I am having a hard time getting used to the way WordPress works now. It used to be that I could just open a new page and write and pull in pictures. Now it’s all these blocks and you have to do things with blocks. I think this was intended to make it easier for people who do a lot of tricky graphics, but it’s harder for me.

In the meantime, kids in our neighborhood are turning their front gardens into entertainment for other kids. This is because schools are closed and parents are working from home and at the same time, are trying to homeschool the kids. That means taking a lot of walks in the neighborhood.

For example, I used to be able to change the size of a photo or crop it, using tools. Now that has disappeared.

Now I have to think ahead about whether I’m going to write a paragraph or not. I can’t just write, and then go back and edit and break out paragraphs or run things together the way I want them. This is not good.

So this is all within walking distance of our house — a great neighborhood in which to shelter in place.

Now I’ll try to think about what is really going on beyond this neighborhood. We were not affected by the wildfires last fall, for example, other than the fact that the smoke poured down toward the Bay because of the way the wind blew, and covered the sky so that it was dark all day and smelled terrible. That lasted for several weeks. We haven’t had the earthquake that has been promised, although the Pleasanton quake last fall, that was 6.1 and woke me up at night, produced a crack in our uphill retaining wall and some doors that don’t shut well. So we’ve been lucky enough, so lucky that you can almost pretend that there is no problem.

However, all of the above are local. Like Katrina, they take place in a certain fraction of the world and you can avoid them, travel away from them, abandon them, forget about them. A pandemic is not like that. A pandemic is global. Maybe it’s the expression of global warming that is best-suited to getting the attention of human beings. Warming temperatures in the ocean get the attention of sea creatures, including global travellers like whales, but they only impact humans who live in coastal areas, or get hit by super-storms, or notice the price of fresh fish. These are all things you can walk away from. Dying forests get the attention of global travellers like migratory birds but only impact humans if you live where there are forest fires. The waves of extinction don’t bother anyone human because all we really notice is what happens to the price of animals that we raise for food. so it makes sense that it’s from a food market in China — a “wet market” where many types of animals are sold — that the virus is born.

What will our world look like when we come out of this?

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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