COVID Update:  Problems Pile On In California

Well, the last week alone has NOT been kind to CA. Before I dive into that laundry list of problems, let me offer some positive personal news…

I am headed out-of-State for a fishing tour through Alaska in the coming weeks, much anticipated as a break and adventure.

Oddly, on the very day we began making bookings Alaska installed a new policy for visitors. Basically, you must show up there with a 24-to-72 hr. old negative Covid Test result in-hand (or pending) at time of entry; tricky when real (non-emergency) tests currently take 2-4 weeks in CA. Ouch.

Solution is on-line ordering of personal Covid-testing Kits that allow Fed-Ex overnight sample deliveries and rapid, paid-for processing. Problem solved; we will be heading out and praying that when the test can be viewed on-line from our Anchorage Quarantine Haven, the result is NEGATIVE. Fingers crossed.

And so, what has happened just this last week in my corner of Northern CA…

  1. Alameda has installed an outdoor mask-mandate.
  2. Rolling blackouts are occurring across the State.
  3. Wildfires have broken out all around.
  4. WHO (World Health Organization) announced everyone should adjust to a permanent new COVID Norm.

And of course, there is the ongoing…

  1. All-you-can eat rioting, violence and social unrest flooding the daily news.
  2. Homeless issue expanding before my eyes.
  3. COVID Pandemic as our painful backdrop.

With the calamity of the warring political party Conventions in play a friend was quick to note that, “all we’re missing now is an earthquake.” Not the best quip to make in the face of karma when you live in California.

In my writings I generally ATTEMPT to make the points I make, neutral; trying to stick with relatively indisputable truths regardless of what egg may end up on which face.

I have little universal reverence for any single political party but accept that eventually we all must choose the least poisonous (overall) option and VOTE.

Voting is a privilege of being in a Democracy, for those who WANT to be; although apparently not everybody does, especially right now.

Since ancient Greek times Democracy is generally accepted to require an educated population. It is unclear what and who determines the standard of education; however, it currently appears to be measured and defined by age (18), the voting age. So be it.

Now the candidates are a different matter. And here I have something specific to say…

I would PREFER that the candidate who gets my vote meets some minimum requirement. I WANT that they and the prominent folks surrounding and advising them, meet my own (albe they) arbitrary standards.

Now, here is my dilemma. I like to see Honesty, Integrity and some level of Intelligence throughout these competing teams. I can lower the bar a little and recognize the realities of human frailty. I could lower the bar a LOT.

But regardless of the party for which I will vote, it is impossible for me sink so low I can find an acceptable candidate and surrounding team.

Oh, I WILL vote but I will NEVER accept those who get my vote are truly worthy. They are hardly a Socratic group, regardless who you support.

Perhaps this is universally true in politics, irrespective of the Country in which you cast your vote?

I HATE to accept the adage that people get the government they deserve. Surely humans deserve more and better? I hope I do.

We must expect leaders to be necessarily worldly and without naivety, but it is abundantly clear that Politics does not attract the brightest and best; too many candidates are motivated by lower aspirations.

But enough on this subject.

Let me briefly make some notes regarding the litany of CA burdens listed above…

Outdoor masks are now (newly) required in Alameda County. Not a happy relapse. I visit there for weekend sailing and noted that most residents were already strongly compliant before the restriction was installed. 

They are worn for walking and outdoor exercise; some remove them when nobody is close; many do not.

And they have their Mask Nazi’s, even pre-dating the new mandate. “No mask! No mask!” I have heard called out and people routinely shrink away from one-another on barely populated sidewalks.

Their fear drives paranoia, it controls and defines them.

The oppressive nature of that (Alameda) district is palpable. The unwelcoming feeling there is distinct from less restrained areas (like my hometown, Santa Cruz; outdoor masks not required).

Once a fervent following and fanatical belief takes grip, visitors and those less compliant feel the bite, they will be pushed.

Now Rolling Blackouts are occurring in CA, brought on by multiple warm days. The prompt Gubernatorial response announced that Energy Officials were caught unaware. Odd, given it was clear the rapid (~30%) energy shift to wind and solar power was KNOWN to be vulnerable to any more than just a couple of consecutive days of hot weather.

One official added that the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine how and when we’d like. I will bet there was not a single engineer directly involved in this development who did not know this shortfall was coming. Of course, the vilified gas energy sources are still used for the power-shortage bailouts.

If it is truly unclear to anyone:  In CA there will be many instances of numerous consecutive hot days next year, the year after and so on. Please take note. Sigh.

And then came the CA Wildfires. They are running largely unabated in every direction from here, except West into the Pacific Ocean. A National emergency was declared with >500 blazes surging in CA, alone.

Inevitably the above-ground electric grid is further compromised by the (often) lightening-induced wildfires; so, the situation with power-outages is exacerbated.

The air is foul and ashes drop frequently and heavily. Some days the air clears momentarily as the wind changes direction. But it is short relief; as the day wears on the wind shifts back, the sun yellows again, fading later to orange then crimson as it lowers in the sky to present an ironically scenic sunset.

Outdoor exercise is unwise and sometimes officially advised against; you can taste the air on your teeth and down into the lungs even when wearing a mask. About 45,000 of the (approx.) 300,000 population have been evacuated so far in Santa Cruz County.

Friends have been evacuated or warned removal is pending. Houses in the Hills are most vulnerable and at this point broadcasted containment levels are frighteningly low.

If you evacuate prematurely road closures and restrictions can make return difficult or impossible.

Last year the fires centered more heavily towards Southern California, this time there is more fuel still available up North. Many of the Western States are stricken, especially along the Pacific Coast.

And the Hills around here have plenty of fuel. Routine woodland and forest floor clearance work is not performed. Money from taxes is spent on more interesting projects even though essential forest management requirements have been defined for a hundred years.

Imagine if you lost YOUR home, YOUR friend or even an unknown firefighter unnecessarily to such wanton annual mismanagement. Well people do, each and every year in California.

I enjoy living in California. I have travelled extensively and have chosen to settle here, right now. But I see others are revisiting such choices.

Then next came the WHO Pronouncement a few days ago.

They advised the World to permanently adjust to a new norm featuring those changes already made for COVID. WHO knows what this fully means? 😊

The WHO’s actions and voice are now seemingly aligned to an obfuscated new agenda.

Should we expect an on-going cycle of new pandemics? This has been prophesized by virologists for many decades. Human history says it inevitable.

Most important is what was and is learned from COVID-19? How to mitigate and control what might be possible and affected. Apparently, nothing was learned (and “Nothing done”) of note during the 2009 H1N1 experiences and oddly, we are even currently arguing about where the current Pandemic originated; financially-driven interests sometimes now declare it to be a European Virus.

COVID-19 is a relatively highly infectious, but LOW mortality-rate virus. Despite the unacceptable number of deaths, as with the H1N1 debacle we have been LUCKY, again. What will happen if (when?) we have a Pandemic with high transmission rates AND high mortality? What if it were airborne? To believe we now have established any comprehensive level of preparedness is pure optimism; we are deluded.

As for the current National COVID Pandemic, my head is spinning from the on-again, off-again conditions of promised re-openings. Certainly, a lot of factions can dig in their heels to keep Schools and Universities closed even when many locals seem to disagree with the prevailing rulings and mandates. Home schooling has a whole new (on-line) meaning.

On a related point, I still do insist that of the 58 counties in California that were subject to closure and restrictions of various forms, MOST should never have been closed. The numbers say so. An umbrella approach to these controls and restrictions was and is completely unnecessary.

I recall that several months ago Butte and Sutter Counties told CA government that their people needed to earn a living and get to work, wanting little part of CA State COVID Plans. They have subsequently fared very well and remain EXTREMELY low in infection and total deaths. Santa Cruz County (somewhat larger, 300,000 population) has been kicked around by State restrictions on business and people yet has (infection and death) rates that look a little BETTER than even Sutter and Butte Counties.

You are 5X more likely to contract and die from a typical annual flu in Santa Cruz County than from COVID-19. It seems we had room to be WAY less aggressive with restrictions hereabouts. Not sure the local mitigation is as profound as CA health Dept. would have you believe. I AM sure a lot of local businesses have closed.

Currently in the US there seem to be MORE opening restrictions being laid down than there are moves towards re-opening. Europe is basically aggressively going quickly in the OPPOSITE direction. Why is that when there is a shared high-level consistency in the overall trends of numbers?

Social issues, Demonstrations, Riots and unrest are causing many to reconsider where they live. The State’s role in handling the Homeless, Annual Wildfire and Energy Supply problems are at best alarming and questionable.

I have friends and family who want out. People ARE leaving. Some have left already.

When I check the news there are similar concerns and migrations going on in New York, San Francisco and LA. It is hard to believe people in Seattle, Portland and Chicago with any get-up-and-go have not already got-up-and-gone.

Hollywood Celebrities are moving away, some seek alternate Citizenship and new Countries, many want to at least relocate their homes. Riot-damaged businesses everywhere slink away to less troubled grounds (when they still can) and mostly offer no honest commitment to rebuilding locally.

Wealthy residents can make choices and will make them when pressed. The masses just inherit the shells and husks left behind.

Many damaged lives and sites will see no short-term recovery.

But I live in a privileged place. Not all these plagues, blights, events, and mismanagements reach my home. Yet the burden of what goes on all around weighs on every shoulder, even when personal inconvenience is low.

It is exhausting. Nobody wants the weight.

Are you affected by these events? Are Wildfires, Power Supply, COVID, Homeless Issues or more inserting themselves into YOUR life?

Should you act to better protect your future? MUST you act now to mitigate imminent threat(s).

It is better we honestly and objectively assess what is immediately upon us and what lays on the horizon for ourselves and loved ones. If action is necessary, do not risk delay.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.


COVID-19 UPDATE: Anger, Frustration & Weariness Predominate

We are now in the era of Coronavirus SPIKES, inevitable consequences in some re-openings.

The media feasts on the calamity; sometimes with cause, but always opportunistically.

Most people I meet have simply had enough. Although most children quickly adapted unaware to new norms, adults simply accepted and soldiered on, mourning previous times and lifestyles, often forced to abandon longed-for social and travel plans.

Many seek out-of-town outings to mitigate the drudgery of restrictions. Some pick up stakes and make temporary, multi-week moves to less controlled areas where there is more solitude and less critical supervision.

For others, there are often regular daytrips, while many remain miserably stuck-in-time, sheltered-in-place.

There seems no ideal place to hide away, avoiding the impositions and controls. Domestic (US) sites are all subject to some level of social supervision and demands. International locations are mostly the same, many not wanting visits from outsiders. The EEC is aligning to resume travel with some 15 countries; US citizenry is so far specifically excluded.

There is a common theme, a repeated mantra spoken to address all issues, “Oh, it’s political. This wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t an election year.” Over and over the point appears.

But now it is not just Pandemic restrictions and requirements weighing on the soul, it is demonstrations, riots, deaths, killings, occupations, destruction, racial tensions, revisionism, crime-rate explosion, economic harms, national and international events and more.

Groups, Unions, Political Bodies, Celebrities and Organizations make demands for Funding, Defunding, Recognition, Support, Program Investment and all too often, FEALTY. Most factions appear headed for disappointment, to remain unsatiated and angry at days end.

With a laundry list of proven-questionable Town, City, County, State and Federal governance already on display across the country a truly mixed bag of results and on-going consequences can be expected.

There are countless domestic protagonists; many small tails demanding their right to wag a very big dog.

And all this is opportunistically driven by sides, fueled by callous sensationalistic media and those aggressively seeking personal gain by leveraging every single cut inflicted.

The citizenry suffers an unrelenting deluge. If you stay abreast of any news there is no escape nor respite. So, when do things normalize?

Its likely conflict will end when each faction receives what they must accept, or their position simply becomes untenable.

So, what will be the outcomes of these many issues? Hard to know exactly.

What is more certain is human nature. If you beat someone over the head with an issue long enough, they will submit or internally resist. Many of those that outwardly appear to appease or comply build resentment. When they can act invisibly (i.e. vote) you may not get the support you demand or expected.

And people do not like change.

As for the misery of the pandemic, it goes on. I hear (yet again) that the restrictions and impositions are political.   😉

I have been traveling: 3-4 weeks ago, to Northern California, locally around Santa Cruz and up to Alameda Counties and to North Dakota for 10 days over July 4th.

The travel itself tells a story. San Francisco, Denver airports are now far more deserted with few gates occupied and crowds only assimilating as boarding time approaches. Often there is nobody within 100yds as you proceed along vacant concourses towards your departure gate. Masks are required throughout the buildings and flights.

Passengers are shuffled aboard in controlled groups, then seated like masked mannequins inside the plane.

The only person I saw without a mask was a female Millennial strutting through Denver airport seemingly begging to be challenged and appearing loaded for bear. Nobody took the bait.

When I arrived in North Dakota there were a few greeters allowed behind security, and at the gate. This is unusual at any time. As travelers exited the companionways, they pulled off their masks, smiled, greeted any friends or relatives that had come and hurried off happily to Baggage Claim and Exits.

Time in North Dakota was filled with cheerful gatherings of relatives, meals out, fishing and spectacular firework displays celebrating July 4th. Social restrictions there are mostly limited to store workers wearing masks and cleaning trolleys for use by mostly unmasked customers. Nobody wears masks for indoor dining or walking outdoors.

Yet even there the media blitz wore on people. Many were tired and frustrated with confrontational news, national activities and political assertions.

Back in California the experience is quite mixed…

Local Santa Cruz County is more open. The last few weeks have seen visitors from Silicon Valley appear in slightly greater numbers. Restaurants have grabbed surrounding parking areas for seating, supplementing their restricted indoor space. Masks outdoors are uncommon.

The beaches are occupied; a little busier with mostly local people physically distanced and grateful to again be near the ocean. Outlawed fireworks were extensive along the beaches on July 4th; unprecedented and numerous displays, carefully policed from a distance I am told.

Shasta County up in Northern California was really opened-up when I visited 3-4 weeks ago for a few days fly fishing. The previous month I was also there and found depressed, take-out only activity in Mount Shasta town. But now the Hotels are booked and largely unmasked indoor dining has opened-up to smiling visitors escaping the Bay Area and points south.

A few local Shasta residents seem like they preferred the absence of travelers as the Summer wore on; shopkeepers, hoteliers and restauranteurs obviously feel very differently about their survival.

This weekend I was again back in Alameda County, CA. They always had more pandemic restrictions than where I live in Santa Cruz; even walkers and bike-riders wear masks outdoors. It seems their very recent opening (from about 2 weeks prior) for outdoor-only dining has been rescinded.

Last Friday CA State rolled-back restaurant outdoor eating in Alameda; they have returned to Take-Out only and continue their masks-everywhere culture. Foot traffic is diminished and the temporary sense of freedom has vanished with the reimposed restriction.

Everywhere I go it is obvious that public Happiness during this pandemic is inversely proportional to Control, Restrictions and the Weight of News.

In each location to which I travel I currently follow local conventions for social distancing, masking and dining. There’s little motivation to rock the boat when there are so many easily triggered and inherently upset individuals wandering around.

There are areas in San Francisco where extremely loud M-80 firework explosions are prevalent; these typically begin late afternoon and run till 3.00- 4.00am in the morning. The idea is to expose residents to the distress suffered by people who live in districts where gunfire occurs. These big bangs started a few weeks before July 4th and continue in many locations.

Residents can get no police attention to the matter. They say Police are unwilling or afraid to address the issue and face the possibly resulting consequences. Certainly, any veterans living in the area are likely suffering from the shock of the explosions.

I stayed a couple of nights in Alameda this last weekend. I believe the similar sporadic loud explosions (with no associated firework display) I could hear over the estuary in Oakland signal the same program is being deployed over a larger area, into the northern East Bay.

Its likely out-of-State firework sources will dry up shortly as July 4th supplies are eventually spent. Time will tell how committed and resourceful the protagonists remain.

Relatives in England are slowly emerging from quite severe pandemic restrictions. Where population density is high and public transportation is common (such as the UK), higher Coronavirus infections and death rates typically follow. Aging populations and underlying health complications make things that much worse.

I know too many people there that have been isolated (alone) in their sheltering, unable to visit with others and heavily restricted in their daily outdoor movements. Yet even as things ease, rules and conditions abound surrounding each newly re-instituted freedom. Only recently can even relatives visit one another and stay overnight.

Other parts of the world are newly falling into the abyss of COVID-19 infection. Numbers (as accurately as they are counted and reported) are spiraling in Brazil, South America, India and Russia with talk of a Second Pandemic Wave continuing ever-present.

And where I reside, I am perhaps particularly fortunate. People are outside and active. There are more happy faces than aggrieved; most seem to overcome the stress they unwittingly communicate and clearly feel.

We each must rise above the external influences that befall us; what other choice is there?  And it appears to be a challenge that many must embrace.

Do you have a plan to lighten your load? Is there a way you can find to ease the burden placed upon your back? Are you and your loved ones finding systematic ways to overcome the stress of this pandemic era and all that has accompanied?

Best to give it some thought; actively making your outlook a little brighter is an essential element in maintaining good health in trying times.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.









Coronavirus: The On-going CA Shutdown Saga / Santa Cruz County

Things hereabouts have slowly begun to open but restrictions predominate outdoor life.

I was just turned away from my local Best Buy and their cavernous store which still does not permit customer entry, only a curbside pick-up service. There is no re-opening date on the horizon. I wonder about its utilization and future.

There are masks required for entry into every store or service facility. The local Lucky’s announces mask requirements for workers and customers over loudspeakers every few minutes as the solemn parade of clients with trolleys winds around then stalls into lines of marked-off check-out positions.

Some stores still enforce outdoor queuing to control and limit the number of customers allowed inside.

People speak less in stores. When their passage is blocked, they stand with eyes downcast till the obstructer nods and clears their way with mumbled apologies. There are occasional attempts at humor; seemingly fewer than before.

Local beaches are restricted some days and other times enforcement begins to slide. Officially there is no entry to beaches between 11.00 am and 5.00pm unless you are moving or headed into the water; our local curfew. Most days these postings are honored and occasionally monitored by stationed police; sometimes larger numbers of people just enter the beach in small, disaggregated groups and set up camps that nobody seems to question any more.

The surfers are still here and in increasing Summer numbers. World-class surfing, great waves and on-street parking. The Sheriff only occasionally checks for non-local participants.

The paid parking facilities are generally open in the local Capitola Village and Santa Cruz harbor. Other (free) public parking remains mostly cordoned off or has spacers inserted to ensure vehicles have greater separation.

Public restrooms have been opened in the last few weeks, though some are locked by 7.00pm or simply remain cordoned-off and shuttered together with their associated parking areas.

Two weeks ago (after desperate verbal pleas to council members), local Capitola Village restauranteurs had outdoor eating approved. As a result, many of the already sparse parking spots are temporarily re-assigned to provide additional (distanced, outdoor) seating to support the desperate restaurants.

Almost 70% of the surrounding Capitola shops had their doors open for business within 24 hours of permission being granted. One large waterfront restaurant had already permanently closed its doors by then: too little, too late. This served the warning to counselors.

The past week saw other local area restaurants open with managed and limited indoor seating; their outdoor seating is approved, too.  A big relief for failing restauranteurs.

Last weekend saw a small influx of fleeing Silicon Valley residents joining locals venturing into opened facilities around the Santa Cruz area. They occupied the beaches, ignoring the curfew and yellow police tapes covering the seawalls.

Starbucks customers still dutifully stand on marked spots to retrieve their orders then scatter like hunted masked bandits back to their vehicles to picnic or depart. We can now enter and order rather than just line up outside for mobile-app pickups. Indoor seating remains stacked and pushed-aside like cordwood, but at least the free Wi-Fi usually reaches the parking lots.

Most people sport fancy custom masks that pull their ears into Shrek-like forms. Face coverings have become a personal statement.

Getting a haircut has just been authorized, but only by appointment. Police stop by and monitor masking and distancing behaviors in the small salons and shops.

I hear that Workout and Physical Therapy facilities are soon to acquire restricted access.

The local Hospital pandemic preparedness facilities hereabouts were dismantled weeks ago; they had gone from low to essentially no utilization.

Several folks have mentioned they were pushed away from regular medical facilities in prior weeks and so resorted to DIY medical treatments or calls with Doctors they found available to address their concerns.

People from more populace areas visiting other parts of the State are often shocked by the absence of masks being worn outdoors, the more casual demeanor of locals and the occasional complete lack of mask usage in small stores.

Then there are the TYPES of people you encounter in these times. Generally, it is those who

  • Obediently follow the rules
  • Comply where they must but clearly have no committed interest (for whatever their reason)
  • Fearfully flee situations and people who are out of compliance
  • Openly (and sometimes vocally) defy social pandemic rules
  • Inflict their demands for compliance upon others

And this last group causes me to provide a little data to look more closely at the California situation.

Yesterday I was copied on a Facebook rant that aggressively attacked all those who do not religiously conform to current Pandemic Protocols.

I have known the author (a self-described, Progressive) for years and am copied on daily thoughts via a Link which seems hard to break without losing other access I enjoy. But this missive caused me to look at the claims and underlying realities of what is still occurring in California. So, let the data tell the story…

AS BACKGROUND: The basic assertion is that people need to realize that >4,600 deaths tied to the pandemic have now occurred in California and that anyone claiming their rights are being violated and refusing to comply with social restrictions on masking and spacing is totally out of line. These people are socially irresponsible and should be justifiably vilified and publicly excoriated. Tough words.

For myself, I am easily able to be somewhat neutral in my behavior. I respectfully wear a mask when expected and maintain social distancing. As I have no workplace to visit or business to protect, my current lifestyle of writing, outdoor pursuits and binge-watching Crime Mystery and Astronomy series in a (now) quieter and scenic life-style community remains relatively unaffected; even though shopping and restaurant constraints are inconvenient.

HOWEVER, I am becoming concerned that things in California may have been knowingly carried too far for the majority, given the factual data that exist and that serious damage has already been needlessly caused to working citizens trying to support themselves and families.

I should explain.

Let me begin by saying any single life lost to this Pandemic is a needless tragedy. It brings misery to all involved. Enough said.

Yet people die every day. They expire because of age, sickness and commonly circulating diseases and contagions. Everyone will die and many will pass earlier than ultimately necessary.

There are many causes of death we have blindly come to consider as normal. Medical progress has all but eliminated some, but many, many more persist and have largely become accepted (i.e. cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. etc.)

Influenza is systemic in most cultures. It kills people worldwide on a seasonal basis even though we have a moderate level of prevention through vaccines and known protocols for care of the afflicted. Folks still dying from influenza or its complications is culturally accepted and an unspoken norm.

Over the last nine years in the USA an average of 37.5 K deaths/year have resulted from the flu. Flu seasons have ranged from 12 K-61 K deaths/year in this timeframe and the total current national population is 330 million.

This means that California’s share of fatalities is around 4.5 K deaths/year for their 40 million population; the AVERAGE number of deaths Californians might expect in a single flu season.

There have been ~4.7 K Covid-19 deaths in CA to-date. Fortunately, overall growth-rate in this number is currently declining quickly.

Most Covid-19 deaths have been in just 3 (LA, San Diego and Riverside) of the 58 CA Counties. If we separate out the 3.4 K actual deaths in these 3 Counties, it remains that 1.3 K fatalities occurred in the other 55 Counties, populated by about 25 Million Californians.

The 3 populous (LA, San Diego and Riverside) Counties have experienced a death rate almost DOUBLE an AVERAGE flu season, while the other 55 Counties combined are at a level less than HALF an AVERAGE flu season. And fortunately, because of the pandemic precautions there has not been much influenza around this season.

The mitigation precautions CA took with extremely early closure most likely contributed to these generally overall favorable (if there can be such a thing) results.

The patterns for likely probable Infection and Death Rates and the numbers expected as ultimate outcomes, were well defined and already visible by the end of March. Basically, we knew a while ago where we were headed from BOTH our own numbers and insights shared by numerous other regions and countries.

But California is still currently heavily closed down. People are NOT all back in work and we are slow-marching a recovery.

If we are passed the worst and we would not normally close the economy for an AVERAGE flu season, then why have we proceeded some 10 weeks beyond a seemingly obvious opportunity to re-engage the economy?

Who would think this is justified and why would they persist? Why would they not expect to be challenged?

The average person is not an epidemiologist, but most can interpret simple data and facts. Trends and graphs are easy to read and should not be unnecessarily complicated by handwaving that tries to invalidate or obscure obvious conclusions.

So why do so many people just do what they are told, standing in lines wearing masks and perched upon the designated red spots? Being a good citizen is one thing but following blindly is another. We have certainly passed the point where blind adherence is appropriate.

It would appear MANY of the 55 Counties (mentioned above) should NEVER have been closed. Especially if they are remote, lightly populated or saw very low infection rates. The State umbrellaed everyone and treated everything with the same broad brush. It was apparent LONG ago this was unnecessary, yet the restrictions largely remain universally and uniformly imposed (CA) Statewide.

A couple of remote Northern CA Counties and towns removed oppressive restrictions and fully opened-up, early. They simply stated their citizens needed to make a living and the constraints were inappropriate. Data indicates their position is far from unique.

I have seen first-hand the havoc wreaked upon smaller communities in the Northern parts of the State. Hotels have little trade; restaurants were closed long-term or only offer take-out. For many the Summer season is likely already irretrievable.

And hereabouts many businesses have already or will soon fail.

People will not universally flock back to normal past behaviors when things are fully re-opened. Most people seem cowed and nervous about personal re-engagement.

There will be generalized business recovery as folks return to more industrial (white and blue collar), larger-company jobs. It is essential people return to work and retain their jobs, provide food and pay bills.

But Service Industries and Small Businesses will be particularly vulnerable to lost revenues driven by the general population’s decline in savings, disposable income and sticky health concerns. Their corporate customers will be tightening their belts in recovery, too.

Also, Social Changes will persist.

Doctor visits will continue to be made reluctantly at first.

We know reports of child abuse have already cratered suspiciously during pandemic precautions.

And even AA meetings remain currently outlawed while Rehab facilities around the nation are already heavily booked. This cannot possibly end well.

Perhaps six months from now most people will have returned to their old habits. But until then many small businesses will struggle to establish essential working and survivable revenue levels. Many will continue to fail; their continuing to remain unnecessarily restrained and controlled NOW will only exacerbate the harm.

So much for the update and look at California State practices and decisions. The West Coast is always a little different.

Today I read a credible article from Texas talking of increased infection rates following their very early May 2020 re-opening; the hope is that this current spiking resulted from people quickly becoming too casual with their social distancing practices following early successes. Time will tell.

Have you checked the numbers in your neighborhood? Do the local restrictions match what you see in the data?

It is worth taking a few minutes to understand these numbers and the resulting decisions being made on your behalf.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.



MID 2020 In COVID-19 Land, USA

 In my last posting I wrote of being coughed upon by a shopper in a local store; I developed no subsequent symptoms that could not be attributed to a rough allergy season. Lucky me!  😊

Some Countries, States and Counties are re-opening to less restrictive pandemic-related conditions. All associated news is fueled by either strongly approving or condemning opinion. Emotion rules selectively presented facts; contradictory critical details and insights are typically discarded without presentation.

It seems that large City dwellers want much delayed re-openings and those more scantily infected (and usually less populated) regions plead for (or take) the most rapid route to normality that’s possible.

A few, high-profile Bay Area (and San Francisco) companies are making moves toward fully remote on-line operations deep into 2020. Results from early re-openings and their own empirical findings will likely influence these intentions.

News Agencies continue to push the agenda of their owners, investors and financial partners; nothing new here since politicized graffiti was first regularly scratched on stone walls.

The endless stream of News hyperbole has numbed those who continue to watch and read.

It’s reasonable to hope that a viable vaccine may be developed before mid-2021; given the history of success in this area it is not at all inevitable and still cannot be assumed by those needing to carefully consider their personal plans.

Regardless, its best we all make our own personal determination of how we will in future follow COVID-19 health and social guidelines. Each of us has our unique age, current health and prior illnesses to consider along with those with whom we desire (or, have) regular contact.

If you are not working, days quickly become repetitive. Even the easiest circumstances with idyllic surrounds become tedious and monotonous unless you actively insert new schemes, experiences and interests in your day. Artificial constraints can make a prison of the best situations.

Most people in Western Countries struck by the virus are far less comfortable than I suggest above. And underdeveloped continents fare far worse; peoples savings deplete, money evaporates and basics of sustaining housing, shelter, transport and food become troubling or impossible. With this comes stress, anxiety, depression, desperation and conflict.

Most pandemic victims do not have their burdens effectively eased or shared in any way.

Poorer countries offer people much less or nothing in practical support and often additionally demand a shelter-in-place compliance that burdens their populations unbearably.

There are few places on the planet that escaped the Coronavirus. Even if you fled early most desirable locations eventually suffered similar, burdensome restrictions.

Where many fled disease followed, perhaps often accompanying the traveler.

Where I live in Santa Cruz (CA, USA) the pandemic has had mild consequences; less than Southern (CA) or Bay Area Counties. Regardless, we are all umbrellaed with burdensome restrictions deployed for surrounding communities.

Visitors are not wanted here; parking lots are taped-off, beach access controlled and public bathrooms selectively closed. Sheriffs persistently check beachgoers residency.

It is amazing how quickly interlopers are driven off when toilet doors are locked. And it’s an odd new norm having residents complain about people visibly urinating alongside closed public restrooms.

Yet the surfers still come. Pleasure Point and Steamers are busy; world famous and still open, but basically only to locals (with Driver’s License checks often being made as surfers exit the beaches).

A few local restaurants and bars are still open in Capitola Village and provide take-out. The operators seem stressed and wary of visible policing and changing rules while customers appear increasingly frustrated and annoyed.

Last weekend I made a daytrip up North, just passed Placerville (3.5 hrs. drive away), for some fly fishing. This is also a particularly low-infection County. Essential merchants (gas stations, take-out food, grocery stores, etc.) remain open but they have little interest insisting customers sport mandatory masks as is monitored further South and required throughout the entire State.

Fishing was predictably poor with big early-season run-off disturbing flow on the American River. Bites were scarce, people very distanced, but the sense of freedom was enormous. I doubt the words Coronavirus, COVID-19 or Pandemic passed through my mind a single time; release was palpable.

A few days earlier, I ran my sailboat out of Alameda. Other than a distanced, masked conversation with the Dock Manager I never passed within 40’ of the only other person on the docks.

Spent several hours on the water, one of which was between the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, below Alcatraz Island; never saw a single vessel of any type in that arena. I will probably never repeat this first.

Following sailing, purchased food at a local bar offering take-out. They let me wait and have drinks while the meal was prepared. No masks were involved. Apparently, local police stay away accepting (I was told) that people must make a living.

Days at home in Santa Cruz feature bike rides or walks for most of the population. The latest beach restrictions outlaw stationary beach setups between 11.00am and 5.00pm. I do not currently go on the beach, but these rules seem unnecessarily punitive hereabouts as beachgoers seem to attend in small groups, typically spaced very much more than 15 yards apart.

Every 5 or 6 days I am Mr. Shopping for our household. Local grocery stores are not too crowded and only occasionally depleted of essentials.

Checkouts have splatter guards since late April and everyone around Santa Cruz is now masking-up per latest CA requirements. For shopping I use a mask, disposable gloves and wipes. Purchases still get wiped off at home.

Continued (and sometimes increasing) restrictions are being received as burdensome. If you are NOT AT RISK, I can readily empathize with your growing frustrations.

And when formal restrictions finally ease even those least at risk must choose WHEN they can comfortably (say) allow a stranger close enough to cut their hair, stop using masks for shopping, reduce incessant hand-washing and discontinue wipe-downs of touched items.

Sadly, the AT RISK population will likely carry Pandemic Restrictions and associated baggage far greater than another year.

And, the current understanding of the imperfect, long-term protection afforded by antibodies in those recovered from COVID-19 is another disappointment in outlook.

Nevertheless, I wish you good fortune in mapping your personal route through the pandemic. I hope you find a convenient path that respects government-imposed social restrictions and more importantly supports your needs, health, financial and relationship responsibilities.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.




My Coronavirus Diary: When The Infection Hits Your Home

Since my last posting the Virus has moved through our house. Three residents, one case and now we return from OUR in-house quarantine to the regular shelter-In-Place restrictions.

We were lucky. Problems centered around high, rising fever, a dry cough, modest breathing discomfort below the sternum, general tiredness and weakening during the first six (6) days of symptoms.

The two-week sickness necessitated personal space and separate bathroom restrictions for the three of us with lots of changes in cooking, shopping, movement, laundry, monitoring and cleaning arrangements. There was constant hand-washing and endless wipe-downs of, well, everything. 

Our Doctor was working 17 hr. days and called us later the first evening… after we had basic temperature controls underway. I got inputs on how to achieve this earlier by standing in front of local Hospital ER and speaking to helpers outside the front door. Nobody wants less than critically ill people inside there, either spreading or getting infections.

Turns out a cocktail of Tylenol and Ibuprofen dropped the (102 deg.) fever to under 99.5 in about 4 hrs. Our Doctor confirmed the probable Coronavirus diagnosis by phone; there were zero tests then and being without real distress we pursued our self-help regimen.

The real concern was to first monitor that temperature remained down, stable and the there was no escalation of breathing problems; these can occur quickly, so 24/7 observation was essential.

After a week, things were clearly going in the right direction with appetite, strength and breathing returning to normal several days before the two weeks of restrictions were complete.

Only one in-house case so far and a good outcome. One infection and three people; we were lucky, THIS time.

I since related this story by phone to an insurance agent helping with an auto-renewal. She said she came from a third-world country, sadly noting similarities in her current experiences, my story and her past.

Now our life is returned to the new norm. Today our shopping excursion finally got us routinely inaccessible eggs, toilet paper and paper towels. Re-supplying hand sanitizer and sterilized wipes remains a dream.

The numbing news drags on endlessly and lockdown arrangements are extended until the end of April.

It seems there are numerous missteps that will define local and national contamination outcomes. Many States chose not to order pandemic supplies despite the virulent 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu’ (61 Million US infections and 12.5k deaths) and recent 1980’s (HIV), 2003 (SARS) and 2013 (MERS) experiences. Basic re-ordering was actively ignored at all government levels; tax revenues were often capriciously diverted to more interesting investments and projects.

It seems the New Orleans Mardi-Gras celebrations have backfired into infections and fleeing residents of plagued States (like NY) have quickly dispersed themselves across the nation, frustrating and I’m sure inevitably in some cases, contaminating others. Many Governors are trying to reject these incursions and inter-State infighting is underway; this will continue and worsen before it calms.

St. Patrick’s Day came a little later. Several regions were already locked down so many associated gatherings were cancelled, but by no means all.

A quick glance backwards tells me that annual flu seasons typically inflict about 35K deaths and 25 Million cases of infection annually. Hopefully the dramatic National and Regional restrictions and support underway will keep this virus to similar or hopefully much-improved levels. The current, very recently advertised (100K!) outlook for potential deaths is both troubling and surprising.

There are diverging opinions evolving about China’s role in this latest Coronavirus episode. Oddly, one side sees a responsible friend, very capable and well-intentioned; the other suspiciously eyes a regionally expanding Machiavellian villain.  Take your pick.

Local outdoor activity here (in Santa Cruz, CA) remains high. Cyclists and walkers are increasing in numbers. The surfers are allowed across Pleasure Point and congregate in regularly strong numbers.

A couple of beaches are closed with make-shift notices that dangle and flutter in the breeze and occasional drive-byes of police with bullhorns. The beach closure off 26th Avenue was because of a shark-bite to a paddle-board which had strayed into known shark territory beyond the kelp that stretches 100’s of yards off-shore.

Shopping can be an alarming experience. Some larger stores are strictly controlling access by setting restrictions on numbers of shoppers admitted simultaneously and are allotting timeslots for older (and so, at-risk) residents.

There seems to be a universal lack of understanding about what constitutes a medically safe shopping environment. Shopping Cart handles are not cleaned, and self-applied cleaning wipes have often run out. Cashiers handle all the goods wearing plastic gloves they seemingly use all-day, or bare hands. Cash and Credit Cards often pass back and forwards between shoppers and cashiers at checkout. All goods are hand-placed on shelves by a large, diverse group of workers.

Distancing in stores is mixed. It’s not unusual for collisions to occur, yet often people turn away and shun each other as the space between them closes. The learning has begun for some.

The Phase 3, $2 Trillion (+$4 Trillion) funding is passed; there should be shame in how that proceeded, but I doubt there is. The squabbling about distribution and oversight has now begun.

I have spoken with several local businessmen (mostly restauranteurs) about this relief package. NONE believe they will see a penny to benefit them; a common explanation is that there will be too many hoops to jump through to receive any help. Their low expectations paint a troubling picture and their staffs are already long gone.

I live in a world where this viral tragedy is a political weapon. Regardless your politics it should not escape anyone that a safe, effective and minimized health and economic outcome favors one side and a rather more disastrous and tragic outcome benefits the other. And the pig-in-the-middle that can do naught yet but suffer likely consequences, are the citizens and companies that fund these warring factions.

News channels sickeningly align themselves with the sides. One side broadcasts more happily than the other; some seek, want and need gloom, conflict and derision. Viewers are simply battered and flung about by the results.

It’s sadly naïve to expect there be no sides. One can only Hope.

I recently had to drive up North (+60 miles) and check on a boat docked in Alameda. Travelling through the heart of Silicon Valley the traffic was light both ways. I passed near nobody outside of a vehicle; docks were devoid of human traffic and only one or two live-aboard couples were out for walks.

Upon my return there were unusual numbers of Highway Patrol cars parked off-road as light traffic passed by, typically moving 15 mph above an abandoned speed limit. One car was pulled over; he must have been driving very fast, indeed.

Gas prices have tanked across the nation as the Russians and Saudi’s war on. Strategic reserves are being loaded up. I heard of <$1.00/ gallon pricing somewhere in the Mid-West; my local California outlets mostly remain with even the best pricing in the $3.20 range… the tax burden here hangs on.

And what I miss is a Starbucks coffee. I want to get a beer at a local bar. I want to sit in my favorite restaurant. Turns out the (now) take-out food from my local isn’t what I miss, it’s the people, ambiance and belonging.

A couple of days ago I got coughed into by a shopper at a local market; fortunately, I blocked all her splatter from others in the store. There were no apologies, the person then moved up close behind and started poking me in the back, talking into my neck. She wanted to regain her abandoned place in line. I let her pass and kept my distance, as did others.

She then stood bended over the large counter festooned with goods as she inspected them at close-range, while coughing repeatedly. Never once did her arm or hand manage to reach or cover her mouth. She had a dry cough. The server seemed unperturbed. I saw her emerge from the store a few minutes later; her brow appeared fevered, perhaps she was just stressed? I hope so.

These events make all my precautions and care seem meaningless. Nevertheless, I will continue my practices and hope. It will take me three more days to see if any classic fever and breathing symptoms develop from THIS event.

I related this story an hour after it occurred to someone met while I was resting on my bike ride. The person backed away an extra step early in the tale and yet another before I’d finished. Not sure if she even knew she’d drifted some 15’ away by the time the story ended.

So much for the observations and experiences. On the happiest note of all there’s still three of us in this house and we’re all currently safe and healthy!

So far, so good. It’s again time for a daily bike ride. Need to take care that if the coughing lady doesn’t get me, I continue to dodge other bullets that will inevitably come my way.

Good luck to you in your endeavors and outdoor excursions. Stay safe and Socially Distanced, using whichever recommended distancing you choose.



Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.





My On-Going Coronavirus Diary

I live in a Global Pandemic.

A perceived lack of control permeates my life and a wave of overreaction washes across everything.

The latest News brings updates, mostly of the Virus’ spread.

It’s yet too early for even minor promotions of Hope and Promise to go unmolested.

Today, a little more ground was again lost to the Pandemic’s hold.

There is an overarching sense of loss and helplessness in the community. People wait.

And actual instances of the virus hereabouts number but a single case; this carried in by a now self-quarantined cruise ship traveler.

A SINGLE local case and all THIS.

I live in Santa Cruz, California; upon the coast known elsewhere since the 1820’s for its perceived flakiness and more recently, Liberalism.

Life around here has changed.

By 5.00pm the usually increased rush-hour traffic down 41st street is less. There are fewer people around.

The high-speed frantic commutes to Silicon Valley are diminished. Companies are stressing working from home.

When I venture out in the evening, restaurant traffic is light and quiet. The onset of bustling activity fueled by freshening Spring weather has stalled. Parking is available and convenient.

Hereabouts, waiter service is quick and readily accessible. Servers are keen to chat about their slowed business and its sudden decline though last weekend and now more so each passing day.

Last Saturday I ran by Ferry from Alameda across the Bay into San Francisco. Visible human activity is massively diminished.

The streets there are open, barely sprinkled with pedestrians. Ghirardelli Square seems unpopulated. Cable cars leave the Terminus half-filled yet bathed in sunlight. The eternal lines and waits for trolleys are gone.

The temporary Saturday market at the Ferry Building was unusually quiet; it packed-up and disappeared without trace well before 4.00pm.

A State of Emergency was declared by a somber San Francisco Mayor a couple of weeks ago. An Emergency without a single incident of the virus on record.

Declarations of Emergency quickly earmarks available funds for those who raise their hands early. It’s hard to know the difference between selfish grabs and wise proaction. We can only hope for the best as there will be typically poor oversight of follow-on spending.

Hyper-vigilantism to Pandemic risks is the norm. OVERreaction is generally SAFE to promote, as only UNDERreaction is historically retroactively scrutinized or Proven Wrong.

Immediately the virus was announced in Wuhan, it’s prospects for Global spread seemed clear.

Withing days, maps of China lit up recording new cases blossoming within and throughout her borders. Containment immediately seemed an improbable dream.

Concurrently, disconnected contamination cases sprouted in Europe, epitomizing uncontrolled spread.

International (Six Nations Rugby) sporting events were soon and suddenly postponed in Italy and France. Gatherings of 5000+ people were then outlawed in France.

Italy appeared to head the list of Virus activity. Soon France shut down all gatherings, Germany had reported problems and borders with reportedly highly infected Iran were being closed.

South Korea soon emerged with proactive and accelerated mass testing. Their readiness likely stems from recent post-pandemic experiences and fears of their immediate neighbors’ incompetence.

Just a couple of weeks ago I made a personal journey back East to Delaware. It seemed reasonable to get in a trip before things broke loose on domestic travel restrictions; timing proved about right.

After being gone just six days my return flight through Denver was enlightening. Bathrooms had rows of sinks filled with soap bubbles and residue with used paper towels piling up in corners.

Usually, many male travelers don’t ever wash their hands during bathroom visits. Not so much now.

The original journey out East from San Jose was enlightening, too. Blue-gloved TSA Security agents handled hundreds of Drivers Licenses as they checked ID’s; endless touching, 100’s of plastic cards.

From the outset of this pandemic what I seem to notice each day is the complete absence of viable transmission suppression protocol. Opportunity to contaminate and spread germs abounds.

However, there is still only ONE confirmed Coronavirus case in the district I reside. Perhaps necessity will clean up behavior as the virus spreads?

In fairness, most people have never been exposed to rigorous protocols and medically clean processing.

We rely on simple, repeated hand washing and checking spray from coughs. Minor measures are all we typically support.

Fortunately, even these basic steps are reportedly adequate, THIS time.

Highly communicable airborne pathogens require MUCH more care. How will we fare when future Pandemics require such levels of diligence and know-how?

Each day brings news from fighting political factions and blame. There are SIDES taken; each believes and continuously implies only THEIR folks knows what to do and how to save the people. Politicization is the game, Nationally and Globally.

Government figures routinely take the stage and make their plays.

Yesterday brought on more major sporting event closures and delays. Independent countries are isolating from others who might worsen their pathogen flow.

A new strategy is to Delay the Peak of the outbreak nationally; to skew the (hopefully diminished) heart of the crisis to Summer months when medical services are better prepared and less seasonally stressed.

Where I live there is testing newly on-line to check only suspected carriers. Without speedy, broad-based testing yet readily available the exact extent of Community contamination remains fundamentally unknown.

My two most local Hospital Emergency Rooms have tent facilities set up outside. The idea is to test people there and not allow uncontrolled building entry.

Guards stationed at the door ask every visitor if they have basic symptoms such as elevated Temperature, Coughing or Breathing Difficulty before permitting entry. Those offering affirmations are sent to the tent(s).

It now seems the death rates for this Pandemic should hold below seasonal ‘flu’s, but it’s spread may prove more prolific. At risk are currently expected only those with compromised immune systems, especially older people.

Still, there is only one local (self-quarantined) virus carrier testing positive.

And each day my neighborhood seems just a little quieter, except for apparently undiminished numbers of surfers at Pleasure Point.

Over the weekend in San Francisco a Fisherman’s Walk waiter told me his bus journey through China Town was uncharacteristically deserted.

Chinese restaurants are experiencing slowdowns. I’m guessing more than other businesses.

Last weekend the large, thriving Alameda Chinese waterfront restaurant I pass regularly showed clear signs of depleted activity.

During recent weeks the transportation industry has been preparing for what has now occurred.

Flights are cancelled, others lightly loaded. Deals for future fares and cleanliness assurances abound.

Countries continue to disconnect from one another; protected borders potentially bring a level of control to mitigate internal infection rates.

People still travel to work. Public transportations promote their hygiene and cleaning practices.

Most folks know that even perfect cleanliness is compromised as the first passenger steps aboard.

Past Pandemics have progressed in phases. First, perceived slowdowns in new cases, success of treatment(s) and quarantines, then survivors return to business as usual.

But setbacks occur. There can be flare-ups in numbers of new cases; sometimes the next wave is more overwhelming than the first.

The 2009 H1N1 flu Pandemic hit the US hard. There were over 60 million cases and 12,500 deaths on the heels of the 2008 financial collapse. Yet this disaster passed almost invisibly with minimal media coverage.

As I write there are presumed 1,500 Coronavirus cases and 40 deaths, Domestically (US). And this is fronted by the frenzied face of global, media-driven panic.

Sadly, The Reality and Importance of Events is defined by deliberately Promoted Agendas. It has always been the case.

Today there is no national News of decline in new Coronavirus cases. There is no palpable, immediate hope or promise. Perhaps tomorrow?

Still, there IS extensive on-line guidance about protecting oneself during the Pandemic. Use this info and help/ guide those in need of sensible instruction.

It certainly seems the worst is yet to come.

Yet many people are already suffering indirect consequences of this Coronavirus. It weighs on us. It can sap joy from our lives.

Hopefully these are the ONLY consequences and inconveniences we experience.

It’s wise to hold on to optimism during this Pandemic. There WILL be an eventual decline in sickness incidents. The Emergency WILL ultimately end. This too shall pass.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.


Think YOU Know What’s Right & Wrong?

 At least one time every day I check on the News, perusing Local, National and Global events.

My personal approach these days is to scan both ends of the media spectrum to try and decipher the reality of any significant situation. It’s often the best methodology to pursue nowadays.

This system is typical; excepting for those whose time, affiliations and/or curiosity cause them to visit only one pole of available coverage.

And, in the process I am amazed daily by news of behavior exhibited by one faction(/person) or another.

There is always some act, crime or deed been perpetrated which makes me wonder, “Why would they do that?”

I doubt my feelings are unusual, but rather quite common.

It makes you question if people “Know Right from Wrong.” And upon reflection, I doubt they do. Let me explain…

There is little formal training in most cultures that comprehensively delineates RIGHT from WRONG Actions, Thought and Behavior.

Yes, there are LAWS. These may be laid down by Civil (or Military) authorities and Religious Institutions.

Also, there are Expectations, Common Sense and Social Pressures in-play.

Parents and Teachers typically provide their influences.

But there are few, systematically organized, comprehensive Codified Listings from which we can readily learn. Rather, we sit before a smorgasbord of exposures. This arrangement facilitates individual perspectives being formed.

Our complex sense of RIGHT and WRONG is built and formed by our cultures, written Laws and conventional expectations; unspoken pressure for conformity is enormous.

Religion-based missives paint pictures of guiding principles to embrace and fast rules we should honor.

Written Laws enumerate numerous circumstances we may encounter.

And still all this combined can in no way encompass and specifically list everything that is RIGHT or WRONG.

We rely on Common Sense to fill in the gaps. As is often mentioned, such sense can be far from common.

Additionally, people operate primarily principled by what suits their purpose; they act in their own interests. In such instances thoughts of what is Moral, Correct, Right or Wrong can often immediately fly out the window.

So, disconcertingly, our OWN opinion of what constitutes RIGHT or WRONG is far from universal.  For example…

In most Western Cultures killing is typically considered Wrong. Yet Vendettas, Honor Killings and Dispatching (commonly held) Enemies is acceptable; indeed, it is considered Right and even necessary.

That’s’ a massive disparity in perspective and between Cultural Rules.

And it continues. One Culture demands Monogamy, another Polygamy.

Other groups demand adherence to one religion and sometimes the destruction of all competing ideologies and religions. Opposing views are generally considered WRONG and often dangerous.

One reporter portrays an event in a particular way and a colleague from another publication might file an almost opposite spin.

In each of these different instances all parties believe they are in the RIGHT; additionally, they specifically believe the other side is also, WRONG. And, they might push their agenda.

Logically, in a world of absolutes (and ignoring Schrodinger’s Cat) these conflicting truths cannot co-exist.

In the end RIGHT and WRONG becomes a personal view.

Our individual versions of Right & Wrong are determined by our programming through…

  • DNA
  • Culture
  • Experiences
  • Exposure
  • Perspective
  • Position and,
  • Self-Interest(s)

So, aligning quarreling people within a single philosophy and an understanding of what is correct and appropriate is daunting if not often impossible.

To avoid tragedy, conflict and warring, humans need accept the fact that others often do NOT share the most basic common understanding of what is RIGHT or WRONG.

Securing such acceptance inevitably precedes any meaningful progress and collaboration between colliding groups, cultures and peoples.

And so too, the individual. If they do not in some way buy-into the prevailing standard (Right and Wrong) of the culture in which they exist, they are probably on a social collision course.

Religions frequently offer the greatest opportunity for conflict: If ONLY ONE is truly RIGHT are all others inherently WRONG and so damned? 

Analogously, supposedly objective individuals, wholly bound to specific political parties (in (say) a two-party situation) frequently find themselves absurdly tied to questionable arguments some “fifty percent of the time.” But still most hold the party line.

Both sides in every argument believe only they are RIGHT.

These vast dichotomies cause us to posit the question, “Is there ever a case of complete RIGHT or WRONG?” Is everything ultimately a truly grey area when fairly considered from all sides?

And unfortunately, when views become fixed and are re-enforced it is easy to manufacture and escalate conflict; inflexible people are easily manipulated.

Now look at the News. What we see can be truly alarming.

Consider the actions and behaviors of individuals, groups and people featured…

Don’t agree with what’s happening?

The protagonists aren’t always bad, mentally diseased people or sociopaths. Often, they just don’t share your view of what is RIGHT or WRONG. And they have their own agendas.

When you encounter things you don’t like, consider the perspective, position and nature of those involved. We may not like what we see, but the other side usually believes they have a valid point.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

We Are What We LEARN.

Our path in life is defined by the things we Learn. We become what we Learn.

This is affected by the subjects we choose and just as profoundly determined by those items we do not study or embrace.

We make Learning Choices to facilitate specific progress in the direction we wish to proceed.

And these CHOICES are made:

ACTIVELY…  by Positive Selection
BY DEFAULT… following the Path of Least Resistanceor made for us by circumstance
BY EXCLUSIONOpportunities Missed as a result of pursuing a singular specific target

Most ominous is Choice By Exclusion, for when one major course is followed then innumerable alternatives are passed over as the inherent consequence. This has a major impact on our lives as it defines how we will now not turn out.

Humans are conceived and born as somewhat specific, predefined entities; this by our DNA and reptilian brains with inbuilt reactions and instincts. Thereafter it’s up to us.

Initially, we are flooded during formative years by specific culture(s), exposures, events, surroundings and incidents. These progressively begin to shape us in the very earliest years.

We are taught specific skills and behaviors. We develop consequential attitudes, propensities and perspectives. Our Psyche is formed.

But what of the impact of selective learning? By CHOICE (see earlier) we pick things to learn; those we want and others we must.

And by this very process we miss out on countless possibilities…

I learn to be a Botanist, so my expertise as a Doctor of Medicine, Engineer, Chemist, Fisherman, Hunter, Environmentalist and so on, are less. We unfortunately often see ourselves with limited range and are consequentially easily accepting of a diminished scope…

We Learn how to Present and Maintain ourselves; selecting particular code(s) of behavior, attire, routine(s), eating habits and more.

And we develop and focus on typically singular Career and Lifestyle paths. Some individuals learn a little of other fields and alternatives. But these are usually minor excursions compared to our primary pursuits.

Most areas of expertise run deep; consequently, in-depth mastery of many realms is onerous at best.

So, we become largely defined by what we Learn through Free Choice, affected by internal desires and external influence.

A direction once selected is increasingly difficult to divest as time passes.

Often, we develop side-channels or hobbies from other paths to mitigate the frustrations of our linear progressions. We learn to fish, write, dabble in medicine or (say) immerse ourselves in current affairs, etc.

But most closely follow a singular path of set career, family, activities, behavior(s), associations and friends. They venture little and stray only slightly from well-defined and boundedpaths.

We become what we have Learned and Selected.

If our Choices are narrow, so are our lives.

Only when we invest in learning from elsewhere do we broaden to expanded experience(s).

All this is can be well and good providing we choose wisely and fittingly, early on.

But what if we chose poorly?

What if we can be much more and diverse?

What if we want to change and redirect?

Some do. People make career and lifestyle changes later in their lives. Often these choices work well and become fulfilling. The opportunity usually exists when an individual has the imagination, desire and will take the plunge.

Yet it’s better if we find our way early in life. Better delay at the outset and choose wisely than wrongly invest and pursue a less attractive course.

Our ability to make course corrections depends on self-image, skills, intellect, opportunity, passion, etc. Both the Psyche and circumstance will enable or hinder new ambitions.

Initial Learning Choices ideally need to be aligned with desirable (i.e. wanted by the individual) end results. The trick is to know oneself and target wisely. Not always an easy task.

And as we progress though life we should understand how and if we change and evolve and course-correct our learning and direction accordingly.

As for guiding children (and Others), things are predictablyaligned; giving them free reign to choose, providing exposure, opportunity, encouragement and suggesting diverse possibilities all empower them to select wisely.

Did you Learn what you needed for your chosen path through life?

Have you invested in Learning that keeps you on track?

What have you Learned (or, are Learning) that helps complete who you wish to become?

There is usually some way to get on track. You can Learn what you need, and course correct.

All that is necessary is for you to imagine and choose.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.


Anyone can Embrace Winning Ways

Ever noticed how some people just Win?

By this I mean Perform Outstandingly, Achieve Prominently or predictably Secure the Prize.

Their results are consistently good. They achieve relentlessly.

Winning happens in contests, at work, examinations, tests, conflict, battles, sporting events, finance, business etc., ALL aspects of Life.

It occurs in major and minor situations.

Being a winner isn’t entirely about Leadership or having traditionally associated characteristics, like possessing:

  • Vision
  • Charisma
  • Communication Talents, and so on (see HERE for more about True Leaders)

It also isn’t about just having Specific Skills (in Management) for mastering situations, such as:

  • Team Playing
  • Public Speaking
  • Time Management
  • Planning
  • Decision Analysis, and so on (see HERE for more about these Critical Skills)

This piece highlights COMMON ACTIONS Winners take that regularly bring them Success.

What they do consistently is:

  • Prepare
  • Attack
  • Recognize Danger

Let me explain…

By Preparing they ready themselves mentally and Physically for what is to come. They often pre-play what will occur and ENVISION (in detail) the outcome they desire. They study, make and follow essential Plans and stand prepared; always checking what the competition is doing.


When participating they Attack the goal and take the initiative. They don’t sit back to watch or play off their back foot. They go all-in, committed and as frantically essential to overcome obstacles. There remains controlled wisdom in their most forceful actions. Effort and focus are relentless and true Winners will not be easily intimidated.


But they also Recognize danger. They change and adapt before AND during competition; balance and thought is required in both physical and mental commitment. As critical moments emerge, they must be recognized and adaptation (if only temporary) should occur. Then back on the ATTACK as early as possible and sensible, to re-enforce or gain advantage(s).

These behaviors (Prepare, Attack, Recognize Danger) are Universal. They apply to ALL competitive situations.

You must Know, Manage and Adapt to the competition and competitors.

It doesn’t matter if you’re playing high level competitive sport, challenging for a promotion or betting on an office football pool. This approach ALWAYS APPLIES (whether its buried within your thoughts or displayed in your physical action(s)).

Some competitions are Physical and Intense, others equally formidable yet more Cerebral.

You can witness Winning Behavior all around you. It’s in top Athletes, Business scenarios, Political situations, Academia, Research and Development, etc. It is everywhere.

Anyone can embrace this Winning Approach.

If you don’t RECOGNIZE the importance of these factors you will not be one of the winners; certainly not consistently or without a (unpredictable and/or a rare) lucky break.

Those who perform and achieve outstandingly are not lucky, but prepared, recognizing and taking the appropriate actions required with the energy and commitment essential to securing their goal(s). They learn and practice the difficult things that might lay ahead as/if/when necessary and then prepare themselves to the extent required. Their successful results are noticeably consistent.

Got any major areas where you’d like to win?

Have even minor events coming up where you’d at LEAST like a great showing? Want to just do much better?

Then consider what it takes and how success might be secured: Prepare, Attack, Recognize Danger.

Try it and see. It works!


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

The Agony of Waiting

We are all waiting for something or someone.

There is always a wait in progress; either in queues or for notification, our turn, people, results, events and so on.

Waiting can be easy or difficult, sometimes very difficult. Often, we cannot readily control the experience.

And in some situations, we never ultimately achieve any finality; there is no closure.

This can be excruciating, a mental torture.

The difficulties we experience depend upon the nature of the wait, its:

Importance or Seriousness
Long-term Impact

Issues weighted heavily in these Three Criteria can be daunting.

Sometimes events are seemingly suspended over us like a sword of Damocles. The experience can be exhausting.

Some people seem more able to just suck it up, although most will inevitably just take on as much grief and frustration as they can bear.

And yet not all matters demand we adhere to some arbitrary schedule for resolution; we don’t always just have to wait. Issues can often be resolved more quickly than we initially realize.

It’s always wise to Question, Check and Ask. On some occasions we can push for those answers we really must have and deserve.

Waits can be a little easier if they are shared with others or if the outcome is relatively certain. But often this is not the case.

Most of us are not generally trained in the general art of waiting. There are many approaches; mostly revolving around self-distraction.

If the Wait is more painful, distraction must be more profound
It must also occupy you both physically and mentally

Some people cannot be that easily distracted; this depends upon their personality. A more intensely focused individual can find it almost impossible to be effectively distracted.

Others believe that the slightest lapse in their concentration bodes poorly for the desired outcome; they remain fixed within the process of waiting.

I am personally not good at waiting; never have been, though have learned to be somewhat better at finding relief through self-distraction.

Typically, Difficult Waits: Relationship Resolutions, Personal Job Decisions, Health Issues, Financial Matters etc. can all be tough when seemingly faced alone.

Less Difficult Waits are often shared events where others face similar outcomes: Exam Results, Transportation Problems, Broad Organizational changes etc. Sharing may mitigate the burden in many such cases.

Depending on the psyche of the individual involved sometimes even the simplest waiting events can be tough; especially when the Three Criteria (Importance / Urgency / Long-Term Impact) are heavily loaded and you feel alone.

The pain of someone suffering, waiting for news can often be eased by sharing; empathy alone can be a wonderful, palliative panacea.

Are you aware of someone else’s “waiting?” Ever reviewed how the Three Criteria are stacking up for them? How strong is their personal ability to muddle through this crisis?

Is there a way you can and should help ease their burden?

Perhaps you are grieving and struggling through your own waiting? Anything you should do to get some relief and ease the pain?

Sometimes simple / brief distractions are all that is required: Play games, Listen to music, Do simple chores, Run errands; anything to just pre-occupy and Stay Busy.

More profound distraction takes greater commitment to shake up the mindset: Visit new places, Engage in activities that demand attention and focus, Meet new people, Seek (safe) excitement, etc.

The key is to turn any PAINFUL Wait into the most PLEASANT DISTRACTION possible. And if at first you don’t succeed rethink, reset and try again with all the consideration you should afford.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.