Ho, Ho, Ho

It’s Sunday, March 15, 2020.

Today is Santa Claus’ 1,750th birthday.

Really. (Or as really as these things are, given the lack of digital – or analog – data in the third century. The history is a little fuzzy.)

Nicholas of Myra’s most famous trait was generosity, but he wasn’t looking much for publicity. According to lore, he secretly threw gold into a house so that a poor man’s three daughters could be married rather than become prostitutes – the sex workers’ rights movement not having caught on yet.

The poor man supposedly caught Nicholas in the act. But Nicholas told him not to tell anyone.

Obviously, the guy couldn’t be trusted. Hence, “Miracle on 34th Street” et al.

Nicholas became a bishop of the early Catholic Church who lived until Dec. 6, 343 – for some reason, Catholics decided to celebrate the day he died, not today.

Alas, Santa is likely spending the day social distancing from the elves at the North Pole.

It’s also the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar was shot to death in the Roman Senate.

Just checking to see if you’re awake.

I haven’t done one of these in a while. But given our peculiar circumstances, it seems a great idea for all of us  to share what we’re thinking.

It would at least reduce the sense of isolation.

Because we’re going to be at this for awhile.

I’ll try to do this every other day. But here’s five quick thoughts I’ve had in the past day or so.

  1. When I was at CNNMoney.com, one of my responsibilities was contingency planning.

Two or three times a year, I’d be pulled from editing copy to take part in a company-wide drill. Somebody would plot some disaster scenario and I would go to another building in Manhattan or a remote truck on a Hudson River pier and see if I could run our website from there.

The scenario would be a bomb somewhere in the city – that one came dangerously true at CNN itself in October 2018 – or a disgruntled employee stabbing my boss or other things that involved terrorists, madmen or weather.

We never, ever planned for this.

Not even close. If somebody had come up with this idea, it would have been laughed out of the room.

To their credit, the people at CNN and other newsrooms around the country have become much more proficient at scrambling. My former colleagues are working at home – the CNN exceptions are the people who have to go on air and the people who have to put them on it.

No, they don’t want or expect the plaudits rightly being given to the frontline people in this crisis: medical workers, first responders, the employees at grocery, drug and warehouse stores.

But telling people the facts about what’s going on is an essential part of how we’ll get through this crisis.

So, as always, my best to my friends working hard to report what might become the biggest story of our lives.

Maybe we didn’t see this one coming. But you folks are ready. Of course.

2.   Is there going to be an extension on income tax filing?

Because I thought my website had $$$ potential, I have a business. My tax deadline is tomorrow – and I took my business and personal tax information to my wonderful accountant last week. Once she does my personal return, I’m done.

But I also have to do the return for my mother, who passed away in November. And I really don’t think I can deal with the intricacies of this without seeing my mother’s accountant – in her hometown 50 miles from here.

The tax deadline doesn’t account for accountants. This is the advantage people who do their own taxes have over the lazy rest of us.

So will the deadline be extended? Or will those of us who use accountants and haven’t gotten started on their return need to file the usual extension request?

3.  Here’s an idea I’m offering ESPN:

Make a deal with a video game maker and form a league.

The players would consist of a mix of athletes idled by the suspension of play in their sports, entertainers barred from the stage and some people drawn in a lottery among people who have registered their software.

Run the contests on air to make up some of the lost hours.

And use the proceeds to help people in need. Maybe stadium and arena employees not getting paid.

You’re welcome.

4.   If Ben Carson and the rest of the clowns in this administration think the answer to this crisis is for them to declare a national day of prayer, I have a weather advisory for the Washington area:

Beware of lightning.

5.   Perhaps, in isolation, we’ll discover things about ourselves we didn’t know before.

The most important thing I hope is that we’re stronger than we thought we were.

Once the seriousness of this crisis became aware to most of us – obviously, there are still dopes who think this is overblown – we became a little panicky.

Witness the Great Toilet Paper Run of 2020.

But now we’re going to have time to hunker down and deal with this. We have to man/woman up and deal with this virus-enforced solitude.

It’ll be easier for some than others. I’m here with my wife and my son, who’s home from South Korea. My daughter is safe three miles away. That’ll be a blessing.

We’ll find ways to engage without getting in each other’s hair. And maybe we’ll learn something new – something hard to imagine after all these years.

Those of you alone or worried about family will have it harder.

Don’t be afraid to reach to friends and acquaintances. Focus on what’s interesting about them and find something new.

This crisis is the opposite of the famous Benjamin Franklin quote about hanging together.

This time we must, indeed, all hang separately – or face catastrophe together.


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