Unexpected Thoughts

It’s Time to Scale Up to 3D Cubed Bingo

Twenty-Twenty is the year that requires more than a single page of squares. We are about to enter our eighth month and already we have passed through our Goals Bingo, Super Bowl Bingo, Pandemic Bingo Week One, Quarantini Bingo, and Pandemic Bingo Weeks Two to Eternity.

Now it’s time for 3D Cubed Bingo, and I don’t mean bingo for people into cubing, although this video of blindfolded Rubik’s Cube world record holder Jack Cai is a fun peek into that subculture.

Nope, 3D-CubedBingo is necessary to survive a year filled with murder hornets, tool-wielding baboons, and the irony of Walmart having to ban people for offensive face-covering fashion choices, as opposed to all the other weird things people do there.

It’s kind of telling that applying bingo card labels to a Rubik’s cube and then solving for a full side of bingo sounds less frustrating than navigating our current situation, but at least we’re not attempting multi-dimensional, multi-lingual, multi-reality mahjong, yet.

Image by DomenicBlair from Pixabay

Unexpected Thoughts

Limes, Listerine and Lysol

(Sondheim probably wrote a tune that matches this. Or else it’s from Hamilton. Whatever Broadway tune it is escapes me, but hopefully these new lyrics will amuse you.)

Limes, Listerine and Lysol.

Limes, Listerine, and Lysol.

Limes. Listerine. Lysol.

We need three things. Just three things.

Limes. Listerine. Lysol.

One to eat, one to rinse, one to clean.

None to inject.

All three disinfect.

Limes. Listerine. Lysol.

Limes. Listerine. Lysol.

Did I type them in the app?

Do I see them on the list?

Are they hiding in the trunk?

Can you find them in the house?

Limes. Listerine. Lysol.

We need three things.

Just three things.

One to eat, one to rinse, one to clean.

Do we have them? No!

Can we get them on the go?

Find them somewhere

I don’t know but I feel…




Three things.

I need…..

Unexpected Thoughts

Nurses Will Migrate to Mars Without Us

Nurses appreciate applause, free pizza and siren parades, but really, what they want is for everyone to wash their hands properly and stay home. If we truly believe that modern nurses are both superheroes and saints, we cannot simultaneously think that injecting bleach is a good idea.

An integral part of every nurse’s training is reading the patient. They look at our bodies, our reactions, and our environments to know what treatment and empathetic care we need. A nurse can take one glance at you and know your state of mind, your favorite color, and whether you’ve done number two lately. Right now, when they look at America, nurses are not pleased.

Nurses do not like having to choose between working covid floors or not working at all because their hospitals can’t restart other lifesaving procedures until everyone stops hoarding N95 masks and agrees to wear underwear on their face while grocery shopping. Oh, wait. You don’t have to wear an underwear mask. There are several other styles and recommendations for non-medical plebes, but you think the N95 is a more sexy and slimming choice than looping a handkerchief over your ears. C’mon people. Saving lives is not a style choice.

Listen carefully, because we are on notice: use your brain, or nurses will leave the planet without you. There is a huge difference between acting on every random, anxious thought and channeling your God-given free will to contribute to society during an unprecedented worldwide emergency.

You are being asked to stay home, work differently, and teach math to your children. These things are surprisingly difficult, but only the math part requires Olympic level marathon training and dedication. Take a deep breath or twelve, and stop panicking or a nurse will intubate you to shut your mouth and improve your brain function.

The next time you share that meme about how nurses are saving the planet, take an extra two seconds to remind your elected officials that medical professionals still need PPE. Then listen and think about nurses before you hold a house party. Otherwise, they will all hop a rocket to Mars in search of intelligent life.

Random Thoughts Unexpected Thoughts

7 Definite Conversation Stoppers

Advice about how to start conversations is everywhere. Google reports 49.5 million results on the term “conversation starters” and there’s an entire subset of the greeting card and stationary industries dedicated to “convo cards,” those cute little playing decks with leading questions and provocative themes that adults use when trying to avoid the three verbotens of friendly conversations. Since we’re not allowed to talk about things we care about like politics, religion or when the DC football team will get a clue and change its name, we talk about inanities suggested by strangers.

These strangers optimistically compile lists of “225 Quality Conversation Starters,” apparently based on the assumption that if you need these suggestions, you have no friends and plenty of spare time. Surely these fine questions will lead to long and interesting conversations and perhaps even greater understanding and world peace.

Much overlooked by etiquette experts and conversation specialists is the need to end a conversation before it even begins. The following scenarios will ensure that everyone within hearing finds something else to do and someone else to do it with:

  1. I’m writing a really interesting white paper at work and just finished the outline which I would like to share with you now.
  2. You know, I think people are way too hard on meteorologists. Weather stations have only existed here since the 1850s so I believe the science will harden into a precision prediction machine sometime later this century.
  3. Please don’t share this with anyone, but I got a hot stock tip today via email and I know you will want to buy in with me.
  4. Just between you, me, and the ceiling, there’s something wrong with the cheese and I’m horrified.
  5. I need a new manicurist but I’m afraid to break up with my current manicurist first because of a very complicated situation.
  6. There’s vomit on my shoe from either one of my children or my mother’s cat and I just do not have the time for this.
  7. Quality of life and time of day are totally interrelated for me.

Even easier than remembering these seven topics are the three themes of the list. You cannot fail to repel thoughtful, empathetic people by talking about outlines and theories, illegal insider trading, or making blanket statements that reveal your total inability to cope with life.

Since the key to starting a good conversation is to show genuine interest in people and demonstrate active listening, then your tactic to escape human contact must involve the strategic deployment of words that invoke horror or narcolepsy. Good luck.

Unexpected Thoughts

5 Things We Really Don’t Need Anymore

As our daily world shrinks to four walls, a computer screen, and occasionally the sidewalk, it turns out that certain economic categories and philosophic frameworks are more expendable than ever expected.

  1. Oil. More specifically, fuel. At this point, we need petroleum by-products for personal protective equipment far more than we need fuel to go anywhere. It turns out that there’s a 50-year backstock on the most useful petroleum by-products, so oil producers are scaling back production and paying speculators to take oil nobody wants right now in the hopes that someone will want to to go to Timbuktu again someday. By the time this is over, though, I’m quite certain one budding genius or another will have invented solar-powered flying cars in her backyard.
  2. Schedules. Turns out, an occasional online meeting is all some of us need to convince our bosses that we’re actually doing the things they pay us to be doing. Interestingly, no one seems to care about timestamps on emails anymore, and response times of 2-4 hours are now acceptable when 2-4 minutes was previously the average.

    Of course, certain people are leaving the house on a regular basis to do totally essential things like remove our garbage, restock grocery shelves, and reiterate that we can reopen when the data says so, not somebody’s intuition. Even these people have discovered that traffic no longer makes the commute to their essential job unbearable and lunchtime lines at Subway are avoidable thanks to the app. So many apps.

    Our children have gamed out the ruse of schedules and planning. School-age children rouse themselves to log in to their online classrooms, post their assignments, and then wander into our online meetings to proclaim their boredom or announce that the microwave exploded. Toddlers lurch between playing contentedly for hours with an empty box and knocking over drinks to get our attention. We are all rediscovering what babies already know, which is that clocks are irrelevant to meeting life’s essential needs, namely eating and sleeping.
  3. Specialists. Dentists and certain doctors are suddenly shocked to discover that they are temporarily expendable. There is no place more empty than a plastic surgeon’s office right now. I haven’t been to my dermatologist in something like 89 months, but they sent an automated message to assure me that they care and can safely review any skin spots or other “areas of concern” either in person with a physically spaced appointment or via telehealth. Orthopedists and podiatrists find themselves in the same state of bewilderment. Of course, they will be very busy when we emerge from our cocoons, but until then their type A personality is completely bent out of shape.
  4. Individualism. The frontier-driven philosophy of doing it all by and for ourselves turns out to be a bit dangerous in the midst of pandemics. Something is seriously askew when the taxpayers of Los Angeles have to pay their police officers to babysit adults by parking in soccer fields in order to prevent grown men from continuing to play soccer games that are clearly forbidden.

    Suddenly, conservatives and libertarians are looking at Sweden with awe and admiration for staying open. They fail to take into account that as a nation, Swedes tend to follow the rules and consider the collective good, while Americans pride themselves on the opposite.
  5. Standards. It turns out that standardized testing is not essential to educational progress. Actually, no testing whatsoever can take place when some children are learning from broken Chromebooks while hiding in their closets and others get designated learning spaces in the living room and the lucky few can retreat to their parents’ third-floor solarium. Naked inequity is a very unattractive thing.

    Professionally, many middle managers have quietly given up on quarterly evaluations while coping with more concrete issues. The definition of “grows in professional expertise and shares it” has been downgraded to mean “teaches teammates to Zoom properly.” Nobody cares anymore how many spaces come after a period or whether the latest corporate announcement about the response to the pandemic is flawlessly worded. There will be another announcement tomorrow or the next day, and best practices evolve hourly.

    Unfortunately, now nobody knows what anybody knows and instead of merely checking off benchmarks and goals, we’re going to have to have actual conversations moving forward. That is the most frightening outcome of all. What if we actually learn something?
Unexpected Thoughts

Midewin Social Media Shout Out

I will be on vacation next week, and one of the places we will visit is Midewin Tallgrass Prairie, a National Forest Service site dedicated to education and restoration of the tallgrass prairie in Illinois. Many Illinois residents have no idea there’s a great nature refuge just two hours south of Chicago! Since the prairie is a relatively new destination in an area with many options, the team works hard to share the vision and opportunities of this great resource. I love their Bison Cam, and their efforts to connect the public to the important work they do.

Their Facebook pictures are also a delight!

Unexpected Thoughts

Take Canva to Another Level

Though I will always be a Photoshop devotee, I love to share Canva with people who do not feel confident about their graphic skills. The online design platform makes it incredibly easy to make fast, professional looking graphics. Their templates are simple examples of great design. If you’d like to move beyond these turnkey options, play with the elements to change colors, shapes or orientations. In the graphic below, I moved text from the center, added birds and changed the entire color scheme.