Category: Coronavirus

Labor Day During a Pandemic: Working Hard While Hardly Working

This year’s observation of Labor Day has to be the most poignant one in American History.

Here’s to you, working harder than ever behind the scenes trying to figure out how to re-imagine your business for these trying times, and trying to figure out how to bring your business back to the level it was at before the pandemic. You’re putting in untold hours of extra effort. You’re losing untold hours of sleep. But I have a feeling that in doing so you’ve learned a lot about your business and about yourself. You’ve revealed what really works for you and what never was really working in the first place.

Here’s to you, working overtime to fill in for gaps in the staff where you work. These are the times that make a staff a true team. A collective with one agenda. Here’s to you whose hours have been cut. Working fewer hours than you did before, you may be pushing yourself to the limit to make yourself indispensable to your employer. The year 2020 has brought us to one of those “when the going gets tough” moments in history and people everywhere have stepped up and shown their employers and themselves what they are made of.

Here’s to you, unwillingly out of work. There is this old-timey way of thinking that is still around which asserts that a hard-earned living equals a certain morality, and gives a person value. While a hard-earned living is honorable in and of itself, it does not assign any inherent value to the earner. And even though, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, “these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls” it is certainly not a moral issue. We saw that more clearly than ever when the U.S. federal unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% to about 15% this spring. While I won’t debate the wisdom of state-wide lock downs vs. the push to re-open, we saw how adamantly so many people fought to get back to work rather than collect an unemployment check.

Here’s to you, putting in extra hours – your home time, your free time, your family time – thinking about what you will do if things change at work. Not because you want to think that way, but because you have to be prepared. This has been your chance, without anyone really blaming you at all for it, to see what other possibilities there are for you. Maybe you never really had a Plan B or a Plan C, etc., but thanks to Covid-19 now you do. Maybe it’s made you re-evaluate what you want out of life. Maybe it’s helped you to re-invent yourself.

Madness can be a wellspring of opportunity when you’re looking for it. I hope you’ve looked and found it. We’re all doing the best we can. Over the course of 2020 we’ve had to live in the moment even while preparing for the bleakest of possibilities. It’s been a weird paradox of a year. We know we are meant to live in the present. If you think about it, you’ll likely agree that you are at your sanest when you are not re-living the past or playing out endless future scenarios in your mind.

I started this post talking about those who were working harder than ever while not really doing business at the level they’d like to be. We’d all like to be “working hard while hardly working” but in a different way. Busy, busy, busy, but never feeling like we are “at work..” We all want a productive, prosperous, full life. It’s my wish for all of you this Labor Day.

The Summer of My Discontent

Something weird has happened this year. I know you’re probably thinking “Umm, yeah a lot of weird has happened this year, man. Keep up.”

No, not that, but it’s probably related to that to some degree. What I am talking about is that for the first time in my life that I can think of, I can not wait for winter to start.

Maybe it is because of COVID-19 and the havoc it has brought on our economy and the over-all limitations imposed upon our everyday goings and doings. But it is also because it feels like this is the hottest summer in the history of mankind. It isn’t, I don’t think. But I am tired of the humidity, a.k.a. “the air you can wear.”

I’ve already told my wife that when it snows, I am going to go “play in the snow” and I swear I will. I am not going to build a snowman. I intend to frolic. I had been saying I did not want snow. Just cold. I always say my wheelchair is allergic to snow. The more I think of it though, I’m not picky. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year it’s how to stay home if need be.

I’m finding myself getting excited, anxious for winter. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the calendar and I’m dumbfounded that we still have a third of 2020 to go. It really feels like winter should be any day now.

I envision hunkering down in a quiet country cabin in front of the fireplace (because you can’t stay cold all of the time), a refrigerator well-stocked with apple cider or hot cocoa-making supplies (depending on my mood), sitting at a giant oak desk (a brobdingnagian fortress of a desk) with an olde-timey quill pen and parchment paper, and a hefty list of freelance writing projects to work on.

I’m kidding. I don’t have a cabin.

But apart from the things about our society that need to change forever – which this whole year was a chance for us to do – like most of us, I would like to pick up where I left off in the early spring. Enough lamentation though. When I go frolic in that first snowfall, I’ll be taking the opportunity to embrace what was previously repellent to me. I’m well on my way to accepting whatever this winter will bring.

Okay Let’s Brainstorm

“Brainstorm” sounds like a hipster word to me. I don’t really know why I think that but I stand by it. It turns out the term was in the dictionary at least a century ago.

Then, the definition of “brainstorm” was “a sudden and severe attack of mental illness”, “a temporary loss of reason” or “a serious error in judgement.” In fact the Oxford Dictionary still supplies those as alternate definitions. These days, a brainstorm holds connotations of something more positive, creative and constructive, usually a group discussion designed to generate ideas.

It isn’t group hysteria though.

Funny though, when someone has an idea that they want to lay on you that is new and unique, and maybe even a bit unorthodox, they’ll probably – perhaps self-deprecatingly – present it as a “crazy idea.”

These are usually the best ideas, probably because they were the result of the person doing a little bit of brainstorming on their own. I’m not saying that every “crazy idea” is a great one. Many of them are just…well, loony ideas. But a really good idea is very likely at some point considered by someone as a “crazy” one. Everything that has never been done before looks crazy to someone. But a lot of things that have never been done before are exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, maybe without ever knowing it.

You’ve heard that song that goes “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” right? Well what the world may need now is “crazy ideas.” Maybe we need risk-takers. To say we need a “paradigm shift” is a cliche, hyperbolic platitude. Like when people say society needs “change” but without offering any particular plan. Maybe it even sounds like a crazy idea.

So it’s probably worth looking into.

Opportunity Comes Once Every 6,700 Years

Today my personal Facebook page gave me a bittersweet reminder of where I was as a freelance writer one year ago. That day last year I posted a link to a piece I did for my first on-going client of which I was particularly proud.

It is bittersweet because of how quickly a string of very promising leads this spring amounted to naught. It was partly a failure on my part to seal the deals, but it also had a lot to do with the emergence of Covid-19. I do my freelance work mostly from home, whereas the leads were customer-facing places of business. Surely they were keeping a very close eye on the unfolding situation.

Not that I wasn’t. Maybe it was the idealist in me that kept plugging away at leads as though the world were not about to be drastically upended. Maybe it is the idealist in me that keeps me believing that I’ll have those opportunities again, and what keeps me promoting my freelance business. It was still fairly new when Covid came along, so it turns out last year amounted to its glory days.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all of this as the Neowise comet passes by this week. If you aren’t aware of it, the comet will be visible between now and July 24th, and will not return for 6,700 Earth years. If you’re doing the math at home, that is a once-in-almost-one-hundred-lifetimes sight to see.

We’ve all probably been told at some point that certain opportunities come once in a lifetime. Covid or no Covid, a lot of us can’t help but wondering what opportunities we allowed to shoot right past and burn out before our eyes before Covid came along and made it all kind of irrelevant. That’s not something one ought to dwell on, and I won’t.

I don’t think that last summer was my only window when it comes to local freelance writing. Because I know that commerce will bounce back, one way or another. It may not look like it did last summer, but we will recover. So I hope that when my fellow local business owners get back on their feet, I will be able to connect with them and help them in that recovery.

For tonight, I think I’ll head outside and sit under the stars for a while and take in a celestial spectacle. At least of that one I can be certain this week is my one chance in this lifetime. I don’t want to miss it.

In A World Without Major League Baseball



I spend long stretches of time ’round the midnight hour on any given night watching endless streams of Major League Baseball clip montages. Some of them are year-in-review type videos from last season. Some of them have Willie Mays in them. Though the game has undoubtedly changed, to me baseball is baseball.

Which makes me wonder why I am so distressed at the growing possibility that an entire MLB season may never happen. And if it doesn’t happen, then I wonder what it would be like if Major League Baseball just never came back.

I don’t think that’s how this will all go down, but just what if?

I had a dream a couple of nights ago in which I was at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa fielding grounders from my wheelchair. I was flipping my chair over to make a play, and flipping right back up as if it were nothing. A reminder, perhaps that baseball is a simple game of the people. It grew from an absolutely non-formal kids game, to a leisure activity for working class men with written rules, to organized but non-professional clubs, to the professional leagues like we have today.

Even though it came from humble beginnings, a part of me feels like in today’s world, were the professional game suddenly removed from our national consciousness – the TV broadcasts, the merchandising, the obscenely expensive and flashy stadiums – that baseball might be like the ageless philosophical question about a tree that falls in the woods with no one there to hear it.

Another part of me knows very well that even without the pros, baseball would still be a thing, just on a very local level. And we’d all develop our own private histories of the game in our own little pockets of the world. And maybe that would make it more special to us. More intimate. I know many would feel that way about the game if only money were taken out of the equation.

With that in mind, I recently made the bold proclamation on my personal Facebook page that I was starting a new Major League Baseball and that there would be no salaries. I got a couple of guys signed up so far. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m really just speculating, but I can see that the NBA and NHL already appear to be on their way back to “game on!” And if MLB can’t return to the field just as gracefully, then it will not bode well for the professional game. Maybe there would still be some independent leagues around. With the promise of fame and fortune in the big leagues out of the question at least we’d know the players were in it for the love of the game.

Anyway baseball, in the form that we’ve come to know and love it down the generations, will be back. I know, because Terrence Mann told me so in “Field of Dreams.” He said:

The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Baseball will most definitely be back.

When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Writing For the Sake Of Writing, and For Something Bigger

My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.

I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.

Alas.

This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.

But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.

For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.

Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.

I hope you and those you love are doing very well.

Happy Quarentine’s Day

I spelled it wrong on purpose. That’s “Quarentine’s” which rhymes with “Valentine’s.”

You see, over the last few weeks, couples have learned a lot about their relationships, it seems. For these couples, being at home together all day, every day has brought to the forefront an assortment of minor annoyances that maybe aren’t so minor when you are suddenly forced to confront them all day, every day.

Full disclosure, my wife and I have just as many squabbles as any average couple, I’m sure. And we’re not even shut in together as I am still working my day job Monday to Friday. But it straight-up shocked me when I started hearing all of the talk about how divorce was going to skyrocket in America as a result of this ordeal. Then I started hearing actual couples after actually being shut in together for just a couple of weeks talking about how impatient they were getting with each other. It’s mostly a nation-wide running joke at this point, but all jokes, no matter how exaggerated, have at least a morsel of truth in them.

Not that I don’t think my wife an I might be at each other’s throats from time to time if we were together all day every day, but this whole situation has got me thinking about why we get married in the first place.

Why we choose to spend our lives with the one person that we choose.

Why we refer to it as “spending our lives together” at all.

I think for most of us it’s because she or he is the one person with whom we feel like we really could do just that. With that in mind, I want to tell you the story of the night I met my wife.

We met on an MSN chat room (remember those?) in the fall of 1999 and our first conversation was an argument. You see, that night, I was just in their killing time, as was she. Neither of us were “looking for love”. My wife’s very first impression of me was that I was a jerk.

She was not wrong.

At the moment I was publicly roasting some guy for the way he was openly flirting with women. My wife told me off, I defended my actions and we went back and forth. We ended up talking privately and eventually I made her laugh and convinced her I wasn’t really a jerk.

I mean, not really.

We talked for a while but left it at that not really thinking anything of it. Fast forward a few nights later, and I saw her in the chat room again. She was using the same name as the night we’d met but I had changed mine. So when I asked her if she remembered me, she said she didn’t. Though I gave her a few details of our conversation, she is a cautious type. Even if she did remember me, she said she didn’t.

I had actually changed my MSN chat room handle a few times since we’d met. So I had to rattle off a few different, increasingly embarrassing monikers until I finally said the one she remembered, at which point she conceded that she did, in fact remember me and the rest is history. We spend the first four years of our relationship going months on end without actually being together.

Had I not been able to come up with that name before she got tired of dealing with me, she may have put me on ignore if that was an option. We would never have spent those four years mostly apart learning how much we did not want to be apart anymore. She would never have become my wife.

We don’t know if at some point we will also be experiencing this current hyper-togetherness, and for how long. For you, if nothing else comes of it, may you at least be reminded of what it was about your significant other that made you want to actually and really “spend your life” with them.

Happy Quarentine’s Day!

Gone: “Viral”

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is no laughing matter. We don’t know how many people’s health will be affected, or how much it will disrupt our lives. But it is easy to get overwhelmed with worry about what could happen, if you think about it too much. I found myself in a heavy funk on the way to work yesterday, allowing some rather apocalyptic scenarios to dance in my head.

Throughout the day I decided that while I plan to be as cautious as is prudent right now, I will not entertain “worst case scenarios” if all it’s going to do is deplete my peace of mind.

I came home last night determined to write something, if not uplifting, then at least light-hearted. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking we should hold off on using the phrase “gone viral” in reference to social media. Under current circumstances, the words just carry too much weight. And again, it does affect our peace of mind to think about negative situations too much.

Covid-19 is nothing to make light of, but it is a fact of life that the way we are doing things is at least temporarily shifting. So long as that is true, there must be other ways to talk about a post, picture, video or what have you, that spreads far and wide on social media.

Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  1. Warped: Remember Super Mario Bros, how you’d be in that underground brick room and you’d find the secret door and suddenly you’d be in the sky jumping across tree tops? I don’t remember if that was how it went but the point is you’d warp, and out of nowhere you’d take a giant leap forward. (See also, “Leveled up”)
  2. Hulking up: I don’t know how old you are, but surely you’ve seen Hulk Hogan back in his day when he’d rip his shirt off and go into that whole head shaking, finger wagging, convulsive sweating routine. When he did that you knew he was about to go off. Now when you hear “Hulk” most of us probably think of the Marvel comics Hulk. Same deal. When he went off, big things happened.
  3. Gone Poprocks and Coke: Since I am clearly in throwback mode here, though I wouldn’t recommend it: You know that thing where you dump a whole package of Poprocks in your mouth and then you guzzle some soda and your whole face explodes or whatever? Yeah. I think that is a fine metaphor for how quickly a good post can be everywhere.
  4. Uncorked: Same concept, much less dangerous with proper eyewear. Celebratory in nature.
  5. Kardashing: Why not name it after the people that made viral social media posts a thing in the first place? It just feels right.

    I’m sure you have some better ideas. Let’s hear them. If nothing else this could be an exercise in finding different ways of doing things. Again, we don’t know how much our lives are going to change at least for the immediate future. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, and watch out for each other.