The Week That Was


A year’s worth of news was packed into the week of March 8-14. Microscopic virus. Bull Market. Bear Market. Market correction. Circuit breaker stock trading stoppages. Federal Reserve rate cuts. Big Oil. Falling Oil. Peacetime state of emergency declaration. National state of emergency. Panic buying. Empty store shelves. School closings. Epidemic. Pandemic. No March Madness (March Sadness). Limitations on social gatherings. No St. Paddy’s Day revelry ahead of the real festivities on March 17th.

Even with the gloom and doom, signs do not point to a cataclysmic event. A New Normal perhaps, but not The End as most know it. There are rays of hope. Robins, Wisconsin’s state bird, were observed on March 2nd, well ahead of their usual sighting date. While they looked bewildered, they’re here. They must know something. The sun is gaining strength and soon the concrete snowbanks in boulevards will disappear. Snow melt leads to ‘ice out’ on rivers and lakes, which leads to ‘the opener’ for fishing. Kids are out on bikes. Baseballs and even a few out-of-season footballs are being tossed around. One metro golf course is open (Fore!).

New phrases are part of the New Normal. Case in point, social distancing. It’s another way of defining personal space. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defined social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible.” Try that at a commercial airport or with mass transit. One wise guy suggested using hula-hoops. Midwesterners have observed social distancing for centuries. They not only enjoy their space, they protect it.

Will distance learning delivery for education become part of the New Normal? Let’s hope not. As schools, colleges, and universities transition to interim on-line instruction, pitfalls remain. Online instruction has not lived up to expectations. The quality of instruction is a concern, along with connectivity access to high speed internet and lack of instructor-student interactions.

A traditional handshake will likely be replaced under the New Normal. Wisconsin’s Department of Health offered some alternatives, starting with a friendly wave, and as needed, the elbow bump. Another wise guy suggested stomp, stomp, clap as a cryptic shout-out to Queen and ‘We Will Rock You’.

For those old enough to remember, the music group R.E.M. released a hit entitled, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” back in 1987. It covered a stream of conscious collapse of the world, starting with earthquakes, the environment, and Cold War. Thirty-three years later, the song is getting more listens, thanks mostly to a microscopic virus.

Someday, a couple of supercomputers will calculate the economic impact of today’s global affairs. It will be a big number, a really big number. Until then, common sense prevails. As residents are out and resuming whatever is normal again, keep the stomp, stomp, clap in mind. It may catch on.