Uncertainty

I wish that I could say for sure that what I write is true
About the huge uncertainty that bothers me and you.
Is Coronavirus strengthening or starting to decay?
When will it be safe to mingle with friends night and day?

Some think it’s a conspiracy, a hoax, and great big lie,
But evidence suggests that it’s real risk that folks do die
From exposure to the virus in unsafe social milieu
Where our masks and social distancing some careless folks eschew.

We all know we should wash our hands and keep our hands off face,
But the fear is so chaotic all across the human race.
Some of us are scared to death while others are blasé,
And our leaders can’t agree on the advice they have to say.

Fear of the unknown is an uncomfortable emotion
Yet we can’t see what’s ahead while adrift on this rough ocean.
At the same time we’re afraid we’re also bored out of our skulls,
And the jobless rate is making lives impoverished and dull.

The truth is no one can tell us about the future clear;
In fact we can’t go back to re-judge choices no more near.
Anxiety accompanies our lack of clarity;
We hope that God and Mother Nature show us charity.

So how should we behave when we can’t know what lies ahead?
Safety first and patience can reduce the risk you’re dead.
So must we face the future with an awful sense of dread?
No way! Make the most of today and eat your daily bread.

Walk. Appreciate nature. Breathe the cleaner air. Hug your loved ones near, and write to those afar. Connect online and on phone. Eat a healthy diet; take multivitamins as needed. Read. Wellness depends on common sense. Wear a mask and keep social distance as needed. Expect the best, though accept reality. And know that, according to Shel Silverstein (“True Story” in Where the Sidewalk Ends), things could be worse:

This morning I jumped on my horse
And went out for a ride.
And some wild outlaws chased me
And they shot me in the side.
So I crawled into a wildcat’s cave
To find a place to hide,
But some pirates found me sleeping there,
And soon they had me tied
To a pole and built a fire
Under me – I almost cried
Till a mermaid came and cut me loose
And begged to be my bride,
So I said I’d come back Wednesday
But I must admit I lied.
Then I ran into a jungle swamp
But I forgot my guide
And I stepped into some quicksand,
And no matter how I tried
I couldn’t get out, until I met
A water snake named Clyde,
Who pulled me to some cannibals
Who planned to have me fried.
But an eagle came and swooped me up
And through the air we flied,
But he dropped me in a boiling lake
A thousand miles wide.
And you’ll never guess what I did then –
I DIED.

Sports Shorts: Games

Living in individual, family, or social isolation for the time being, safely avoiding exposure to the Coronavirus, we may want to entertain ourselves with activities that fit into small or residential spaces. It’s fun to play card games; they can be intellectually stimulating, too. Board games, checkers, chess, and video games have recreational and cognitive value. Here are some additional indoor and outdoor games, each involving targets, that may be enjoyable to play during, or after, our quarantine.

Most, though not all, target games require substantial degrees of athletic endowment. Some are much more tame, with minimal cardio-vascular exertion needed to play. As opposed to sports, games may be played with limited movement and reduced need for muscular development, agility, gross motor coordination, speed, and stamina. However, games such as the following require eye-hand coordination and include admirable degrees of difficulty.
Billiards
Bocce
Croquet
Darts
Foosball
Horseshoes
Lawn Bowling
Marbles
Quoits
Shuffleboard
Snooker
Tiddlywinks

Billiards
Down to a smaller scale compared to field sports like baseball, football, and soccer, and arena sports such as tennis, it must be simple to play pocket billiards. Using a table with dimensions of 4 x 8 feet, the magnitude of the game is easy to grasp visually compared to other sports. Spectators stay quiet and fellow competitors do nothing to interfere with one’s shooting. Well, that is unless one’s opponent intentionally leaves the cue ball squarely behind the proverbial, or actual, 8-ball. Calm nerves, steady hands, and skilled eye-hand coordination must combine with visual foresight and geometric angle perception to make any given shot. But to excel, one must plan and control, using “English”, ricochet, and touch, where the cue ball will come to rest in preparation for the succeeding string of shots.

Bocce
Bocce is a sport contested by old men and women, right? Not according to its national governing body, the United States Bocce Federation (USBF). People of all ages may play and compete in the traditional Volo style or the more modern Raffa style; world championships in those styles were first held in 1947 and 1983, respectively. A typical bocce court consists of a layer of clay atop gravel. It measures between 76 and 90 feet in length and has a width from 10 to 12 feet. A Volo court has no sideboards, while a Raffa court is flanked by treated lumber 10 inches high. Each player has four spheres to toss in the direction of the target jack. Volo balls are made of bronze, weigh 2.0-2.6 pounds apiece, and are 3.5-4.3 inches in diameter; Raffa competitors use plastic balls weighing 2 pounds with a diameter of 4.2 inches.

The first player tosses the jack, or wooden pallino (diameter 1.4 inches), onto the court. The players begin by taking a toss at the jack. Whosever ball is closest to it continues to throw as long as his/her tosses are closer than the one of the opponent; if a toss is farther away, the turn changes. After each has tossed all four spheres, the score depends on how many balls are closer to the jack than any of the opponent’s tosses. Thus, the closest earns one point; if that player also has the second closest result, two points are awarded (and so on). Should disputes occur or rules need discussion, Raffa players rely upon a referee while Volo adherents referee themselves. Games usually last somewhere between 7 and 13 points.

Is bocce an easy game to play? Its physical demands are small. The strategy is relatively uncomplicated. But it takes good aim and touch to toss balls close to the target, perhaps knocking aside opponents’ balls or blocking the path to the target effectively.

Croquet
This gentle art is often associated with settings of wealth and leisure. It’s a game that requires little physical exertion or athletic skill to execute, though there are skills to acquire via time and practice. One needs eye-hand coordination and touch to swing the hammer to direct the wooden ball through one or more wickets per shot. Although the end post is a stationary, point-scoring target, there are times when it pays to aim at the ball of an opponent to knock it off-course. A cut-throat attitude can pay dividends.

Darts
The genteel game of darts is accomplished by directing sharp objects (typically weighing about 20 ounces and aerodynamically designed) at a target board 18 inches in diameter from a distance of 7 feet, 9.25 inches (2.37 meters). That distance, from the oche (or throwing line) to the target, may vary between 7’ 6” to 9’, depending upon the pub or game room in which you play. But the center bull, or bull‘s eye, should always be 5’ 8” above the floor. Such humble dimensions should make for an easy game, but the subdivisions of the target, necessary “touch”, and need for concentration (often in a distracting, intoxicating setting) make the game deceptively challenging.

The basic game of darts may award the most points for tosses that penetrate the central bull’s eye, with fewer points earned for shots that end up in the concentric circular areas increasingly distant from the center. But the level of complexity can be greatly enhanced by seeking to hit the little 20 wedges of target area that extend from the center to the perimeter of the target. They are not numbered consecutively but must be struck in turn, 1 through 20, in order to win the contest. Dexterity and focus, not brute force, is what’s required to propel the darts precisely where they need to stick.

Foosball
Table football is a casual sport often played in pubs, bars, schools, clubs, and sometimes even the workplace. Players attempt to use solid (plastic, wood, metal, or carbon fiber) little human-like figures mounted on rotating metal bars to kick a ball into the opposing goal. Few rules apply, and the action can get pretty intense, though the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) provides guidelines for competition (e.g., high-speed spinning of the rods may be discouraged or illegal). Typical tables measure 2 by 4 feet and employ four bars per side: 2 foosmen on defense, 5 foosmen at midfield, 3 attackmen, and 1 goalkeeper to deflect shots that can reach 56 km/h (35 mph). Two individuals play singles while four players, each controlling two rods, may compete in doubles. There are variations in table size, foosmen size, and team size; for example, a special 7-meter-long table has been created to host 11 players per side. The game is usually just a fun hobby or diversion, though the ITSF regulates play in World Championship and World Cup events.

Horseshoes
Is this an odd use of the uniquely shaped metal objects designed to protect horse’s hooves from wear and tear? There are vast supplies of such used footwear, so why not throw them at targets? Actually, the U-shaped horseshoes employed in this game are about twice the size of those that serve as equine hoofwear. Two stakes are placed in the ground (often sand), usually in wood-bound horseshoe “pits” that are 40 feet (12 meters) apart. Players each get two shoes to toss, the first contestant tossing both before her opponent goes. Any part of a shoe must be within 6 inches of the stake, or be a “leaner” on the stake, to earn a point. If the second of the player’s shoes is closer to the stake than either of the opponent’s shots, two points are earned. A “ringer” gains three points; two ringers get six. But if each player tosses one ringer (or two apiece), they cancel one another and no points are awarded. Games usually run to 21 points; one must win by two.

Lawn Bowling
Toss a little target ball (jack or kitty) some distance and then roll four larger spheres toward it to see who can end up closer to it. It resembles bocce but with less space restriction. What could be simpler? Participants compete on a manicured grass or synthetic bowling green. Of course, you may play on your lawn at home if you like. Task difficulty varies according to the nature of that surface: flat, convex, or uneven. Points or “shots” are awarded for each player’s bowls that end up closer to the jack than any of the opponent’s bowls. Games usually end at 21 shots.

Marbles
Oh, to be a kid again! The classic child’s game of marbles is called “Ringer”. Two players “lag” for the right to begin the game; they each toss a marble to see whose ends up closer to a wall ten feet away. Then, in the center of a circle (in the dirt or some other playing surface) ten feet in diameter, they arrange 13 marbles in a crossing pattern (7 x 7 counting the one in the middle twice). The first player “knuckles down” at the perimeter of the circle and launches her “shooter” with the goal of knocking one of the target marbles out of the ring. If that is accomplished, she picks up that marble as her prize and shoots again from wherever her shooter marble came to rest. Knock out seven marbles consecutively and you win! But if she fails to “stick” a marble, her opponent knuckles down at the perimeter of the ring and tries his hand at sticking seven consecutive shots. Better yet, if the other player knocks the opponent’s shooter out of the ring, that player claims all of the opponent’s marbles and wins the game. If both shooters remain through the entire game, the winner is the one who knocks the most of the 13 marbles out of the ring. Child’s play? Gee, it sounds challenging! Variations of the game, both outdoor and indoor versions, offer differing difficulties.

Quoits
Quoits? I’ve never heard of it. But ring toss? Ah, that sounds familiar. The gentile versions of this game entail efforts to toss rope or plastic rings to encircle wooden stakes or pins; those are garden, deck, pub, fairground, or indoor quoits. But players of the traditional game of quoits in the United Kingdom throw much more substantial steel rings, 5.5 inches in diameter and weighing 5.5 pounds apiece, at a steel spike (hob, mott, or pin) 11 yards away. Those steel pins protrude 3-4 inches out of the clay pits within which they’re embedded. The U.S. version uses 4-pound quoits aimed at pins that are 7 yards away and extend 4 inches above the dirt or clay pit. Hence, quoits resembles the game of horseshoes.

Shuffleboard
This game looks like curling made easy. Players use cues (cue sticks measuring 6’ 3” or less in length) to slide six-inch-diameter discs down an alley toward a triangular target zone. An official alley is 6 feet wide and 39 feet long, with 6-foot shooting zones behind the scoring triangles at each end. Smaller alleys and table models exist where space is limited. If your opponent has one disc in good scoring position, you may aim to knock it away and leave your own disc there. Any disc ending in the front apex of the triangle earns 10 points; just past that are slightly larger 8-point zones and then larger 7-point zones. Then there is a narrow area called “10 off”, a penalty for sure. It’s a game for all ages, including young and old, in resort areas and on cruise ships. It entails little athletic effort. It does, however, require eye-hand coordination and that elusive quality called “touch”. A willingness to do your opponent dirty may be advantageous, too.

Snooker
Is playing eight-ball or straight pool too tame a game of billiards? Then consider this cue sport using a typical white cue ball along with 21 snooker balls. The object of this pocket billiards game is to sink the 15 red balls, worth one point apiece, along with the yellow (2 points), green (3), brown (4), blue (5), pink (6), and black (7) balls. What a colorful game!

Tiddlywinks
This little indoor game of finesse, contested on a 3 by 6-foot felt mat, involves surprising levels of strategy and a language all its own. Each player uses a plastic squidger disc to flick the small plastic discs, called winks, into a target pot. The game is often contested in teams of two; one pair of partners play with red and blue winks (six of each color), while the other team uses green and yellow winks. If individuals play one another, each commands two colors. One might expect straightforward technique—i.e., aim for the pot and flick your winks into it. But this game of manual dexterity features strategic and tactical planning of offense and defense. For instance, one might squop, or cover an opponent’s wink(s) with one’s own; since a covered wink may not be played by its owner, the victim of a squop may recover by playing the wink atop his own. Winks may end up in small piles. By game’s end, either when time expires (usually about 25 minutes) or someone has potted out all of her winks, players count up their potted and unsquopped winks to determine the higher score. The most tiddlies wins! More could be said about this intriguing game, but one may assume its complexity based on its terms such as blitz, bomb, boondock, bristol, cracker, crud, gromp, lunch, scrunge, and John Lennon memorial shot (a simultaneous boondock which sends a free and squopped wink onto another’s wink). The English Tiddlywinks Association, in conjunction with the North American Tiddlywinks Association, sets the rules and runs the big, often international, tournaments.

Are there additional target games not cited here? Of course there are. Humans have an untiring fascination with, and imagination for, the creation of targets at which to throw, roll, or hit projectiles. Carnival games and backyard fun with Jarts come to mind. People skip stones on watery surfaces, with or without particular end points in sight. What about table games such as air hockey and pinball? Those certainly involve targets and skills such as manual dexterity and quickness; those “crazy flipper fingers” helped make The Who’s Tommy a pinball wizard. Modern-day, fast-paced, point-and-shoot video games demand unblinking attention, visual-motor control, and quick reflexes. Tossing bean bags at holes in wooden ramps makes cornhole a favorite party game. Kicking a hacky sack ball, singly or in groups, keeps you on (and off) your toes. We’ll throw or kick just about anything at whatever target we see.

How for Who?

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to blanket us, its negative aspects far outweighing any fringe benefits from the societal shutdown. Humans are social animals; isolation is unnatural and stressful. Connect with friends and family. But if you are missing that certain someone in your life, here are some thoughts that may apply now and in the future:

As of today we all live in a limited era of social distancing and isolation,
When self-quarantine and broad business closures may cause us to feel desolation.
This heightens the chance that our social-emotional selves may feel uncomfortable gaps;
We hope that restrictions on sociable lifestyles soon will be able to lapse.

A widespread problem for many adults is that they too often feel lonely;
They’re tired of having to work, play, and share life alone and with themselves only.
Divorced, widowed, split or simply with no one with whom you’ve been living together,
We all have a drive to know that while alive, companionship makes most things better.

We know that there are countless folks out there who are in the very same boat,
But how do we meet the soul mate we seek to keep a relationship afloat?
Wherever we travel in our everyday lives, we don’t seem to encounter true love;
So we want to aim at a setting where we’ll find a partner who fits like a glove.

Taverns and pubs are places within which some strangers are likely to meet;
Loosened by drink with a person we might hit the floor to show off dancing feet.
However, beware of the hook-ups and alcohol; is that a good place for a match?
Is a guy or gal who depends on some booze someone whom you consider a catch?

As a counselor I often encounter this issue and try to help out if I can;
Common interest is where I typically start to formulate a good social plan.
What are your hobbies, what do you like to do, and where could you do it with others?
In a group or a troop, a bunch of like souls, you and he/she may find one another.

What if an interesting person could be in a store, the library, museum, or gym?
In such places we improve our odds of good luck to encounter special her or him.
An old-fashioned way, still viable today, a friend could set up a blind date.
Can’t wait? Maybe speed dating could be the source of a person with whom you’d relate.

In this day and age, folks are shopping for their partners via some websites online;
Matching values and traits, with photos and words, you might find a pairing real fine.
And virtual dating may be the only means during our currently forced separation;
Covid-19 rules our lives at the moment, ’til we eventually re-open our nation.

A significant other who’s perfect could be someone who’s difficult to discover.
Yet to “settle” for a mate after just a few dates could cause woe from which you must recover.
Do not give up, continue the search, since we all value intimacy,
But first love yourself, take good care of health, and feel grateful for your privacy.

Individual Differences

Kids Who Are Different

Copyright © 1982 by Digby Wolfe

Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids who don’t always get A’s,
The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers,
And noses that go on for days . . .
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids they call crazy or dumb,
The kids who don’t fit, with the guts and the grit,
Who dance to a different drum . . .
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids with the mischievous streak,
For when they have grown, as history’s shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.

Who Are the Gifted?

by Milton E. Larson

Creative and imaginative people are often not recognized by their contemporaries. In fact, often they are not recognized in school by their teachers either. History is full of illustrations. Consider some of these:

Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.
Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.
Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him, “As a composer, he is hopeless.”
When Thomas Edison was a boy his teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.
F.W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21 but his employers would not let him wait on a customer because he, “didn’t have enough sense.”
A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had, “no good ideas.”
Caruso’s music teacher told him, “You can’t sing, you have no voice at all.”
The director of the Imperial Opera in Vienna told Madame Schumann Heink that she would never be a singer and advised her to buy a sewing machine.
Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.
Wernher von Braun flunked 9th grade algebra.
Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been retired from the Navy as, “unfit for service,” until he flew over both poles.
Louis Pasteur was rated as mediocre in chemistry when he attended the Royal College.
Abraham Lincoln entered the Black Hawk War as a captain and came out as a private.
Louisa May Alcott was told by an editor that she could never write anything that had popular appeal.
Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus.
Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.

Probably these people were identified as low achievers in school or as misfits on their jobs because of problems of relevance.
[Setbacks may be inspirational springboards toward success—e.g., Fred Waring became known as “America’s Singing Master” and “The Man Who Taught America How to Sing” — JW.]

K-9

God and dog are palindromic. Is this just by chance?
Human-canine relations are such divine romance.
Those in the know agree, of course, that dog is man’s best friend,
And women, certainly as well, that statement will defend.

What makes a dog so lovable, devoted, and attached?
There must be something holy in the way that they’re dispatched.
No matter what sins people do, their dogs are so forgiving;
We thank the Almighty for bringing dogs among the living.

Spaniels, hounds, and terriers are uniformly great.
Sporting, herding, working groups are likewise what we rate
As adorable, invaluable, and just so very cute
That we judge whatever breed or mutt we have as such a beaut.

Members of the family, welcome to share our home,
We often bring dogs with us when from the house we roam.
We buy them toys, feed them well, and give them their own bed;
We talk to them as though they understand each word we’ve said.

They guard us with their barks that say that strangers doth approach,
And if they growl or snarl they accept our soft reproach.
They cuddle, snuggle, stare at us with hope they’ll feel our touch;
No wonder that they’re animals that win our hearts so much.

Dogs love to walk, they take us out, with freedom or on leash;
They try so hard to please they’ll even eat leftover quiche.
They lead us out for exercise, they learn our goofy tricks
Which they’ll do for treats or simply as a way to get their kicks.

They cost us money for the vet and endless appetite;
We worry ‘bout them here or there, whether day or night.
We often wish that dogs could only have a longer life
Since their passing is a source of stress and everlasting strife.

If you like good company that gushes toward you love,
Get a dog, or two or three, who knows what is enough?
Train, honor, and care for dogs with all that you can give;
The trade-offs will be wonderful as long as they shall live.

Stuck and Moving

How can I write something interesting and meaningful for my blog when we humans of the world feel mired in a bog, our vision obscured as though in fog? As a psychologist, I want to post a message that could help, but all I want to do is yelp! We’d like to bring down the curtain on feeling so uncertain. We feel so dour in the absence of a sense of power. In the political and medical authority figures we feel that we must convey trust, whether or not we think they’re fair and just. We must embrace this ongoing death threat at the same time that many individuals and businesses are sinking into deep debt. We want to stay safe, but the restrictions chafe. It’s so hard to stay patient with the status quo when we’re in the dark, out of the know. However . . .

Articles of advice have popped up in all sorts of publications. The suggestions have validity and worthwhile applications. We can cope. There is hope. Although the larger circumstance, the Coronavirus, rages beyond our reach, we can maintain a sense of self-control that it cannot breach. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches that internal and external factors may readily trigger our anxious, fearful, bored, worried, fretful feelings, but need not impede the processes in our heads that can conjure up positive thoughts and healings. If Viktor Frankl could survive a Nazi labor camp by freely regulating his brain, then we can devise positive ideas that help sidetrack us from our down-bound train. Attend to the present tenses and embrace the five senses. Tell the body to move to escape a monotonous groove. Though our restricted lifestyles deserve no superlatives, we can expand our behavioral repertoires into worthwhile alternatives. Want to get away? Then read, watch, walk, talk, listen, work, and play each day. Have your dog go fetch, with your kids play catch, and give your body a good stretch; if you want to complain, then kvetch. Get tasks done and then have some fun. We may feel alone, but there is always the phone. To our homes and favorite hangouts there’s no inviting, but to friends and relatives we have the option of writing. Our everyday lives may now be severely taxed, yet we still have the internal control to make ourselves relaxed. Be patient, not a patient. Let’s endure ‘til there’s a cure.

Flowing Relationships

Blending

Her life force was strong and resilient, surging ahead relentlessly over whatever twists and turns, ups and downs, stops and starts that lay in her path. In her current state she carried the complex negative and positive experiences of her past, the present wealth of attributes she possessed, and an indomitable spirit endowed with optimistic ambition for her future. Enmeshed within her energetic torrent were the molecules of significant and not-so-important others, their roles and influences intermingling with her personal characteristics in a dancing ebb and flow.

His energy similarly moved along between the boundaries established by his genetic, cultural, societal, and familial tributaries. Exerting himself with certain direction and purpose, yet doing so in a circuitous and ever-changing manner, he carried in his substance myriad aspects of experience along with traits endemic to his particular aqua vita.

When the confluence of these two streams began, they started to merge their energies as they united within one riverbed that proceeded along in the same directions in which their fluids had already been flowing. Dashing over rocky cascades, tumbling down waterfalls, and oozing gently through pools of relative calm, they moved mindful of one another, harmonizing their psyches within their common path. At the same time, however, their homogenization was neither hurried nor complete. Components of their individual identities continued to exist on their own, just as the cool waters of one creek and the warmer waters of another might run alongside the outer banks of their newly common channel, only gradually combining into a lukewarm current down the middle of their freshly formed partnership.

Entities unique to each contributing stream continued to flow along independently at the same time that quantities of their similar contents interdependently sped along the ground over which they flowed. Unlike some waterways that occasionally reached islands that forced them to split into two or more paths, weakening their depth and power into smaller component streams, their river continued to rush and gush forward in one mighty, synergistic course, empowered and enriched by the forces and influences they shared both before and after their union.

Sure, some atoms evaporated as they flowed. Mist came and went. Flotsam and jetsam fell into their broth, carried along for varying distances before being discarded as used debris on patches of relatively high ground. Portions of their individual and shared identities swirled to and fro, apart and together, as conditions warranted. As they cut through old and new territory, they picked up and lofted particles of experiences that either fell out of the flow to form little deltas or continued to be transported within their relentless current. All the while, and most importantly, their watery souls percolated together, blending melodiously as the sounds that only bubbling, tumbling water can make.

And the forecast for their future? They’ll be fluently flowing fluids in fountains and flowers, France and Finland, friends and foes, fingers and toes.

Flow

Growth and prosperity involve movement. Health depends on it. Grow with the flow.

Cosmically, everything is in motion. The universe is expanding, our planet races around the sun, and the Earth spins. Microcosmically, electrons revolve around their nuclei. Cells grow, die, and are replaced. Stagnation is unnatural.

Physically, our circulatory systems keep blood flowing through our bodies, bringing nutrients and removing waste products of metabolism. Blockages and restrictions of blood vessels spell trouble. Our digestive systems similarly depend upon the flow of fluids and foods through the mouth, processing of those substances in a fruitful manner, and elimination of unnecessary ingredients (via defecation, urination, and perspiration). Constrictions or stoppages can cause constipation, dehydration, and perhaps problems as serious as cancer. Go with the flow.

Mentally, we suffer if we cling to past stressors and traumas, material goods, defeatist memories, self-doubts, unhealthy or completed relationships, etc. We may get stuck in bad habits, obsessions, and compulsions. Our minds, on the other hand, experience the stream of consciousness and it is healthy to let the flow go. We may pause to ponder the past and plan for the future, but it is important to move along in the present, accept change, adapt flexibly to varying circumstances, and so on. We find comfort in the known, habit, routine, consistency, yet we seek change and variety.

In sports, zoning or being in a state of flow means to be engrossed in the process, focused on performance keys, without freezing the action long enough to engage in evaluation (by self or others). Stay in gear, moving in sync with the activity. Let audience reactions, inner judgment, and scorekeeping pass until you have finished your performance. All athletics present challenges. You may need to memorize lengthy and complicated routines that are susceptible to internal and/or external distractions (i.e., intrusive thoughts and visual/auditory stimuli). Relaxed concentration is the ideal state of mind and body to enable you to let go of distractions quickly and continue to flow smoothly. Trust your training. Stay mindful of the here and now.

• Aikido: Let your ki flow; blend with force; embrace self-trust; meditate in motion.
• Taoism: Yin-yang, ebb & flow, cyclical change; anchored, centered movement.
• Psychology: Flow = match between skill and challenge, ability and difficulty.
• Mental state: Stream of consciousness; inner speech and imagery consistent with temperament, personality, and environmental experiences.
• Hesse/Siddhartha: The cycle of life/nature is structured, directed, a blend of fate and learning; life is like a river, flowing within boundaries with circumstances in flux.
• Sport psychology: Flow states = absorbed in activity, sans evaluation; avoid paralysis by analysis; just do it!

How now Coronavirus?

Put Coronavirus to Work For You!

–Do you feel that handshaking is overdone? Maybe you dislike the feel of clammy palms, tension too weak or strong, or a “miss” that squeezes your fingers. Perhaps you dislike high-fives with their occasional slaps of pain. Well, then take comfort in elbow bumps or cordial bows with others.
–Do you feel that your hand-to-face gestures have been overdone for years? Have you too often found your eyes, nose, and itches irresistible to your touch? Then it’s time for more self-awareness and greater self-restraint. Resist the impulses and keep your hands clear of your face. Splash your face with water or use a sleeve, cloth, or tissue to address your urges.
–Perhaps you have always engaged in hand-washing a little too often, at the level of OCD. Well, now you may indulge that drive with hand scrubs as often as you like!
–Maybe you’re not a “touchy-feely” person. You find hugging to be too frequently expected and mildly uncomfortable. You may now feel free to keep your distance from others without seeming rude or standoffish.
–Big crowds can feel unsettling. There’s a little “wallflower” in all of us. Well, it’s time to emphasize private over public life. Be a homebody. Indulge in more, rather than less, screen time. Let electronic communication rule over face-to-face contact.
–Vacation travel can be wonderful and refreshing. But it can also be expensive, time-consuming, and wasteful. It’s stressful to research and commit to travel reservations. Choosing what and how to pack can be a hassle. Air travel is fraught with long lines, the nuisance of TSA, nauseating turbulence, seat discomfort, and fears of infection. Stay home! Visit other places with the aid of movies, TV, videos, books, photographs, and your imagination.
–What is the status of your home to-do list? Do you wish you had more time for chores, to catch up with some overdue tasks? Self-quarantine may provide you the time to overcome procrastination, get things done, assuage your guilt, and improve the quality of your home life.
–You might be a “sports nut”. You spend too much time whiling away hours attending sporting events or viewing them on TV. Well, not to worry. Nearly every major sporting event, pro or amateur, has been put on hold indefinitely. It’s time to roll out some home repairs, exercises, and/or worthwhile hobbies as substitutes and worthy uses of your time and energy.
–Stock markets and businesses worldwide are crashing. The coronavirus is running amok and wrecking the economy in many ways. So, buy low. It might be a good time to invest in stocks and mutual funds at bargain prices.
–What if you have the misfortune of contracting a COVID-19 infection? Most people have mild symptoms that are readily defeated by the immune system. The antibodies thereby generated subsequently give you immunity from the disease in the future!
–As Alfred E. Neuman always said in Mad, “What, me worry?”.

Ugh!

It’s not that there’s merely a fungus among us.
Instead there is a coronavirus to tire us.
It’s not simply some humdrum bacteria
To pick up in the local cafeteria.
This is a serious and dangerous germ
That’s severe enough to make us squirm.
Due to a pandemic that can easily spread,
We strive to be cautious to stay safe, not dead.

Our immune systems function best when we are relaxed,
Whereas hysteria and panic make us feel overtaxed.
While it’s hard to keep up with news we should know,
It’s best to chill out and just go with the flow.
It’s better to breathe than to hold onto one’s breath,
Lack of oxygen’s being a sure way toward death.
From people and events we feel tempted to scurry,
But instead remain calm, best to defuse your worry.

Make a Splash!

I’m Dr. Jim and I think that this whim will not dangle me out on a limb
Since I just want to share some valid reasons why I just plain love to swim.
It’s whole-body exercise, sure, and for some ailments it might be a cure,
But beyond that immersion is healthy, and can make your mind and body purr.
We live life in air, and I like it in there, but a wet world brings me to my senses
I forget my past frets, and worries of the future, and bask instead in present tenses.
Sounds are distorted, bad thoughts are aborted, and the water reshapes my vision;
Buoyancy grabs me, I feel waves and ripples, and I float above my self-derision.

Most of my life I have swum in a pool, a self-contained structure with water that’s clear;
There are chemicals to defuse the kids’ pee and drool, lessening my infection fear.
Lap swimming is what I like best, but admit that monotony gets in my way,
So I swim crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, a bit of butterfly each day,
And add sidestroke, surface dives, flip turns, kicking, and even some corkscrew
Along with some use of hand paddles, swim fins, and a pull buoy, too.
Mindful of bubbles, breathing side-to-side, seeing the bottom or ceiling en route,
I focus on form to feel aquadynamic, ‘bout speed and appearance I do not give a hoot.

I know I could drown with just one misjudged breath
But the joy of immersion outweighs any fear of death.

Have I always restricted myself to the relative safety of a swimming pool?
Heck, no, I love water parks and aquatic play in many other waters cool.
Countless times I have swum in a lake, where no man-eating creatures can cause me to shake.
With a boat nearby, from a dock or a beach, it feels good to swim, even in a ship’s wake.
Some stuff in a river could be bad for my liver, but a gentle flow is so inviting,
And a slippery stone in a fast-moving stream makes a slide there relaxed yet exciting.
For most people the ocean is best place of all, and I have indulged in the seas,
So next I will describe a bit of those times, so wade in my dear friends if you please.

I approach the shore of a wide, sandy beach, and reflexively break into a dash,
Slipping in the dry sand, gaining traction in wet, and landing in a splendid splash.
This water is different, with its salty taste, and the ease with which I can float
On my back, heavy legs now are out straight ahead, just like a bodily boat.
Buoyantly bobbing in the little waves, the weightlessness feels so sublime
That I stare at the sky with its clouds and seabirds, and may totally lose track of time.
Bigger waves entice me to do body surfing, trying to catch waves just right,
But sometimes they tumble me down into the sand, when I misjudge shape and height.

The best place I’ve swum, idyllic it was, ideal water then to be in,
Was in distant Tobago, calm and warm sea, known as the Caribbean.
Aquatic life teemed so close to the shore that some fish swam right there at my feet,
With mask, fins, and snorkel I entered the water and found myself in for a treat.
I know not to touch anything down below, ‘cause fragile is every reef
But surface dives bring closer amazing sights, with colors that defy belief.
Fortunately, sharks are uncommon there, keeping my fear level low,
And I heartily recommend to every swimmer that snorkeling’s a great way to go.

The welcome wet wonders of water are also worthwhile to share
With family or friend, there is no end to enjoyment to be had in there.
Play catch with a water ball, try water polo, and frisbee is great at the beach;
Play “Sharks and Minnows” in deep end of pool, but keep your oxygen in reach.
Swimming and diving teams keep you in shape, competing is healthy for you.
Don’t limit yourself to immersion; try kayaking and canoe, too.
You need not live with the Aquarius sign to be a water nut like me.
We’re all wet on Earth, both inside and out, so go soak yourself in the sea.

Rhyme Time II

Welsh Relish (01/29/20)

I’m living for months here in Cardiff, Wales,
Learning Welsh language and literate tales.
The rain and the gales
O’er the riverside trails
Pale the travails and whatever my ails.

So into the pubs with their lagers and ales
My mate and I walk where we settle our tails.
The rugby guy wails
As his try to score fails
And our pub crawl continues over hills and dales.

An Orange Lament (02/02/2020)

It’s hard to be a devout Syracuse fan
For football and basketball games,
And yet I have been one from boyhood to man,
Ev’n memorized most players’ names.
Each team has been champion but once in my life,
For them there’s not repeated fame;
To root for those boys causes me naught but strife
As each season outcome is too lame.

For the Orange there is no rhyme sublime,
To cheer for them leads one to gloom.
They’re just a bunch of unknown college guys
Who have never visited my room.
There’s no reason to care for their fates on the court,
On the football field they just meet doom;
As season records go seldom do they shine
Their legacy lies in a tomb.

A Political View? (02/06/20)

There is a young man named Farouk
Who behaved like something of a kook
He decided to vote
For a boat not afloat
For his ship that’s come in he mistook.

He could see the bipartisanship
That was robbing him blind at a clip
He supported a man
Who deserved to be banned
He’s mistaken to shoot from the hip.

Our world may be perceived as a topsy-turvy mess;
I’m disturbed at our prospects I must surely confess.
Most humans are kind and nice ‘cross the wide world
Yet at one another epithets are oft’ hurled.
“Make war, not love” is what our leaders profess
And their personal lives o’erflow with sins they express
We exaggerate powers of flags we’ve unfurled
With our values helter-skelter as by wind they’re twirled.