I am taken by the absence of sound when I walk out my door.  Each day is beginning to feel like an early summer, Sunday morning where the whole world is sleeping in and planning on attending the later noon service. Walking my dogs, I wave at a neighbor I have never met and we share stories across an empty street.  The air is amazingly fresh and clean. Honestly the only time I have ever experienced this was after a weeklong rain storm when every atom of the sky was scrubbed clean and the filth that had spewn forth from our factories, our cars, and our mouths was unceremoniously, and literally, washed-down-the-drain.

I love seeing Facebook actually work, in the way that I hope it was designed.  A forum of conversation and sharing for friends old and new.  My mouth waters at the sight of Tommy Bilbo’s Velvet Scrambled Eggs, and laugh come cocktail hour when friends gather for a virtual Quarantini! What I find palpable, in my perusal of personal posts, is the noted absence of stress. What I do not detect is any sense of resignation. No, what I sense is . . . relief. A widespread, anti-panic. (TP hoarders aside.)

Happy news! The dolphins have returned to the canals of Venice whose waters have become clear again with the absence of motorboats stirring up the silt.  In other happy news, the air quality in China has improved drastically. Some say up to a 25% reduction in carbon emissions.  Here in California we do maintain the strictest air quality standards in the US, and perhaps the world, and again I marvel at how clear each day has become.

The working from home thing has been a bit of a challenge for some companies as they scramble to purchase laptops for all of their employees. Question to business owners: Now that you have invested in so many laptops, why not keep them working? That is to say, why not have a more intensive work from home policy? America, for the most part now, is an information driven society. I was thinking about this last night as I sipped a simple, yet precocious Grenache; enjoyed with my 3 egg omelet filled with homegrown asparagus, tender avocados, onion garlic, basil and cheddar; and realized that in the past  economy of resources has driven us to congregate for work, and work related activities. Discounting for just a moment the obvious social benefits of seeing other people every day, the stark reality is that; when we were a manufacturing based society, raising cathedrals, milling lumber and spewing coal smoke, from the steam engines driving the Dickensian industrial age; the work was only ever in that one location.  Now, with computers, high speed internet and video conferencing, much of America’s work can be done from home.

But Tom! What about employee productivity? How will we ever really know if someone is working or not, since they are not in the office producing their TPS reports right in front of me? Well my goodness, it looks like managers just might have to be a little more creative about how they train, manage, measure and verify productivity, won’t they? No more walking around the office holding a narcissistic coffee cup emblazoned with the WORLD’S BEST BOSS!!  No managers will actually have to use their heads and develop ways of monitoring the quality and quantity of a person’s output.  That being said, let’s look at the other side of the ledger for a minute. If fewer people are congregating at one location, then that location does not need to be so large. Smaller office = less rent. And if fewer people are commuting to work, then fewer carbon emissions will be emitted into our atmosphere. Fewer commuter miles = lessened vehicle costs and time lost in traffic. And if I am correct in my observation that stress levels have dropped, well then, the general quality of life has improved for almost everyone. Crazy! It did not take First Contact with the Vulcans to come to the realization that we are killing our planet and ourselves. No, it took our weakened planet, trying to rid herself of infection, to show us the way to save us all.

My fear, same as yours. I cannot even bring myself to write it.

In the mean time I will enjoy the quiet and revel in the tales of friends who have driven to the City in under 30 minutes passing only the lonely security guard on their way.

Until tomorrow, please remember to shop local. Visit Vallejo has posted a list of local businesses that are still open and ready to serve you.  Shawna Gilroy at the Times Herald has offered a special advertising rate so that you may reach a broader audience.

Tommy Judt

p.s. Also, please be careful out there, where the streets are quiet, and no one can hear you scream. The dead may just be coming back to life . . . and . . . Zombies do run.


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