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D: None of the Above

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Like it or not, ready or not, we will be starting August at the end of this week. That means many students and faculty will be returning to college, for those schools that are welcoming students back to campus and for however long those young learners will be allowed to remain there.

So, what should be on the shopping list?

Well, for starters, the kids will need masks and abundant quantities of hand sanitizer. Sure, colleges are promising to have some of each scattered around the facilities students will have to take turns using, but, to the extent we can find and afford it, we should include these health care items on our packing list.

They’ll probably need their own thermometers, just so they can respond, at a moment’s notice, to the question of how they are feeling and whether they’ve had any fever. In fact, they should carry the thermometer to every class.

Of course, this often isn’t sufficient in the age of COVID-19, in large part because so many people, particularly those who are our children’s age, don’t have a fever even if they are carriers and potential super-spreaders of the virus.

They’ll also need plenty of cleaning supplies because they may prefer to clean their rooms and common spaces like bathrooms themselves or because schools may be reluctant to send other people into their suite or hallway bathrooms.

We might want to add a laminated card that includes critical phone numbers and addresses. If they are far enough from home, they might need a safe place to stay in case they have to vacate campus immediately, like an antiseptic barn or a never-used cabin in the woods. They also might need to know the name and phone number of a local doctor or a doctor from home who can talk them through any medical challenges through telemedicine. Waiting at university health services, urgent care facilities, or hospitals may create undo stress and raise exposure to the virus.

Now, how many weeks or months of clothing to pack has become a matter of opinion. Some people, like my daughter, are listening to their school suggestion and are planning to pack for a total of three weeks. In that case, one or even one-and-a half suitcases may be sufficient.

Okay, what else? Well, they’ll need electronics and chargers, so they can do most of their work from their dorm room or a pre-reserved room in a library or any other space students can reserve that is cleaned in between study sessions.

Given that the gym, where they might go to run or lift weights, is likely on restricted hours or is only available for school athletes, they might also want to bring a few light weights, just to get some exercise in the room.

Even though they may only be there for three weeks, they’ll need plenty of air freshener and bug spray. If these students and their roommates spend most if not all of their time in their rooms, they may eat most, if not all, of their meals in this small space. Unless they take regular, exercise-inducing trips to remove their trash, the leftovers will likely start to smell within a few days, particularly in hotter rooms that don’t have air conditioners.

These students will also need cameras and plenty of memory in their electronic devices. If they only get three weeks or less of time on campus, they’re probably going to want to document as much as possible of their campus life, before they do all of their learning remotely.

Oh, and they might need a few notebooks, pencils and pens. Then again, if they do everything online, those antiquated items might be unnecessary in a year of unknowns.

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Here we are, July 23 and it’s time to Play Ball!

The Yankees and the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals are returning to the field. The old familiar rules are still in place, with a few COVID-19 related exceptions, including air fists and air elbows.

So, as professional athletes prepared to return this week to some of America’s favorite activities, I conducted a non-scientific poll, reaching out to a range of people to ask a few sports questions.

Before I get to the responses, it occurs to me to make a suggestion to the many teams preparing to fill empty stadiums with cardboard cutouts. Why not reach out to young, budding artists to get them to send cutouts that the teams could put in the seats? In a baseball game, if a cutout gets hit with a foul ball, the stadium crew could sanitize the ball, put it in a case and ship it to the lucky fan whose cutout was hit.

Anyway, here are the survey results.

For starters, Marie will “probably watch more sports. Not because I want to. But because my husband and children will be clamoring for any available TVs in the house. I hear them say that they would watch chess if it was televised,” she explained in an email.

She suspects watching the game may not be as much fun without fans in the stands.

Although she’s been told she’s a “negative Nelly,” Marie doesn’t think either the seasons or the school year will finish.

Jane, who is more of a sports fan, says she and her family are “so starved for competition and sports on TV and in person” that they’ll likely “binge watch sports” and, when they can attend, will go as much as possible.
They are college sports fans, so they’ve discussed the possibility of football Saturdays without football. She anticipates numerous shortened seasons.

Paula, a good friend whose passion for the Yankees is as deep as her husband’s dedication to the Red Sox, expects the household to have as much sports as before, which means they will have a game on every night whenever anyone is playing. Their sports enthusiasm connects them with their college-aged son. They have been watching exhibition baseball games. They expect baseball may get through the season, particularly with large enough rosters. She isn’t optimistic about hockey, basketball or football.

A New England fan, Luke will probably watch more of the Patriots and Tampa Bay football teams, because of his interest in Tom Brady and Cam Newton. His daughters are more concerned about their own leagues than the pros. He thinks the NBA might make it 20 games and the NFL about 10.

Robert calls his Phillies’ watching a “family ritual,” and he looks forward to spending time together cheering on the team. Last year, his family splurged for expensive seats near the infield for the first time and were looking forward to repeating that this summer. They also love watching the Olympics, which will have to wait until next year.

His family hasn’t discussed the return of sports, which may reflect a phase of “acceptance given all the suffering going on in the world.” Still he anticipates “huddling together on the family room couch” to watch the Phillies. With strong testing programs and without fans or crowds, he anticipates that the shortened season will conclude, even if case numbers rise.

Finally, Jenn, who doesn’t watch any sports, caught a few moments of the Yankees-Mets game at Citi Field, which she continues to refer to as Shea. She observed that there is “something so viscerally communal about sports it seems so sad and empty without the community” of fans. Some of those fans, however, will be coming together in person and at a distance, to cheer on their teams.

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Everyone has a social cup that they need to fill. Some have cups the size of shot glasses or even thimbles and can satisfy their need for social interactions with a few exchanges of pleasantries on a walk or by picking up the phone and dialing friends in town or across the country.

Each day, these people meet their own social needs with relative ease and without spending much time looking family, friends, neighbors and even strangers in the eye and telling their tales.

Others, however, need to fill large mugs that may be the size of enormous water bottles. They need to hear and tell jokes, to exchange thoughts and ideas, to laugh with others about their jobs, their kids, or the successes and failures of their cooking efforts, their favorite teams or the unbelievable acts of kindness or insensitivity they have witnessed.

Recently, my wife and I listened, outside and while socially distanced, to a friend of ours who lives with a larger social cup describe the abject misery he feels from working at home. The conditions don’t bother him and his children, who are grown up and living their lives and aren’t wandering into the picture when he gets on a zoom call.

For him, the challenge resides in the lack of contact with other people. When my wife and I suggested he call college friends and reach out to other people, he said he’d tried, but part of the problem is that they don’t have much to discuss.

Part of the problem is the Groundhog Day nature of his and everyone else’s life. Sitting at home and working, and taking a few breaks a day to walk his dogs, he hasn’t lived the way he’d like so he can gather the kinds of stories that refill that cup.

Later in that same week, my wife and I were flicking through the channels and saw CNN deriding President Donald Trump (R), while Fox was supporting the president and tearing into the presumptive Democratic challenger for the presidency, Joe Biden.

We have long lived in the world of outrage culture, where what passes for news and analysis has become an opportunity for experts to rip an issue, a person, an idea, a movement or anything apart that they can.

I picture the TV producers looking at their line up of articulate but angry people in suits each morning, trying to pick the best one to stir the pot, rile up the viewers and warn the world about the dangers that await them.

We don’t have many modern day versions of Mr. Rogers because calm, cool and collected doesn’t play as well as outraged and angry.

But, here’s the thing: people at home who haven’t filled their social cups may direct their discomfort and angry energy in destructive ways.

I get it: angry people with strong opinions likely bring in strong ratings for news organizations that have become instruments of advocacy. After all, few people sold newspapers or watched TV shows without a hint of drama or conflict.

In our lives, however, we have enough of conflict and drama, thank you very much.

With people struggling to deal with so much uncertainty and isolation and holding empty and dried out cups that reflect how much they miss familiar contact and connection, a soothing and calm presence that supports solutions rather than tearing down other people’s ideas, is far preferable to shows that foment anger.

With a contentious election on the horizon in which some portion of the population will be utterly crestfallen after the electoral votes are counted, we need news organizations to offer the kind of hope and solutions that doesn’t make people feel as if they’re holding an empty cup.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Look, we’re out of practice. It’s totally normal. We’ve spent so much time talking to kids who don’t listen, to pets who need a break from us and to computers that seem determined to sabotage our efforts to work from home that we may have lost a step or two in our social graces.

Slowly, like hermit crabs emerging from their shells, we are stepping out into the phased world, in which we can do this, but can’t do that and where we are seeing more three-dimensional people and not those two-dimensional figures who flash across all manner of electronic devices.

As a quick refresher, I’d like to offer a reminder of the things that should give us pause if we’re about to share them with others who may be a bit sensitive.

The following should serve as verbal red flags:

Not that I’m looking, but … if whatever comes next is something you shouldn’t be staring at, such as anatomical areas, private letters or emails, you shouldn’t finish the sentence.

Don’t take this the wrong way … well, if a part of you recognizes that what you’re about to say could be problematic or painful for the listener, consider saying it in a different way or not saying it at all.

Obviously … this can go in one of two directions. A truly obvious statement doesn’t need sharing. A statement you think is obvious but isn’t so clear to the listener becomes a way to offend that person, who may have a reflexive defensive response.

I’m no expert, but … we all often talk about subjects in which we have no expertise. We might be anywhere from slightly informed to ill informed. We should be able to share what we think we might know, but we may not want to challenge someone who designs buildings on the best way to put together a LEGO house.

This is such a minor point that I hesitate to bring it up … maybe instead of hesitating, you should just not. Correcting the day of the week on a story about an event that occurred over 10 years ago seems unnecessary and distracting.

I don’t want to take the wind out of your sails … you’re probably about to do what you say you’re not doing, so own it and say you disagree completely or let me continue to sail off into my happy sunset.

What do I know, but … This expression suggests that you are about to do one of two things. You’re likely preparing to deliver serious criticism, but want to couch it by suggesting that it might not be based on anything other than a disdain for you, your wardrobe choices, your career path, or anything in between. Alternatively, you’re about to say something that seems supportive — “what do I know, but your idea for submersible homes seems compelling to me”  — but that really suggests that you’re hiding behind false humility. If someone follows your advice, the “what do I know” expression is your way of dodging any responsibility for their mistakes.

I don’t mean to offend you, but … this is one of my favorites. It suggests that you know you are about to be offensive and that you don’t mean it, but you just can’t help it. You’re about to share something that may dress up as helpful, like a Trojan horse, perhaps, but that will likely cause damage.

Holding our tongues can be incredibly difficult, especially when we’d like to tell the person in front of us how we want to make a minor, but likely obvious point that we hope doesn’t take the wind out of their sails or offend them. We also don’t know what we’re talking about because we’re not experts. Still, it was sort of good to see them.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

America was reluctant to enter both World Wars and yet we won them both, at a tremendous cost to previous generations.

Today, as we continue to battle through the coronavirus, I’d like to think we will persevere. We don’t need political spin. We have plenty of that from both sides.

We need a sense of optimism, of shared purpose and of a keen belief that we will prevail through hard work and a readiness to innovate and adapt. We see so many horrific headlines about the number of people who test positive and who are threatening the capacity of health care systems in Florida and Texas, among others.

Even as we do everything we can to protect our health and the safety of our friends and family, we need to believe in ourselves and in our ability to work together. Defeating the virus takes more than ignoring it or claiming victory for political expediency.

Whoever wins this presidential election in this incredibly challenging year will have enormous work to do. 

Even a vaccine that is tested and produced in mass quantities by the early part of next year, which seems spectacularly optimistic but is still possible, doesn’t automatically put us back on the path to the world of 2019.

After all, the flu vaccine doesn’t eradicate the illness. It comes back with a vengeance some years. Some people who receive the shot still get sick, oftentimes with less severe symptoms.

We need to recognize that the world has changed. We’ve had time to process it and to adjust, even if we’re sick of the new rules. We need to use all the space we have to turn what seems like a nuisance and an inconvenience into a modern triumph.

The country can and should rethink everything from ways to attend sporting events to the specific needs of the home office. Maybe sports stadiums should remove seats, put picnic tables in front of patrons and make the game-time experience for fans look different because, for the foreseeable future, it will be.

Yes, I know, that will cost an incredible amount of money, but it would also give patrons a chance to enjoy their own space, instead of hoping for a time machine that brings us back to an era when we gave strangers a high five when our team scored.

Maybe waiters and waitresses can provide virtual personalized service, connecting through online services that deliver, via conveyor belt beneath those tables, contactless food to guests.

We need to renovate our homes to enjoy the new reality. Maybe we need virtual artwork we can add to our walls, that helps expand our small rooms and that changes at the flick of a switch. Maybe we also can figure out ways to create virtual assembly lines, where workers provide their part of a mechanized process from a distance, in a basement, workspace, or outside in their enclosed yards. It may not be as efficient, because someone might have to transport those parts, but those driving opportunities also create jobs for people who become a part of a new, virtual factory.

We may want to go back to the way things were, but we need to recognize the realities, and the opportunities, that come from moving forward. Moving on will require us to develop new ideas, create new jobs, and believe in ourselves. We have survived and thrived through challenges before, by pulling together, by innovating, and by tapping into the combination of ingenuity and hard work. People are prepared to put in the effort to earn their own version of the American Dream. We need innovations, new businesses, and inspirations that reignite the economy, while protecting our health.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

This generation of college students have dealt with numerous shocks in their short lives. Most of them were born around the time of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. That event triggered several battles on foreign soil, led to the Department of Homeland Security, and created a world in which people took off their shoes at the airport and passed through metal detectors on the way in to concerts and sporting events.

As if that weren’t enough, this generation then had to deal with the 2008 financial crisis, when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and when life, for many, became considerably more challenging amid a painful decline in the subprime housing market.

Through their upbringing, they also heard about mass shootings, some of which occurred at school. They practiced shelter-in-place and had nightmares about killers roaming the same hallways where artwork depicting students’ families and the alphabet adorned the walls.

The contentious 2016 presidential election brought two largely unpopular choices onto center stage. After a bitter election fight, the country didn’t have much time to heal, as the Democrats and Republicans transformed into the Montagues and Capulets.

Indeed, while each side dug in deeply, their respective media supporters expressed nonstop outrage and acted dumbfounded by the misdirection and apparent idiocy of the leaders and their minions across the aisle.

Then 2020 happened. The virus has killed over 120,000 Americans, crippled economies, led to mass layoffs and unemployment and turned the hug and the handshake into bygone gestures from six months ago that somehow seem even longer ago. With the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, many protesters weathered the viral storm that had kept them inside for months to express outrage at a system where equal protection under the law seemed like a distant ideal.

Now, these same students face the possibility of returning to school. Some colleges have told their students to return earlier than normal, to forego visits to friend’s dorms, and to wear masks and social distance.

It seems likely that many of these colleges’ students, who have a familiar youth-inspired independent streak, will defy these new rules, much the same way many in the general public, including President Donald Trump (R), shun the idea of wearing masks.

If  I were running a college, and I’m glad I’m not because I’m struggling to provide sound  advice to two teenagers, I would triple and quadruple my medical staff. I would urge regular testing and I would make sure my college had the best possible treatments and plans ready.

Fortunately, the treatments for the virus have improved from the beginning, as the medical community has raced to provide relief to those battling draining and debilitating symptoms that have lasted for weeks or even months.

When people do contract the virus, as they inevitably will at some of these schools, I would urge students to rally around each other, their professors and anyone else who contracted COVID-19.

Unfortunately, this generation has had to grow up rapidly, to see ways each of them can play a role in helping each other. Students may not only become involved in the standard blood drives; they may urge their peers to check for antibodies and to donate convalescent plasma, which may help save lives and ameliorate the worst of the viral symptoms.

The modern college student doesn’t have to look to distant shores to find people overwhelmed and in need of their youthful energy and good intentions.

Many college students want to be relevant and contribute. They can and will have ample opportunities, with their antibodies, with their understanding and empathy, and with their ongoing resilience in the face of a lifetime of challenges.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

As we approach Father’s Day, I can’t help thinking that the creators of the alphabet hid important lessons in plain sight when they put the letters “n” and “o” between the letters “m” and “p.”

The letter “m” starts the Latin word “mater,” which means mother. The letter “p” starts the word
“pater,” which, also in Latin, means father.

Between mom and dad, then, resides the simple,
effective and important word “no.”

Parents who aren’t on the same page about decisions will find children who don’t believe a “no” ever means anything because they will run to the other parent to find someone who will render a “no” from the former parent meaningless.

Parents need the word “no” to unite them, bringing together the “m” and “p” that makes it possible to provide consistent parenting advice. When a “no” from dad is also a “no” from mom, children can’t divide and conquer with their parents.

Now, valuing and appreciating the word “no” doesn’t necessarily mean parents should say “no” to everything. In fact, when mom and dad agree on something for their children, they can and should celebrate the opportunities they urge their progeny to pursue.

When our children were young, we found ourselves falling into the repeated “no” pattern, mostly to protect our children. “Don’t go in the street, don’t put that toy in your mouth, don’t grab that dog’s tail, etc.” While all of those rules are valid and valuable, they also can create a culture of “no” that constantly reminds children of their limitations, giving them the equivalent of a Greek chorus of “no” that follows them around, preventing them from exploring the world or from considering opportunities and risks worth taking because they expect a giant “NO!” sign to appear in their closet, under their bed, at the entrance to their classroom or in the backyard.

My wife and I put considerable energy into redirecting our children, rather than giving them a negative answer. We suggested alternatives to their suggestion or even, at times, a compromise answer that wasn’t a negative so much as it was a reshaping of an impulse.

On an elemental level, the letters “n” and “o” also seem so apt for the world between mom and dad. After all, N for nitrogen represents 78 percent of the atmosphere while O for oxygen represents 21 percent, which means that, between the letter placeholder for mom and dad resides the letters for 99 percent of the atmosphere of the earth.

The elements nitrogen and oxygen also, like some families, exist in paired form as molecules instead of single elements. These molecules float around in the atmosphere as a duo, with a strong covalent bond keeping the orbiting electron shells full.

For children, saying “no” to their parents starts early as a way to fight back against the world of “no” while they drift into the world of the terrible twos or, in our children’s case, the threadbare threes. When these children are caught between their mother and father, they may find that their only defense against a disagreeable world is to hold up their own “no” shield.

That small word, however, is important to change the world as well, because children who can defend their “no” answer to parents can also refuse to accept problems they see in the world. Instead, they can defy policies or ideas that rankle them. Saying “no” to anything aids cognitive development and, as it turns out, is good preparation for parenting. It has to be true because it’s right there, hidden in place sight, in the alphabet.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Hi, welcome to my store. It’s so good to see you after all these years. It hasn’t been years, I know, but it just feels like it because I’ve been a prisoner at home with my teenage children who have decided they are allergic to cooking, cleaning or almost anything else that has to do with helping around the house.

But, hey, this isn’t about me, it’s about you. You’re looking well, thank goodness. That’s the most important thing, right? This virus has been so hard on everyone, but I promised I wouldn’t say anything about the virus today.

Anyway, we have decided to move to a high touch environment because we can only have two people in our store at a time and one of them is me, which means you’ll have to leave the child you’re carrying in the stroller outside. 

You don’t have a stroller? No problem. I have a disinfected stroller just for this occasion that I can bring out from the back for you. In fact, I’m happy to sell it to you at a bargain price because I haven’t sold much of anything these days. I tried selling food to my teenage kids, but they just said I was a terrible cook, they weren’t hungry or they would be in their rooms and I shouldn’t bother them until 2021.

Oh, wait, there, I did it again. I’m so sorry. Silly me, I’m talking about myself. And, whoops, I see from your frown that you’re not happy I touched your shoulder when I made that joke. I have to make sure I socially distance. In fact, I have this new touch-the-shoulder-in-a-joking-way stick that’s exactly six feet long which I would also be happy to sell to you. I know it looks like two yard sticks taped together, which it kind of is, but it guarantees that you’ll be six feet away from everyone else. 

Yes, of course, I’m fine. Why do you ask? I’m so happy we’re entering Phase Two this week, you know? It’s a relief. I’m desperate for a haircut and I’m sure you are, too.

No, I didn’t mean to say that I thought you needed a haircut. Your hair looks great and the customer is always right.

Anyway, so I see you’re looking at those boots over there. What an excellent choice! You clearly have an eye for high fashion. I’m sure my daughter, who is on the other side of the plexiglass, wouldn’t mind taking them off and selling them to you.

Oh, you want new ones? Well, that may take a while because our shipment is in quarantine. Oh, no, wait, the shipment hasn’t even reached quarantine yet, so, ha ha, how about if you glance through the rest of the store while I pretend to read this dystopian book that I thought might be a good idea before we started to live in a dystopian society. 

What’s that? Oh, well, I’ve had a few cups of coffee this morning because I thought I’d need to be my sharpest and this stupid book kept me up all night. But, hey, I’m like a phoenix, returning to the world of selling and socializing and connecting with my customers, because that, after all, is the key to being successful in business.

Wait, no, please, don’t leave. I know your child is outside screaming. You can bring her in. It’s fine, really. In fact, can I give you a hug? I was kidding. That was a test and you passed, so, yay for you.

Oh, I see you’re really going. Well, tell your friends about the store. Did I mention that your hair looks great?

Hundreds of protesters stand at the corner of Routes 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station Monday, June 1 to protest police violence, especially against people of color. Photo by David Luces

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Stepping outside of our homes presents risks. We could have a car accident on the way to work or a branch could fall on us, among myriad other potential dangers.

These days, the risks of leaving our homes have escalated. We could catch the dreaded coronavirus anywhere if we stand closer than six feet to anyone.

Nowadays, interactions that we engaged in all of our lives with friends and family, such as shaking hands or hugging, increase the risk of picking up the invisible enemy, bringing it to our home sanctuaries and infecting our partners, children, and parents.

We have learned to manage the risks we’ve now heard about for months by staying as far away from other people as we can and by wearing masks.

And yet, for some Americans, the risks of stepping outside of homes where we were hopefully safe most of the time, was clearly higher than it was for other Americans.

Indeed, the risks of dying from coronavirus differed by race. The age-adjusted death rate in Suffolk County for whites was 49.5 per 100,000 people, according to statistics from the Department of Health. For Hispanics on Long Island, that number is 108.7, which is more than twice the rate per 100,000 people. For blacks, the number is an astronomical 170.1 deaths per 100,000 people in the county, which is well over three times the rate for whites.

Those statistics generally track the disproportionate toll the virus has had on communities of color.

Now, layer on top of that the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Seemingly at the worst possible time for our country, as businesses are just starting to reopen and as standing within 6 feet of each other increases the chance of our catching a virus that has claimed over 100,000 American lives, people are going outside in huge numbers across the country to express their outrage over Floyd’s killing at the seemingly indifferent hands of a white police officer who faces third-degree murder charges.

Those African-Americans who gather, at the risk of contracting an infection that has already wreaked havoc in their communities, are expressing anger and frustration at a justice system that appears anything but just.

The news coverage of the protests has often focused on the most explosive and terrifying events, where looting and setting fire to police cars and engaging in random acts of violence have occurred. Those shocking actions are inexcusable manifestations of those frustrations, turning justifiable disappointment into illegal acts. These moments also threaten to overshadow the message from so many others who would like to see constructive changes.

Many peaceful protestors, however, might have the same approach to the risks of joining others to protest Floyd’s murder that President Donald Trump (R) did to the notion of taking hydroxychloroquine, which may or may not reduce the health effects and dangers of COVID-19.

What, they might wonder, do they have to lose at this point?

The answer is not so simple, particularly as the risk of getting arrested, hit with a rubber bullet or vomiting from inhaling tear gas increases.

The dangers in stepping outside into a world filled with a virus that infects our bodies and cultural viruses that threaten the soul of the country are especially high in a year with overtones from the civil unrest of the 1960’s.

Peaceful protestors can and should demand and expect the kind of changes that will allow them and their children to step outside to a country where the risks from being out of their homes shouldn’t depend on the color of their skin.

Photo from METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Our world is filled with all kinds of new terms, like social distancing, face coverings and viral peaks. We could use a few new terms to describe the modern reality, which might give us greater control over the unsettling world around us. How about:

Zoom Staging: The process of setting up our best artwork and most intelligent books behind us. We might have read “War and Peace” or “Crime and Punishment” or “An American Tragedy” in college. It’s time to find those and put them on the shelves behind us, leading to a deep discussion about our favorite books as we wait for other people to join the calls. We could also add a few adorable pieces of incomprehensible artwork from our children that none of our coworkers would dare criticize.

Curbworld: Even though we’re opening up parts of the economy starting this week, we still can only do some retail shopping through curbside pickup. We have become a world that exists at the curb, where retail space goes untouched and where curbs have become the intersection of our outings and the stuff we bring home.

Googleversity: To some extent, we were living in this world before the virus, but search platforms have become a critical part of our children’s home learning environment. In addition to listening to a professor with a headset or air pods on, our children are also frantically searching the web in real time to answer questions about the War of 1812 or about theorems that sound vaguely familiar.

Coviracy Theories: The world was filled with conspiracy theories before President Donald Trump (R) came along and will have plenty of conspiracy theories after he leaves. Still, the preponderance of conspiracy theories related to the virus should have its own lexicon, as people have blamed everyone from foreign governments to incredibly rich and successful technology geniuses for the virus.

Insertcollege.edu: Up until now, people have graduated from colleges where they had unique, on site experiences. This year, that’s not the case, as distance learning seems to have become something of a commodity, with professors of all talent levels struggling to engage a group of people remotely. None of the books we have that are supposed to help with the college hunt — and we have plenty of them now with a high school junior and a college freshman in our midst — help us differentiate among the online platforms of the institutions of higher learning. It’s unclear how, if at all, any of these institutions stands out.

SWSD: Second Wave Stress Disorder. Over the last several weeks, we have heard plenty about a coming second wave. In fact, some colleges that are reopening their doors this fall, such as North Carolina State University, plan to start their semester early, go through fall break and then send students home for an extended break that they hope allows them to avoid a second wave at school.

91 Divoc Dreams: Given the dream world, it seems fitting that we reverse the order of COVID-19 to suggest the upside down world that haunts our dreams, which is a mixture of the realities of our daily fears, anxieties and discomforts blended with the imaginative world of science fiction drama that we beam into our bedrooms that distract and unnerve us.

Masksession: Some of us have become obsessed with the right not to wear a mask, even as others feel an urgency to ensure everyone wears masks. The mask discussion has become an obsession.

2020 No More: To finish the vernacular, we should no longer consider perfect vision to be 20-20 because, after all, 2020 sucks. We could change it to 21-21 or anything else, where we don’t need to link the perfect vision of hindsight to this imperfect year.