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A World Gone Mad

I live in Utah, but I also live in Utah county. It’s home to my town of Pleasant Grove, and Provo, home of BYU. There are many smaller towns as wel. Just north of Utah county is Salt Lake county. Not surprisingly, the largest city in Salt Lake County is Salt Lake City. It’s possible the early pioneers lacked a little imagination when they named some of our counties.

Utah and Salt Lake counties just announced they were banning all gatherings of 10 or more people. Not only did they ban it, they announcced it was a class B misdemeanor.

The world really has gone mad.

Fortunately, the governor overruled it when he heard about it. No, no crime for having too many people over for Sunday dinner. Apparently the health departments got a little bit out over their skis.

But, in New Jersey today a man was arrested for holding a “pop up” wedding with 50 guests. He really did go to jail for too many people getting together.

A world gone mad.

Italy is on lock down. They’ve had thousands of deaths. And the “social distancing” rules prevent them even from coming together to bury their dead.

Today the world is pulling together to battle an enemy unlike anything we’ve seen in 100 years. Everyone recognizes the importance of “social distancing” and “sheltering in place.” We’ve accepted that sports are cancelled. Schools are cancelled. Church services are cancelled. Nearly everything is cancelled.

But, what happens when we get tired of it? What happens next week, next month? How long can we live in a locked down society? How long can we keep our distance from one another? How long can we go without the bread and circuses? How long can we avoid funerals and how long are we willing to be arrested for holding weddings?

How long?

How long can we endure in a world gone mad?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Importance Of Doing Nothing

Well, what shall we do?


It’s awfully hard work doing nothing. However, I don’t mind hard work when there is no definite object of any kind.
– The Importance of Being Earnest Act 1

What do you remember from high school? Of course, it’s possible you are still high school, or even earlier grades. But, I tend to think that most people are like me. It’s a terrible habit for a writer. I went to high school a very long time ago.

My high school will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a couple of months. I graduated more toward the beginning of the school’s existance than the semicentennial.

I was planning to go back to Washington State for the party. One of my best friends graduated the year after I did. I haven’t seen him in years. He was going to be there.

Now with the travel restrictions, I’ve reconsidered. But, I’m wandering off topic.

My senior year of high school I took drama for the first time. I enjoyed it. In fact, I think I might have liked it a lot had I started earlier and stayed at it as a career. That’s what my friend did. But, this isn’t really about him.

Of the many thousands of facts, reports and presentations I made in high school I did a brief part in the play The Importance Of Being Earnest. We didn’t do the entire play. At least I don’t think so. But, I did the scene above. I was Algernon, the one not minding hard work if there’s no definite object.

It’s stuck with me through the years. I was thinking about it today.

Do you know what didn’t happen today?

There was no baseball played today. In fairness, if the schedule hadn’t caught a virus, Spring Training would have wrapped up a week ago. We would be in the downtime between the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season next week. So, there would be no baseball today anyway. But, that doesn’t change the fact that there was in fact no baseball today.

You know what else didn’t happen today?

There was no basketball played today. Today would have been a big day for basketball. We’d be getting to watch the end of the first round of the NCAA tournament.

My daughter was very disappointed that they cancelled the tournament. She’s a freshman at BYU. The Y had a good year. They got a six seed in the tournament. In fact, just a few weeks ago they beat Gonzaga in Provo. Gonzaga was ranked 2nd in the country at the time.

I explained that as a long time BYU fan, her disappointment was justified, but misplaced. See, BYU does terrible in the NCAA tournament. If you fill out a bracket, it’s impossible to be true to your school if you are a Cougar fan. Of course, you have to pick BYU in the first round out of loyalty. But, you’re allowed to pick them to lose in the second round. (They rarely disappoint.)

But, if they are a lower seed, and you pick them to win in the first round, you knock a top seed out of the bracket early. And your bracket is busted.

So, you were going to be disappointed in BYU basketball this year anyway, but you’re just getting it a little early.

But, there’s no NCAA tournament this year.

No NBA either. Today there were five games scheduled. The Utah Jazz were scheduled to be off today. They were scheduled to play tomorrow. But, then, they are off tomorrow also. No, nothing happening in the NBA.

There’s no high school sports either of course. The building looks nearly deserted. The kids can’t stand the thought of losing a season. My son is running with the track team. He doesn’t like track, but he figures it’s a good preparation for football. He’s a senior next year. He started on the sophomore team. Then, on the JV team last fall. And he had high hopes for making the Varsity this fall.

He can’t stand the thought that his season might be wiped out. All the kids are worried. With the school restrictions the coaches aren’t allowed to be there. So, the kids run anyway. Desparate to keep up the routine.

All our routines have changed. I have a house full of students now. Two college kids taking online classes and the aforementioned high school junior also dutifully logging in for online instruction for a couple of hours every day.

Mostly though, he. . .they, are doing their best to fill the days. We have a lot of kids in the neighborhood, but there’s a slight suspicion to mingling even with close friends.

We had someone in church recently diagnosed with the virus. He hasn’t been in church for the past four weeks, so none of us got exposed. But, the circle is closing in.

The first case in Utah was a man who attended that Gonzago BYU game a few weeks ago. My daughter wanted to attend that game, but opted to come watch it at our house instead. Close call.

Only a couple of degrees separation, but closer than comfort.

So, like the character I played all those years ago in the play, we will continue the hard work of doing nothing.

It beats the alternative at this point.

What are you doing to fill the days?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

My Disaster Is Better Than Yours

I live 350 miles from a volcano that might kill me any day. It would probably kill you to, but I’ll be dead first. (Yay, I win the race to death! Sorry, a little dark humor.)

Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place. It has some of the world’s most interesting and unique natural wonders, geysers and hot springs, rivers that run near boiling hot that mix with the near freezing runoff from melting snowpack.

But, the engine that fuels this mixing pot of nature is a volcano. Not just any volcano, one of the world’s 20 supervolcanoes. Supervolcanoes erupt once every 100,000 years on average. But, when they do it’s life changing. . .for the entire world. But, if Yellowstone goes, I won’t be much interested in the nuclear winter that follows it.

I’ll be dead.

Oh, it’s not a prospect I look forward to, of course. But, there’s not much I can do about it. And since it’s not something I can change, I don’t spent too much time worrying about it.

There was an earthquake in Utah today. It was big as far as Utah goes. It was 5.7 on the Richter scale. The most powerful earthquake in 30 years. By the way, Yellowstone’s eventual explosion will be preceeded by earthquakes.

But even without the world destroying prospect of a supervolcano, Utah is at risk for earthquakes. We sit on a fault line that runs all up and down the Wasatch front. Like most major fault lines, it intersects with multiple smaller fault lines. We don’t mind the fault lines. We walk over them, drive over them, build our houses next to them and generally ignore them until an event like today reminds us.

One of those faults slipped today. It was 7:09AM. I was already at work in my home office on a call with our office in North Carolina. The room started to shake and then it kept shaking. Fifteen seconds is a long time when it feels like someone is shaking your house from its foundation.

Where I’m at there was no damage. Some building in Salt Lake City had minor damage and a lot of houses in the Magna area south of Salt Lake City had broken pictures, mirrors, and dishes.

Later in the day I had a call with my team in Florida. They were naturally interested in the details about the earthquake. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a native Floridian last time I was there. Hurricane Dorian, was bearing down on Florida’s West coast and I was scheduled to fly out just before the storm.

Many people were stocking up, or getting out. Hank wasn’t too worried.

I’ve lived my entire life in Florida so Hurricanes don’t scare me.

Don’t you worry about flooding?

Nah, my house is not in a flood plain.

You don’t think the wind will damage it?

No. I’m quite a few miles from the coast, so unless we are hit straight on, it’ll be alright.

Well, I think it would worry me.

Actually, I prefer hurricanes.


Sure, think about it. A tornado may only give you a few minutes warning and everyone is equally at risk. An earthquake gives you even less warning and more risk. But, a hurricane? You get a couple of weeks’ warning and you can better prepare. Hurricane’s are the best disasters to deal with.

I had never thought of it that way. And I realized he hadn’t even mentioned supervolanoes.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Have Been To The Desert And Drunk From The Empty Sea

I visited a wasteland today. It was sad really. I remember when it was a teeming oasis. But, tonight it was sad and empty. Forelorn in the memory of what it once was.

I’ve avoided going shopping for the past week. My lovely wife and I made a trip to a local store last week before the craziness started. A local store holds an annual “case lot” sale. The store stocks huge cases of soups, vegetagles, pasta, just abou tanything you can think of. And they mark it all on sale.

We go to the Macey’s Case Lot sale every year. This year I felt guilty. We only have a few kids left at home. But, still pushing two carts loaded with cases of soup, mushrooms and olives, I felt just a little self conscious. But, the entire store was full of people doing the same.

I haven’t been to a grocery store since then. Until today. Our local WalMart used to be open 24×7. Recently they started closing from 1:00AM to 6:00AM. During the current crisis they have cut back even more. They now close at 11:00PM. At ten tonight my lovely wife asked if I wouldn’t mind going to pick a few things. Not anything crazy.

Almond milk
ramen noodles
fresh fruit and vegetables
Gluten-free flour

The store wasn’t crowded. In fact, the parking lot didn’t look too different from a Tuesday night at 10:00pm. But, once inside the scene changed. Entire shelves were completely bare. The only way to know what had been there was to look at the price tags.

Surprisingly there were plenty of bananas, a favorite of our family. And while the potatoes were mostly gone, there was plenty of other fruits and vegetables. I got some baby carrots and grapes.

My luck took a turn for the worse after that. No rice. No flour. I couldn’t even find the shelf where the ramen noodles used to be. I found a few bags of sugar.

There was plenty of eggs, but not a trace of milk. A couple of bottles of chocolate milk, but that was it. As I was headed for the checkout line, I noticed a pallet of unopened boxes waiting to be stocked. I noticed one was marked “Gluten-free flour.”

They won’t need to open that particular box.

We’ve all been affected by what’s happened. But, those who are worried about food are some of the most affected. The crazy thing is that the current situation shouldn’t be life threatening for most people. 98% of the people that get sick are going to get better.

They are descent odds, if still frightening. Those who are already at risk are the most fragile.

My family happens to have some who are the most fragile. But, don’t worry about us. The trip to the store was mostly for niceties, not necessities. We have fortunately been able to plan for a rainy day.

We have food that we’ve prepared and stored.

We also have plenty of canned goods.

There’s bags of food that we can cook.

Plenty of five gallon buckets full of staples.

And bags of wheat because. . .it’s a requirement. Maybe we’ll eat it when the rest of food is gone.

And of course, the most important storage item of all.

May your family be blessed and have sufficient food and toilet paper during this trying time.

And if you can avoid it, stay away from the wastelands.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

On Fences And Neighbors

It’s for my grandkids. The oldest is six years old. The youngest is barely crawling. The others are somewhere in between. And they want to play outside when they come to Grammy and Papa’s house.

We have a nice backyard. But, we also live on two corners. Roads run along the South, West and North side of my house. The roads aren’t busy, but they are travelled on at all hours.

One child you can keep out of traffic. Two can head in opposite directions. Three are impossible to keep corraled. We finally decided to install a fence.

It’s not an action taken lightly. And if forces you to talk to your neighbors. I have two neighbors. They both already have fences. And their fences tie to each other.

Fortunately, I get along well with my nieghbors. One is my son’s football coach. I was an assistant when he was Scoutmaster. I don’t know when the former scoutmaster built his fence, but the football coach built his fence just a couple of years ago.

We have always been a family who did stuff for ourself. Even if we didn’t know exactly how. That has become much easier since Youtube became a thing. So, naturally, when it came time to put up a fence, we decided to do it ourselves. After all, how hard could it be?

And that’s what we did. We bought the panels and the posts at Home Depot along with a post-hole digger. And we started digging holes. Oh, we had to work with the football coach to make sure we were placing our fence right on the property line. It’s not that either one of us cares much about a few inches either way, but we both have sprinkler systems. And we had to make sure the fence posts threaded the needle between the two without breaking any lines.

I didn’t do it exactly right on the first post. I had to figure out how to remove panels that turned out to be slightly off plum. And I did it twice.

We are about 2/3 complete. Most of the panels are in. We have the gates to build and install, one more post-hole to dig and a couple more panels.

My neighbors were slightly shocked. They only installed their fence because they got a dog. They laughed that it turned out to be an expensive dog when you counted the cost of the fence. They paid a fencing company to install it.

Building a fence isn’t cheap. Even when you do the work yourself. vinyl fencing adds value to your house because the fence itself has value. Our fence is the “privacy” style. It’s six feet high and the panels are eight feet long. They are solid. It’s the fence we wanted to give our grandkids privacy. when they are outside playing.

My neighbor installed a four foot tall slated fence. He did it to try to maintain a feeling of openness. And I can sympathize. Utah, especially the area I live in is exceptionally beautiful. To the North and East the Wasatch Mountains rise 8,000 feet above the valley floor. To the West the valley stretches out until it meets teh shores of Utah Lake. On the other side the Oquirrh Mountains rise, more gentle and rounded but equally beautiful.

Our backyard fence only cuts down a little of our views.

Still, it’s allowed me to draw closer to my neighbors. And, it’s important after all, for our grandkids.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

All Corona All The Time

Every story.

Every post.

Every comment.

Every newscast.

Yep, wall to wall coverage. My son spent the night at a friend’s house. They are both a couple of years out of school and preparing to serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So, you spent the night at Tony’s house?

Yeah, we were up pretty late.

What were you doing?

Watching videos about the virus.

I tried to explain that’s not healthy. In 2001 after the September 11 attack, the news was, naturally, saturated with coverage of the attacks. We later found out that it wasn’t healthy, especially for young kids.

Was it kind of scary?

Yes. The airplanes hit the buildings. . .over and over again.

And today the virus hit my company. Oh no, not physically, fortunately. But, we are a telecommunication company. While some of our clients in the past had work from home (WAHA) agents, now every client wants a WAHA strategy. And they want it soon. I mean immediately. I mean they want it yesterday. Or maybe last week.

We are living in a crazy time. We started our WAHA project as a proof-of-concept project on Monday. Today, Friday, we are to the point of planning implementations and we have a queue of clients waiting their turn to get moved to a WAHA strategy.

Because the project, like the virus, as escalated so quickly, it has consumed all our people, all of our resources and all of our time. We now have all day meetings scheduled. They have no published agenda, just a list of clients.

Do this client first. As soon as you’re done move on to this next client. Rinse and repeat all day long. Repeat again tomorrow.

You mean Saturday?

Of course. And the day after that. And repeat until complete.

It’s funny, really. The church has cancelled all services and gatherings. The schools just announced they are closing for two weeks. Businesses are implementing work from home. And instead of slowing down, my job is speeding up.

In fact, I’m headed into the office tomorrow. Not even working from home on a Saturday. We need to test the configuration for our client and that’s got to be done in person.

Stay safe. But, if you can, turn off the TV. Log out of the computer. Watching the virus coverage 24×7 isn’t healthy.

As for me? I’ll be headed into a building full of hundreds of agents to focus on the virus.

Definitely not healthy.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Not What I Signed Up For

May you live in interesting times
– Chinese Proverb

You’ve probably heard this expression before. Maybe you’ve even felt like you were living in the interesting times. The phrase is never considered a blessing. It is considered a curse.

We are currently living through an event unprecedented in our lifetimes. We are on the cusp of a potential worldwide pandemic that could change life as we know it. The virus came from China. We don’t really know much more than that. And the Chinese are not known for being particularly forthcoming.

Will the virus be overblown? Another “potential pandemic” that is easily contained and quickly forgotten? Or, will we be telling our grandchildren about the 2020, the year the pandemic hit?

The ironic thing about the “Chinese” proverb? It’s probably not even Chinese. It has become a phrase embraced by the world.

But, the virus was definitely Chinese. But, it has also come to belong to the world.

Be safe out there my friends. The times are interesting and we’re here.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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