The Plague-Ground – Librarians are first-responders

No other public library system in the world is bigger and busier than Toronto’s. Not New York. Not London. Us. Nearly 70 per cent of Torontonians use the Toronto Public Library. During the pandemic, with every one of its 100 branches…

The Plague-Ground – Are you rich?

I’ve always wanted to write a fund-raising appeal that starts with that question. You have money. We need money. Give it to us. Please. What this lacks in subtlety it makes up in reality: rich people have more of the very thing you need…

The Plague-Ground – Dying online

Last month, The New York Times reported on the rise of abortions by telemedicine. A doctor assesses the woman online. Then, if she is ‘approved’, she is mailed some pills. One thing driving this is a clampdown by Trump faithful and conservative…

The Plague-Ground – Travel to a new world. No cost. No waiting. Satisfaction guaranteed.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to spend a day exploring a part of the world that billions of us visit every day, that’s completely transformed pretty much everything in our lives – and didn’t exist until 1990. That place…

The Plague-Ground – “Some day, you will screw up royally. In public. Then what will you do?”

Commencement Speech season started this weekend with Barack Obama delivering two of them online: one to high school students and one to the graduates of historically-black colleges, where he said: “More than anything, this pandemic has…

The Plague-Ground – Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length

When I was half my age, I used to believe that idea from Robert Frost. Now, I’m more into the “in length” part of life’s cycle. But I was reminded twice yesterday how the world can change long before it enters us. I was on the…

The Plague-Ground – A bureaucratic miracle

When was the last time you saw those three words in a sentence? Applied to Ottawa? In a pandemic? Exactly. Our expectation of speedy service from any government, let alone the Feds, is so low that anything short of craven indifference…

The Plague-Ground – “In Spain people are renting out their dogs for walking.”

I heard this from Heather Ross who was speculating why fewer people seem to be having heart attacks during the pandemic than before. Maybe it’s because we exercise, get more sleep, spend more time with our families and less time getting…

The Plague-Ground – “My Name’s Bob and I’m an…”

Thirty years ago today, I left Talbott Recovery Center in Atlanta where I’d been in treatment for four months for cocaine addiction. I flew home to Toronto where Jean met me at the airport and took me directly to the plot of land on Georgian…

The Plague-Ground – When is a nurse worth more than a baseball player?

Yesterday, I tripped over one of those New Yorker articles that snatches you and carries you into the black holes of a subject you knew absolutely nothing about. It then pops you to the surface 30 minutes later gasping at the bizarre and amazing…

The Plague-Ground – I See What You Say

I’ve noticed something odd in my Zoom calls, and maybe you have too. It’s that they sound better when the video is Off than when it’s On. By this I mean the experience is richer and more ‘real’. This may not be as true when there…

The Plague-Ground – Is a pandemic a good time to have an affair?

No, and for three reasons: it’s hard to get together,  and even if you do, you’ll likely get caught. What’s more, if you get caught and get thrown out of the house, where exactly will you go? But I ask because affairs generally unravel…

The Plague-Ground – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I wouldn't want to be an airline these days. Even more, I wouldn’t want to be an airline passenger. Those long waits to go through security will feel like recess compared to the technology that will save us from infecting each other before,…

The Plague-Ground: Daddy, tell me the one about the virus again.

Like you, I’m growing numb to the torrent of advice about how the world can/will/must change after the fog lifts.  Looking at pictures then and now of Venice with its pristine canals and Delhi with its crystal-clear air, makes me…

The Plague-Ground: We’re not all in the same boat. But we are all in the same storm.

On the weekend, Spain redefined the meaning of stay-cation by letting its people leave their homes - but go no further than a kilometre from them.  Such is the nature of travel these days. But that will all change once we have the all-clear, and a…

The Plague-Ground – If you’re feeling anxious, join the herd

The pandemic has taught me you don’t have to be facing a fist or a pistol in order to feel threatened. You don’t have to face eviction or lose your job or your clients. You don't even have to be on a respirator, or just be old. All you…

The Plague-Ground – “If I had but one word to delete….”

It’s only April and already we know what the Word of the Year will be: “Coronavirus.” It was first coined in 1968, but no one outside the world of science had heard of it until January, and now, like the pandemic it describes, it’s…

The Plague-Ground – I didn’t say I hate America

I didn't say I hate Americans. I didn't even say I hate America’s institutions. All I said in yesterday’s blog was that it’s time Americans stopped viewing themselves as the best nation on earth, and that we Canadians could help them…