Regis Philbin–an Icon who was anything but

There is an old wives’ tale that famous people die in threes.   My sister and I will often text one another whenever an old movie or TV star passes away, then comment like “two more to go!”

Just this weekend Olivia de Havilland died at 104 along with John Saxon at age 84.  But when I heard about Regis Philbin dying at 88, it bothered me.  He is one of the few celebrities which I hoped would never die.

It’s incredible to think that when his morning show with Kathie Lee Gifford went into syndication in 1988, I was doing my student teaching.  Through the years of his show I got married, had two sons, and my mother died.  No wonder I felt attached to him—he was on the air nearly half of my life.

My favorite part of the show (I’m sure many of you would concur) was the opening chat between the hosts.  I liked it primarily for its spontaneity.  The unscripted segment was refreshing compared to all other TV talk shows which are meticulously pre-written and rehearsed.  It felt more real, more authentic.

What also made is pleasurable was Regis himself who never came across as a big shot, a host with a big ego.  He was natural not pretentious, someone you could imagine talking to at a coffee shop for 30 minutes in an easy way.

I saw Regis twice in my life, both times from afar.  One time he was at a Barnes & Noble signing his book.  The line was too long; otherwise, I would have done it.

The other time was at the 2002 Rose Parade when he was Grand Marshal.  Coincidentally, I was in that parade riding in a vintage automobile.  I was one of two teachers chosen from Glendale Unified School District for the honor.

As all the floats, cars and horses lined up in the dark on Orange Grove Boulevard at six in the morning, I walked around and saw him leave the Rose Parade Tournament House after eating breakfast.  I was so excited that I videotaped it.

Because I was embarking on my new career as a teacher, I was unable to watch many episodes of “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.”  However, whenever I was home during a week day, I would make sure to watch the opening segment to see what Broadway show he and his wife Joy went to see or which restaurant they ate at because there would always be a story about some mishap that occurred in their evening out that would put a smile on your face.

So many famous people are phonies, but Regis was the real deal.

 

 

 

 

Dependence Day–What We Need on this July 4th

It is July 4, 2020.   Independence Day.

But what’s there to celebrate?

In terms of instant gratification, restaurants are closed, firework displays canceled, family gatherings shunned.

Covid-19 does not look at a calendar, sees a holiday and takes a day off.  In America yesterday, 53,000 people tested positive for it and close to 600 people died.  This virus remains untamed not so much in the whole world, but mainly in America.

Remember America?  The greatest country on earth.  The one place where people from all backgrounds can plant their flag and have opportunities nowhere else to be found.   Geographically, it is a land mass of 50 different states.  Kansas is not Hawaii is not Florida is not California.  Yet the name of the country has been the UNITED states for 244 years.

At no time in my lifetime has the United States seemed so divided.  The coronavirus has given a test to Americans:  can they roll up their collective sleeves and tame this malicious malady?  Can they follow basic ways to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, keeping apart and washing their hands?

After four months, the answer is “No.”   The 2020 version of the U.S. is not the 1941 version or the 1929 version where most Americans worked together for a common foe be it a financial collapse or a threat to democracy.  What happened to those type of people that used to be plentiful?

As a nation, we don’t all trust science.  We challenge scientists and doctors.  These aren’t politicians who have agendas.  These are intelligent people who study evidence and come to conclusions.  Too many people think they are wrong.

That’s a problem.  Because if we all can’t agree that Covid-19 is highly contagious, that if you contract it you will be very sick and depending on your biology could die from it, then we can’t agree that the sun is in the sky during the day and the moon appears at night.  Facts don’t exist.

But the most important fact about Covid is that the majority of people who contract it are asymptomatic.  They feel fine, no signs of illness.

That aspect of the virus is the cruelest because it gives people a false sense of security that they can beat this thing or, worse, that it is a big hoax.

When people think of the word “pandemic” they picture millions upon millions around the globe dying.   Thank goodness most people who have it won’t die.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.

Think of a serial criminal that has broken into several homes in your community.  Have you seen the criminal yet?  No.  Do you know anyone who has?  No.  So logic leads you to a wrong conclusion—the criminal does not exist for only one reason—he hasn’t reached your house yet.

Why do people allow themselves to be fooled in believing that if something bad hasn’t happened to them that means it doesn’t exist?

There is a worst disease out there.  It is selfishness.  That seems to be a trait common among many.  Is that how we define “united” these days?   Live one’s life any way you want, to hell with everyone else?   Because that describes many today.

Journalist Damon Linker who writes for TheWeek.com explains what is happening this way:  “It amounts to a refusal on the part of lots of Americans to think in terms of the social whole—of what’s best for the community, of the common or public good.”

Two trends over the past decades have contributed to the decline in people thinking of others:  one, the decline in parents teaching values, two, the elimination in schools teaching citizenship.

The old saying of reaping what one sows is happening in front of our eyes right now.   It has taken years for this to grow and it will take years for Americans to reset and learn not only what it means to be American, but what it means to be human.

 

 

Distance Learning articles published in Chicago Tribune and Zocalo Public Square

Here is my latest Op-Ed on distance learning published today in the Chicago Tribune:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-coronavirus-remote-learning-schools-20200612-7u46fjns6zfx5ib7psywav5c7e-story.html

 

Here is my view on distance learning published this week on Zocalo Public Square:

 

After 11 Weeks of ‘Distance Learning,’ This Teacher Is Glad to Be Retiring

 

 

Noble the Nudge

There is someone I know who has had the time of his life during this Pandemic-driven shutdown of life.  His name is Noble.  And he is our dog.

Noble has always been one for deep, unblinking stares that burn your eyes. We have given him two nicknames over the 10 years we’ve had him:  Mr. Intensity and Personality Plus.  Age, despite the old adage, has not mellowed him.  Now with both my wife and I home 24/7, he has turned into Mr. Intensi-TY and Personality Plus Plus.

Lately he stares at me so long, he is probably wondering why I am still at home and not at work.  He can’t believe his great fortune!

He’s my shadow following me from room to room; even when I move from one part of a room to another, he must get up and be close to me.  To an outsider, this may seem loving and adorable, but after a while he becomes a nudge.

When I sit at the dining room table, he lays on my left foot so the rest of his body can rest on the warm area rug not the cold wood floor.

When I sit in a club chair and swivels outside of his sight, Noble moves to find my face.  If I cover my face, he makes anxious noises and swerves either to the right or left in order to find the piece of my face that is not covered.  I swivel, he swivels.  It’s like a one-on-one basketball game:  I’m playing offense and he’s playing defense.

Noble has his own schedule.  He waits for me to wake up so he can get his first of two feedings.

If on the off chance I sleep in past 6:30 a.m., Noble bangs open the slightly closed bedroom door, going to my side of the bed to poke his wet nose into the my body, usually my face.

When he goes outside, he will either bark to be let back in, or his favorite way of communication, an ear-splitting body SLAM against the screen door.

Once my wife wakes and eats her toast, Noble sits motionless like a Sphinx on the area rug in the living room about 10 feet away from the dining room table.  Often he resembles the old RCA Victor dog statue.  If my wife blurts out to him with a stern “leave it,” he comically swerves his head away, but the body remains cement-like.

When my wife gets up, that’s the signal for him to stand ready in the laundry room in case a corner of a crust inadvertently falls from my wife’s hand into his open jaws.

Next on the agenda is the morning walk between 10-11.  He always looks at my wife to make sure she’s joining us.

His afternoon feeding time used to be 3:00 p.m.  Since I’ve been working from home it has receded to 2:30 p.m. due to the elongated stares, and bellowing moans.   I refuse to buckle under the pressure to feed him any earlier than 2:20.

Soon thereafter, the last item on Noble’s to-do list is a ride in the car.  This is his E-ticket.

In fact, this is when he is at his loudest.  The wildest combination bark and howl I have ever heard bursts out of his body in immense exhilaration for what is about to unfold, so much so that he keeps bouncing from backseat to front seat and back again.

Funny how he reserves his loudest barks over the most enjoyable moments of his day:  his feeding, his walk and his ride in a car.

Finally, after sundown and three and a half revolutions on his oval-shaped dog pillow, Noble settles in for the night.

What a beautiful day in the neighborhood for Noble.

 

 

Breaking News: A Car Wash Re-Opens

Folks, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A rainbow is on the horizon.

Carefully, gingerly, life is coming back.

Today my wife and I went to get our cars washed.  Not at a self-serving cement partition with a water wand, but a real full-service car wash with employees cleaning, vacuuming, shining our cars.  One of the attendants was amazed to see the size of our gratuity.

If it weren’t practically illegal not to mention unhealthy, we would have given everyone we saw there a wraparound, squeeze ‘em tight hug.

Hallelujah!  It almost felt as jubilant as the day we got married.

You mean, we can actually go to a place of business and do our business there, not take out, not have it delivered, but actually get serviced on the premises?

Yep!  Just as it used to be, just 9 short (not really) weeks ago.

It felt so liberating.  After months of limited our errands to markets, gas stations and takeout, going to the car wash felt like hopping on a plane to Hawaii.  A trip.  A journey.  A holiday away from the stay-at-home, lockdown, claustrophobic atmosphere that I still have not gotten used to.

What’s next?  Will our dog groomer soon open her doors?  How about a haircut?  Will a reservation be taken for a dining experience in July or June or end of May?  An overnight getaway?  I have already received an email from a favorite inn in Santa Barbara announcing their re-opening and at 20% off.

I can smell it coming.  I can sense the joy returning to life.

This 4th of July, which most likely will not be celebrated with special concerts, firework displays or large gatherings of people, should focus on not the birth of the country, but its re-birth, celebrating the liberty from sheltering in place.  Happy Birthday to America’s re-opening.

And whenever businesses slowly re-open, be sure to embrace it.  And don’t ever take it for granted again.

Teachers’ Makeover during Pandemic Nothing Short of Miraculous

Friday the 13th marked the end of the 2019-2020 school year and my 31-year career as a high school English and Journalism teacher in any practical sense.

Due to stay-at-home directives, school was out—literally.

When all the books and documentaries about the pandemic of 2020 are published years from now, at least one chapter needs to spotlight the heroics of America’s public school teachers.

All across America, distance or remote learning premiered in the weeks following spring break.

Like sending a man to the moon within a decade was monumental for NASA, to some degree enlisting public school teachers to learn a whole new way of delivering instruction within as little as a week deserves to be on the short list of amazing feats performed in record time.

Yes, Ford and General Motors in a matter of weeks retooled their factories to make masks and ventilators instead of Mustangs and Silverados, quite an achievement.

But imagine a workforce of 3.2 million retooling themselves, learning new online platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom in a matter of days, not weeks.

With communication limited to emails, teacher training sessions went into emergency overdrive in just a few days, an all-hands-on-deck IT team recording and posting how-to webinars on various synchronous and asynchronous programs to assist faculty.

Lightning quick, schools organized their version of the Marshall Plan, handing out laptops and hot spots by the hundreds with the help of employees donning protective gear, echoing the Leave No Child Behind creed from the start of the century, ensuring that all children have access to virtual classrooms.

The reality that schools would not reopen for the rest of the school year hit district offices like a meteor, stunning them so that they didn’t have time to rollout training gradually.  Instead, they had no alternative but to entrust teachers to pick and choose which learning system they felt most comfortable using.

Once all systems were go, as if learning a whole new of way to teach from home was not challenging enough, teachers had to be creative and compassionate on how to keep students “tuning in” to their virtual classrooms.  It didn’t help that districts decided to freeze grades, i.e., final semester grades would be the third quarter grades unless a student’s grade increased.  Students who did not turn in work via remote learning would not be penalized, and no student would fail a class even if that was the third quarter grade.

The ‘A’ students have no motivation to produce work since they are guaranteed to end up with an ‘A’; the students at the other end of the spectrum have a free ticket as well as they magically will earn credit for doing no work.  In other words, all the work done in the final 25 percent of the school year does not count.

Yet teachers march on—posting videos, screencasting lessons, scheduling live sessions—all while working in the dark, not truly knowing if anyone is paying attention.

In a real classroom, I often have students read an article or watch a video then have them pair up with a partner and share their thoughts which leads to a whole class discussion, ensuring everyone will hear at least something.

In the virtual classroom, I post the material and create an assignment with no guarantee that students did the work themselves.  Even if I have them post comments, I have no idea how many will read their classmates’ thoughts.

Many jobs can be done at home or partially at home, but teaching requires human contact.  In all the ways I imagined how my career would end up, teaching at my dining room table was not a credible scenario.

And while car companies will eventually revert back to manufacturing motor vehicles, teaching may never look like itself again, at least for quite a while.

Already district personnel are holding emergency meetings strategizing how the reopening of schools in August will happen while maintaining social distancing.

Yes, schools will reopen.  No, they will look vastly different especially in the upper grades where students have several teachers in one day.

I often have up to 40 students in a classroom.  Measuring for six feet of separation would result in two empty seats for each occupied one.  So instead there may be 15 students.  Obviously the teacher workforce can’t be doubled in size, so time may be halved, 30-minute periods instead of 60 minutes, or some students attend school on even days, others on odd days, or some in the morning, others in the afternoon.  See the logistical nightmare ahead?

Yet judging how incredible districts quickly adapted on the fly to the challenge of no school, officials should be capable of working out a hybrid of in-person and online learning environments.  Such a model may last the entire 2020-2021 school year if the coronavirus returns in the fall or winter.  This will not please parents who will need to scramble for child care since students will no longer attend school all day, five days a week.

Never before has such an undertaking been done in the history of public schools.  Never before have I been as proud of our profession, one that I am exiting by mid-June.

That is why on May 5, National Teacher Appreciation Day, wherever you may be, stand up and applaud those who take care of America’s future.

 

I’ve Got the Covid-19 Blues; Whiteboard Jungle welcomes Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader readers

NOTE TO READERS:  Now that the Los Angeles Times folded the local newspapers, the Glendale News-Press and the Burbank Leader, my column, The Whiteboard Jungle, will continue on my Crosby Chronicles blog.   Thank you to all who read it.  Please send your comments.

It has been 7 weeks since I last taught a class, 7 weeks since we have been in the Stay-at-Home mode.

And in 6 weeks, I will be officially retired from teaching.

With nearly two months of living this way, one would think a pattern would arise, a schedule take hold.   But why hasn’t it?  Because I feel that I am in a holding pattern.

I keep waiting for me to get into some kind of groove.  Instead, I feel aimless, waiting

for . . what . . . the country to reopen, for me to reopen?

There are only a few certainties in my daily life right now:

  1. 6:00 wake up and feed dog
  2. 6:30 walk for 45 minutes
  3. 7:30 post lessons
  4. 8:30 shower
  5. 10:00 walk the dog
  6. 12:00 make lunch
  7. 2:30 feed dog
  8. 4:00 take dog for ride
  9. 5:30 make dinner
  10. 6:30 my wife and I watch our usual “Dateline” or “48 Hours”

The above list may seem that I am indeed on a schedule.   But, quite frankly, the bulk of the time between 9-5 feels empty.

  • I should be doing more writing, but I’m not.
  • There are many parts of the house which could do with a floor scrubbing, but I have not done it.
  • The same thing with our cars. Haven’t washed one, not even vacuumed the inside. That’s 2 months and counting of dirty cars.
  • I finally bought a shredder to start throwing out boxes of old financial records from the garage. I discovered that having a shredder means spending time feeding it a few sheets at a time, and that the resultant scraps of paper take up a lot of space in the trash cans.  Shredding does not mean disintegrating.  So  I am no longer that excited about that little hobby.  It’s faster (and just as safe) to just throw everything out in the non-recycling trash can.

And so, I do a lot of waiting around for the next item on my To-Do list to arrive.  I am allowing the clock to run my life, to dictate what I’m doing, instead of me living my life and occasionally looking up at the clock.  It also means a lot of walking around the house and going into the kitchen, drinking more coffee than I should, eating more snacks (chocolate mainly) than I should.  Even laying down in the afternoon, drifting off for a ½ hour while listening to an audiobook.

I can’t wait for things to return to normal.  At the same time, I have to frequently remind myself that my life is slowly ending.  I now have 7 fewer weeks of life than I did back on March 13.   During the lockdown, that time hasn’t been put away in a bank’s safety deposit box, waiting for me to claim it once Gov. Newsom waves the green flag.  No, the past 7 weeks is just that—in the past.  So if I wasn’t that productive, the onus is on me, no one else.

I am amazed watching my wife who has the self-discipline of the sun sit at the dining room table, our default office, and not budge from her seat.  She even remains sitting when I give her lunch.

I, on the other hand, can’t sit still for long periods of time.  One problem (or excuse) is that I am not totally comfortable doing work at the dining room table because it is slightly higher in relation to the chairs, causing arm strain.  I have no desk in my bedroom, but my sons do.

Son number one’s desk is unusable because it is hard to locate it with all the stuff strewn on it including clothes and phone charger cables.  Son number two’s desk is better since it is orderly and I do use it occasionally, but the window faces me as I sit there, meaning the backlight bothers my vision.

And then there is the constant laser eyes of my dog starting around 9:00 a.m. and lasting until 7:00 p.m.  He probably can’t believe that his Alpha Male pal is around all the time all of a sudden.  If he is not staring at me as I eat, he is laying on my left foot underneath the table.  Often, he barks to be let outside, then a running slam against the screen door alerts us he is ready to come back in.

I hope that I can get more done with the next several weeks until the economy reopens in a new-normal world.   More worrisome:  what will the new-normal of myself look like.

 

Column Ends, Blog Continues

As many of you know by now, the Glendale News-Press, the Burbank Leader and the

La Canada Valley Sun will no longer be published.

This means that you are reading my last column, a column I have written since early 2011.

At that time, the Times was trying out something called the 818 Bloggers and I was part of that crew.

My column, originally called “The Crosby Chronicles,” became “The Whiteboard Jungle”  by 2013.  The main focus was education, but I covered an array of issues that impacted young people.

Even though I wasn’t compensated much for my near decade-long tenure, I took seriously the responsibility of having a voice in the community.

Every other week I would agonize over the column; as any writer will tell you, good writing comes from good revisions.

Early drafts often totaled 1,500 words, too many for a 600-word column.  However, it is easier to delete words than add them, advice I often pass on to my students.

It is also easier to have a meticulous editor, my wife Sherry.

I feel bad for newspapers who have struggled mightily the past few decades with dwindling ad revenue and readership.  Losing journalists is not healthy in a democracy.  Nowadays, more people access internet posts controlled by those who are anything but real journalists.

Next time there is corruption in the cities of Burbank or Glendale, who will report on it?

The public will suffer without the fourth estate as its watchdog, especially at a time when real news gets mislabeled as fake news.

When my editor called me Thursday evening about the paper’s demise, it coincidentally was the same day I turned in my retirement papers to the Glendale Unified offices.  How strange is that?

Yes, come June 12th, after 31 years, I will return to being a private citizen, no longer a public school teacher.  Except for the first 2 weeks in September of 1989 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles (noted for calculus teacher Jaime Escalante), I have spent all of my career at Hoover High School in Glendale.

I had several ideas for future columns lined up including one about my retirement from teaching.  Now this is a column about my retirement from working.

When people ask me, “are you sure you want to do this” my response:  it is time.  While I still have my health and enjoy my job, I’d rather leave a little too early than stay a little too late.  Besides, as Vin Scully often commented, we are all living day to day.  No one knows what our expiration is.

Still, I do feel that I have something to share, wisdom to pass on, mentoring to perform.

Veteran teachers bring a unique view that only time and experience can nurture.  A reservoir of talented and imaginative people should be tapped at a time when invention of a new way of structuring schools and teaching students is already underway, if only districts would use them in leadership roles.  It is a precious resource too often taken for granted and overlooked.

I want to thank former editor Dan Evans who hired me as well as current editor Mark Kellam.

Most of all, I thank you for reading what was on my mind.   With apologies to Maytag repairmen, writers are the loneliest guys in town.  We perform alone not knowing if anyone out there cares about the words we string together.  Each kind email received made my day.

I cling to the belief that former students now in their 20s, 30s and 40s remember something from the days with Mr. Crosby that has made a positive impact in their lives.  I know their being in my classroom made one in mine.

For those of you who are interested, I will continue writing my blog, the CrosbyChronicles.org, and plan on writing more books.  Email briancrosby1958@gmail.com.

God bless and stay well.

 

 

 

The Birth of Remote Learning

As I write these words I am completing the first week of teaching in a completely new way—without students.

Over the coming weeks I will share with you my successes and pitfalls teaching in a virtual classroom.  Right now, my head is still throbbing with how quickly the world has changed in just a few short weeks.

Recall that old Chicago song, “Does Anybody Really Knows What Time it is?”  That’s how life feels like:  is it morning or afternoon, Wednesday or Thursday, and does the word “weekend” mean anything anymore.

Have you noticed how quiet it is in your neighborhood lately?  Eerily quiet.  Cars are parked in front of houses but there are no people, reminiscent of the first Twilight Zone episode, “Where is Everybody?”

Social distancing hits older folks harder.  Those under 25 have been practicing social distancing most of their lives through texting and apps like Skype and Face Time.  In fact, they are more comfortable not speaking over the phone or seeing each other in person.  Can you imagine how people would have dealt with social distancing just 20 years ago?

Never before has the use of technology been so vital than during this shutdown of America.  Parents who used to shudder at the number of hours their children spent on their devices now view those electronic menaces as lifelines, especially as they scramble how to do their jobs at home.

However, no workers have had to revolutionize their occupations on such a grand scale as have teachers.

Welcome to the birth of remote (or distance) learning which has kicked off all across America this week.

Teachers, students, parents, and school officials are all experimenting with a brand new form of learning all at the same time.  It must be what astronauts felt like when first going into outer space.

Imagine doing a job you have been performing for several years and being told you have one week to do the same job in a completely new way.  It is a humongous undertaking.  New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza described it well, telling the New York Times that “we are literally flying the plane as we’re building the plane.”

One of the negative aspects of the teaching profession that I have addressed frequently is the lack of trust school officials have in allowing teachers to determine how best to serve their clientele, the students.  Too often top-down education trends are forced down the throats of educators with little input.  Teachers are supposed to behave like good soldiers, following the orders of their superiors.

Since this online revolution came out of nowhere so suddenly, education officials were clueless how to proceed.

Credit goes to Glendale Unified School District for stepping out of the way and allowing teachers to decide how to teach remotely.

The district provided teachers with a panoply of webinars and other resources from which an educator could pick and choose which ones to use.  For those with an advanced case of technophobia, the district gave teachers the option of handing out printed materials even though that meant figuring out how and when to deliver them to students.

Never before in all my 31 years have I been so entrusted to make professional decisions on what is best for me in reaching out to my students.

Well, teachers, I hope you are paying attention.  Take advantage of a situation which may never come your way again.   Everyone—students, parents, even principals and superintendents—are counting on you to teach kids in a way that has never been done before.

Once this health crisis is over, and school officials see how heroic teachers met this challenge, hopefully teachers’ stature will rise.

Let’s show everyone what we can do.  Make the country proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living through a Pandemic

Incredible how our lives teeming with jobs, errands and recreation can be instantaneously wiped clean, filtered down to only one concern:  “Do we have enough toilet paper to get us through the week?”

Going to work and school, eating out, attending movies and concerts, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, observing religious traditions—all halted.  Freeze frame life as we know it.

And the places that remain open such as grocery stores are scenes from a bad end-of-the-world Netflix show.

My son and I have traveled to market to market to cobble together meat, eggs, and peanut butter, standing in lines, standing apart.  We drove by two gun stores in Burbank, each with a line of people outside.  Just what kind of world are we living in?

One where terms like coronavirus, COVID-19 and social distancing have been added to our existence.

It is dizzying to think how much has transpired in the past week.  Gov. Newsom said on Tuesday that schools are unlikely to reopen this academic year.

Funny how the last school day was Friday the 13th.  At that time, it was clear that schools would not resume soon after spring break.  As my students left, I joked to them “Happy Fourth of July!” not knowing how prescient that was.

State testing has been cancelled, the College Board plans on administering Advanced Placement tests online, and graduation ceremonies—well, who knows?

Never before will so many people have to rely on technology to keep them connected to their work and their loved ones.

Glendale Unified teachers scheduled to return to work on March 23 most likely will remain at home, watching webinars on how to design online lessons to salvage the remaining weeks of the spring semester.

A life without doing whatever we want is unchartered territory for all but those old enough to have lived through World War II and the Great Depression.   They remember rationing of tires and sugar, meatless meals and gasless days.  It was not uncommon to ask Americans to sacrifice for the greater good.

The closest most people alive today can relate to any kind of sacrifice would have been the rationing of gas during the oil crisis of 1973 when drivers were only allowed to buy gas based on the odd/even last number on their license plate.

So the idea of giving something up even temporarily is a habit alien to most.  That partially explains why some people, mainly young ones, are not heeding the advice of government officials to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

While we want to believe that during a crisis people’s better parts rise to the occasion, toilet paper hoarding proves otherwise.  How many 24-packs of toilet paper do people need?  Thinking of other people is an ancient practice it seems.

There is a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the stock market crashes and people run into the Bailey Building and Loan to take their money out.  George pleads with his customers not to drain the limited bank’s money supply, but to only ask for small amounts to get them by in the short-term.  While some take all of their money, others think about George and other customers by limiting their withdrawals.

That’s the kind of neighborly attitude we need right now.

If we are to get through what possibly may be the worst pandemic since 1918 when over 675,000 Americans died out of 103 million, we all have to sacrifice for the greater good.

As I tell my students, the one comforting aspect when studying disasters in history is that we know when they ended.   Yes, the Civil War was horrible, but it was only 4 years long.  But those alive in the 1860s had no idea how long that tragedy would last.

Not knowing how long the current health crisis will last creates anxiety in us.  We don’t know what the coming months will bring.

The one constant that has helped my family cope with this health crisis has been our dog Noble.  He doesn’t care about COVID-19, only that his bowl has food, he has a walk, goes for a car ride, and plays with rope toys.   How delightful to be blissfully ignorant of the dramatic changes we are all enduring.