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Saturday, April 25 -Sunday, April 26, 2020

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to my new “Weekend Edition.” As you may know, I’ve been posting daily since Friday, March 13, when I arrived home from Portugal to a locked-down Southern California. But I’ve found that after writing all morning I get writing-saturation syndrome. Or more likely, screen-saturation syndrome.

So after Zoom Church last Sunday I gave my blog a day off and spent my writing energy on writing emails to my cousin up north and school friends in Pennsylvania and England. It felt so good to communicate with them that I decided to use Sundays for letter-writing, both email and hand-written.

It was all letter writing when I started back in the fifties. A friend recently sent me a packet of my early letters. I was embarrassed to see how many of them started with an apology for not writing. So boring. Kind of like those Christmas letters that begin: “I can’t believe another year has gone by.” Well, what did you think it was going to do?

Today there’s no end to the communication options: text, phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Facetime, and increasingly these days, Google Messenger, Hangouts, and Zoom. As Lydia Denworth says in Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, “there is no one way to do friendship.”

In the pandemic lockdown environment we need all of them. In spite of articles that decry social media, studies (again see Denworth) show that they are an important extension of our need to connect. In fact, most online friendships are based on personal friendships that move to online communication. Many friendships use multiple media, communicating with phone, text, email, or face to face, depending on the situation.

With the COVID shutdown my phone time has definitely increased. Both plain vanilla phone calls and at least four different kinds where you can see each other. These lead to conversations like the one on the right. Not exactly warm and fuzzy, but worth the effort.

And actual letter-writing itself is worth the effort. I’ve put together a basket with stationery, stamps, and pens to get me started. There’s nothing like getting a note in the mail. Especially now.

Think of anyone you know who’s alone today and write them a note. A few caring words they can hold in their hands. Think of it as a hug. You’ll both feel better.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“How to Create Screen-Life Balance When Life Has Shifted to Screens,” New York Times.

“Coronavirus: Why going without physical touch is so hard,” BBC.

“Reopening Has Begun. No One is Sure What Happens Next,” New York Times.

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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