but I now will have to question posting Steak Sandwiches, in Food, when I know steak, tomatoes, and lettuce, may all be hard to find-adjustments will be made. Thank you for sticking with us!

Connected

What Does the Data Tell Us?

 

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We have a belief that more data equals better decisions. But many times the data that we receive is not accurate and complete, and we are only getting a partial view of what we really need to know, in order to make solid decisions.

Recently, it was discovered that location data was being collected from cellphone users to provide information on social distancing patterns because of the coronavirus. We all understand and many of us accept, at this point, that our data is being collected and then used to make decisions, especially for public safety.

But I wonder how much data will be enough and if the coronavirus has opened Pandora’s Box to our privacy?

Let us start with who is doing what and explore if it is a good idea. Did you know that:

1) China uses a tracking system via a smart phone app. The app is called Alipay Health Code, developed by Ant Financial, which is the sister company of Alibaba, which uses the wallet app and downloads a QR Code. The QR Code will appear in three color schemes and provides real time data of the contagion risk of that person. The three colors of the QR Code are; green, allowing the person to travel and be in public places, yellow, stay home seven days and red indicates a two week quarantine. The app also provides a hidden feature that sends the persons location with an identifying code number to the Police. It should be noted here that many of the people who were healthy, still had a red code, preventing them from going out and illustrating that the data was not completely accurate. https://nyti.ms/32Hyr4z

2) Taiwan is the first to use an “electronic fence” via the smart phone. The police will be alerted if a person moves outside of their quarantined area or if they turn off their phone. Additionally, assigned people will call the quarantined person twice a day for verification that they are home and have not just left the phone on. Taiwan has been praised by many for keeping the spread of the coronavirus low.

3) Israel has been authorized to use cell phone location data to use contact tracing of people who have the coronavirus. They will use the data to identify all people who have been in contact with the infected person, and quarantine those people as well.

4) European countries have had a more difficult time because of the General Data Protection Regulation GDPR, which prevents the data sharing of personal information. However, there has been a temporary suspension and carriers are sharing data with these nations to verify that people are complying with limitations of movement.

Now, what are we doing in the United States to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and what data is being used to assist us in this endeavor? Unlike other countries, where there is overt data that is being collected and used by the government in collusion with mobile providers and other businesses, our data actually comes from all those apps that we download and many consumers do not even realize what information we have willingly provided. For example, one study just released last week states that iPhones have over five thousand hidden app trackers. Companies such as Unacast are able to collect location data from games, shopping and utility apps, which we have installed on our phones. Unacast declined to answer which apps they collect data from, but they have assigned letter grades A through F, to states that show a reduction in movement from people; are people staying home, and when they do leave, are they only visiting grocery stores and going back home. Tectonic is another company that recently showed a heatmap that went viral after being able to illustrate the potential spread from spring breakers leaving Florida and going to other states using cell phone location data from X-Mode.

How much data is too much data and do the circumstances matter? We hoard data, thinking that it will make a difference, but it has not, as the numbers of people infected by the coronavirus continue to show.

One thing I know for sure, I do not want my phone’s location used for any app or for marketing and will be carefully looking at what apps use location services and removing them so I can be safely Connected.

Film’s Recommended by Marcial


 

“This is a trading world and men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.  If he worthily fulfills his mission and amuses without corrupting, he need not feel that he has lived in vain.”

 
~ Phineas T. Barnum ~
 
Capote, US, 2005, 114 minutes, crime drama
 
The Jacket, US, 2005, 103 minutes, Science fiction thriller
 
Hugo, UK, 2011, 127 minutes, family drama
 
Source Code, US, 2011, 93 minutes, Science fiction thriller
 
It’s a Wonderful Life, US, 1946, 132 minutes, classic drama
 
Casablanca, US, 1942, 102 minutes, drama/romance
 
How to Steal a Million, US, 1966, 127 minutes, classic comedy
 
Beginners, US, 2010, 105 minutes, comedy/drama
 
The Debt, US, 2010, 114 minutes, espionage thriller
 
Larry Crowne, US, 2011, 99 minutes, romantic comedy
 
Ed Wood, US, 1994, 127 minutes, comedy
 
Keeping Mum, UK, 2005, 136 minutes, black comedy

The Mouse That Roared, UK, 1959, 83 minutes, comedy

The Party, UK, 1968, 99 minutes, classic comedy

Fair Game, US, 2010, 108 minutes, political thriller

The Right Stuff, US, 192 minutes, Drama

The Black Balloon US, 97 minutes, Drama


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My Mother’s Favorite Verse

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”~ Jeremiah 33: 3 ~

~ Aristophanes~

High thoughts must have high language.

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