#981. Friday Post (20 March 2020) – The Write of Spring

By pascaljappy | Art & Creativity

Mar 20

Primavera is upon us. That First Spring is an occasion to celebrate new life, and is particularly relevant on a planet where death counts constitute the main news, day after day, and will likely continue throughout the season. It’s hard for you, it’s hard for me. But it’s easier together. We’re fighting back.


Help will not come from the top, but from the side.

First, acknowledge your government is lying to you. How do I know? They’re all saying something different (scientists, however, have a more united speech that we can turn to for reliable information). The most liberal among them are apparently willing to sacrifice millions of lives to support their biased worldviews. It is only the work of scientists that is keeping them in line.

Secondly, never forget we’re in this together. However low, isolated or worried you are feeling, you are not alone. People are thinking about you. People are there to help, if only morally. Communities are the solution. For the past few years, I’ve been promoting community building as the backbone of my marketing consultancy to clients who’d far prefer I shut up and just do PPC like the rest of the world. I tried to build a company around the concept and failed. But I’m right. And let me tell you what I’ve witnessed these past few days. Woefully underequipped doctors and nurses self-organising around this epidemic and putting in place robust systems with an extraordinary efficiency that top-down organisations could only dream of. Never in my life have I seen the future unfold with such clarity. The contrast between scared isolated animals stealing masks or fighting over bumff and trailblazing self-organized communities with a common purpose has never been more striking. When the business world finally catches on to this, today’s large dinosaurs will tumble in a matter of months. But, closer to us, find yourself a community. Heck several communities. Be that a print club, a church, DS, a soup kitchen, a charity, a book club, a group of friends … The Internet is still up, don’t stay alone. Ever.

A frozen puddle makes patterns like a first and a foot. Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 ZM and Sony A7r

Feeling low and vulnerable? Help others.

Helping others helps you tremendously. The past few days have been tough on me. My kids are in another country, with a government that-has-no-clue-and-doesn’t-care begrudgingly leading the charge. My parents are hundreds of miles away. My grand parents, nearing 100, are ultra vulnerable, alone at home (with visiting nurses) and we’re not allowed to visit or help. My wife is sent to the front lines every morning with inadequate protection, while I stay at home like a lump of rock wondering how many of my loved ones will be around by the time all of this recedes. My friends are in trouble, worrying about their jobs, also worrying for their families. Humans everywhere seem to retreat further into their animal origins every day, either fighting over bogroll or in selfish denial. But just starting this post has made me feel so much better. It’s a tiny help to a tiny number of people, but it’s a start. Helping others fights the fear. No, it kills the fear, stops it instantly.

Fuck off fear, I’m still standing.

Really wanna help? Stay home.

Imperial College recently released projections for the UK epidemic. Do nothing (as buffoons-in-chief Bojo and Trump initially suggested) : 400 000 dead in the UK (2.2 million in the US). Social distancing: about half those numbers. Confinement (as in France or Italy) : around 15 000 (which is still tragic, but is 25 times better). 80% of infected people don’t develop symptoms but are contagious. You could be carrying it, right now, and never know. Except for work and vital necessities: Stay home.

You have masks and gel? Donate them to doctors and hospitals. You don’t need either at home.

In his most famous speech, Winston Churchill declared “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”. This time is different. While tragedy is already upon thousands of family, this epidemic also offers us the choice of “Dignity, friendship, support and progress” . I’ll drink to that (I’ll also shut up and leave you with two much funner gentlemen ๐Ÿ™‚ )


The (con)fine art challenge (Pascal Ollier)


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

You have had it a bit too easy on Dear Susan with your past contributions, using pictures taken much earlier than your posts, for example, and the DS steering committee has thus decided to enforce some more stringent rules before allowing publishing ๐Ÿ˜‰

More seriously, most of us if not all are on government house arrest, possibly twiddling our thumbs and being maybe somewhat startled if not depressed. Remember that DS is like Asterix’s village: totally resistant to gloom.

Looking outside

I am therefore proposing the following extra ordinary challenge : come up with pictures taken from your current confinement location, inside or outside, at your leisure.

They can be arty (flowers), humorous (like your neighbor’s toilet paper reserves overflowing) or whatever else. Like any picture you might wish to receive from a friend to cheer you up when you are up the creek.

So, what is the best photograph you can make from your confined state ? Send your pics by the end of the month to pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com (1000 – 2000 px long side jpeg) and let’s have fun in spite of the conditions. Normal challenge sequence (Bayhem, RAW, Polished) will resume after this ๐Ÿ™‚


It’s a wonderful world (Philber)


Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. This common sentence is often attributed to the Bible, but wrongly so. For the Bible is not a celebration of death (we will all end up dead) but of life. For believers, eternal life, even.


This is my metaphor for this chapter – a dramatic one- of our lives. We will not all end up dead. Fewer than 2% maybe. And, even so, while it is a terribly cynical thought, Covid-19 strikes at the already enfeebled. But, as La Fontaine said in his fable The animals sick of the plague : “they died not all, but all were sick”.

Emerging life….

Our sickness, the one that strikes not 2% of the population, but 98%, is fear. This is why I choose not to talk about the 2%, but the 98%, and to say: there will be a day after. In effect, I am already seeing the premises and promises of the day after. The early signs of life on trees and shrubs. There will be life, in all its glory. Rejoice!

Glorious life…

Besides, us ‘togs are a resilient community. We document the world’s horrors and miseries, but we do not become part of them. We also document the world’s pleasures and beauties. And, should the worst happen, how do we remember our loved ones? With photographs, that’s how. With our pictures, we bring solace, and sweet memories. We help the world remember, so that we all may move on to a new era. A better one, where the mistakes and follies of the past will not be repeated. And where nature will blossom anew, ignorant of human struggle, impervious to time, willing to be dust in a few weeks because it knows what we have trouble understanding, that there will be a day after, a week after, a month after…

Flurry of life…

And there will be pictures to be made, and the soft sound of a good shutter.

A touch of life…

Stay safe, practice and hone your skills, we need to be ready when again we can roam the world. These pictures have all been made in strict conformance within the boundaries of confinement. There will be a tomorrow.

Life in the sun… life beckons…

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  • Lad says:

    These are inspiring words in a world of gloom, from all three of you, along with lovely photos that demonstrate (as if we needed demonstration) that photos are lurking everywhere. Thank you for all this! We shall continue: read Maya Angelouโ€™s โ€œContinueโ€ for some beautiful thoughts at this time.

  • Alan says:

    Thank you all! Misery loves company and I need this. Normally our problems are unique and we can reach out to unaffected friends or look around to see the rest of the world going about its normal business. Not this time. We need to stand by each other and I’ll be coming here for that. Keep well, Dear Susaners.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you so much Alan ! There’s a contact form at top right and it’s always manned. Feel free to write at any point for a private talk. I’ll be answering. Want to speak more publically? We can publish a post at any point, even if it’s slightly off topic ! You’re not alone ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Alan says:

        Thank you, Pascal. Not to worry, I’m as fine as the next guy (a low bar!) and appreciate the support offered simply by being (albeit recently) a member of this fine group. In my case, our children are at unusually high risk and, of course, we can’t visit them. Like everyone, we are happy for Skype. It’s great to see a bit beyond our little corner of the world even if other corners, such as yours, is no less difficult than our own. We’re fortunate to be able to go to the park for a long walk every day — still allowed — and that is a godsend. Thankfully we have a comfortable house, a car, food on the table and enough money for now. We’re doing ok in the circumstances and I hope I can support everyone here as much as they support me. In my copious free time I’ll give some thought to a post!

        • pascaljappy says:

          Looking forward to that post, Alan. And take good (mental) care of your children for their sake and yours. Let us know if we can do anything ๐Ÿ™‚

  • pascaljappy says:

    Once you have read this post, may I recommend this: https://www.thatseemsimportant.com/mental-health/headlines-media-panic-pandemic/ ?

    Stay positive ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jean pierre guaron says:

      That article makes a very valid point. In some places, it’s gone way beyond fear – it’s hysteria.

      When they told me I was suffering from depression, they offered me help – in the form of chatting to a “shrink” (psychiatrist) and/or some kind of pills. I told them no – I’ll deal with it myself. And I have – fairly well, in fact. But not everyone is as tough as that – several people who were close to me died way too soon when things got tough, and they didn’t know how to cope – so they just ended it all.

      Humans imagine they are the smartest creatures on the planet. But they’re not that good at coping with a crisis. So when the media pours petrol on the bonfire, constantly telling the world how dreadful this pandemic is, I am left wondering what on earth they imagine they’re doing. What became of “responsible journalism”?

      I am much more attracted to the way elephants behave when there is something wrong. They have a strong herd instinct, and look after other members of the herd. When one of the baby elephants is in trouble, it isn’t just the mother who tries to help – they all want to. None of them would dream of exploiting the situation, for personal gain or advantage, like the media does in the “civilised” world.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Responsible journalism requires money. People want everything for free. Governments don’t want educated people. Responsible journalism dies.

  • Thank you for the beautiful spring images. before people get too gloomy they should know that there is plenty of room out there for those who want to take their cameras and roam without making social contact. I have to get in a daily walk so I take my camera and head to the park for an hour. Somewhere along the way I always find something to photograph. Then I spend more time with the image in PS trying to learn something new in processing. When I’m finished I always try to post the image and something uplifting on FB. Yesterday it was a “guess what this is” image from a natural abstract found in the pond. It helps keep me occupied and there are several people who enjoy the posts. It is raining now (as usual) so I’ll try to find a rainy day image somewhere. They are always fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Cliff, that sounds like a great process. Food for thought, physical exercise, human contact and a much needed bit of fun. Really cool ๐Ÿ™‚

  • jean pierre guaron says:

    Pascal is absolutely right – helping others is a wonderful way of making yourself feel better, When you do something for a stranger you meet in the street, like discussing a problem they have and suggesting a solution to them, and you see a smile suddenly replace the frown they had on their face when you stopped to chat – as you bump elbows (instead of shaking hands) and walk off, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised how much better it makes you feel, and now YOU’RE the one with a smile.

    Our local harbour is quite small by international standards. We already have three cruise liners stuck here for 30 days (one of them is Cunard’s flagship, the “Queen Mary II”). Another two are about to arrive. I’ve no idea where they can possibly squeeze them in. The passengers and crew are not allowed off.

    The trip I had planned to the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary – cancelled for this year, otherwise “postponed indefinitely”.Even when things eventually start turning back to normal – maybe by then I’ll be too old anyway – besides, it’s going to be ages before we have once again such a cheap and efficient system of airlines operating around the world.

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”

    Fuji owns a chemical company which makes a drug called favipiravir (AKA Avigan), which is apparently effective in treating less serious cases of COVID-19. Why is this important? – because they are likely to be mobile, and anyway, reducing the number of infected people NECESSARILY reduces the risk of other people becoming infected.

    Other companies around the globe are busting themselves, trying to develop a vaccine for the disease – let’s hope they are successful soon.

    • Alan says:

      Jean Pierre, The world has changed. Am I the only DearSusaner to look at recent pictures of Venice, Paris, Rome or wherever and long for the days when they were capital D Destinations, overrun with tourists. You just can’t win!

      • pascaljappy says:

        A case of being careful what we wish for (when we’d like the streets of those destinations to be empty) ?

        That being said, they’ve seen dolphins in Venice for the first time in eons. When this epidemic goes away, it would be so great to get rid of those tragic ferries destroying the lagoon and its wildlife. All over the world we are able to see the impact of our activity, through its sudden absence. Food for throught ?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ah, I didn’t know Fuji owned the production of favipiravir. Japanese companies are fascinating.

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:

    A patch of blue sky in this gloomy world ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Pascal, and Philippe (flowers have never looked so beautiful) and others, for having created a real community with DS – a place of peaceful tranquility where one can seek refuge from the current concerns.

  • Adrian says:

    I don’t know where to begin, because I often feel emotionally paralysed. In turn I’m terrified of becoming so sick I would need to go to hospital; I’m terrified of not realising I’m sick and spreading potential death to others; I’m terrified for elderly family; I’m terrified for the vulnerable; I’m terrified by a feeling that the city really is about to collapse; I’m selfishly terrified for the impact on my work this year; and I’m terrified by the potential for economic meltdown that could result for some.

    I emailed Pascal the other day and included a post from my social media when I’d visited Paris for the day shortly after the Charlie Hebron killings. It wasn’t an email about terror, but about hope and solidarity. Pascal is right that it’s what we all need now. There is a way through this, none of us are one, and we can help just by supporting each other – and by doing what we are asked to reduce the transmission rates.

    Let’s stick together and get though this.

    • jean pierre guaron says:

      Rule 1 – dodge the bullets. I’ve been doing it fairly successfully for a VERY long time, Adrian.

      Starting as I was born – round 1 – came out blue in the face, being strangled by my own umbilical cord, and was pushed back in, so I was “re-born” some minutes later – God only knows what mother went through, while the obstetrician fiddled around and got the cord out of the way.

      Dodging bullets is important – you can practice with dodging rain drops, but they only make you wet, if you’re not good at it.

      I can imagine a scenario where taking photos involves running around in the dark, in the middle of the night, with a tripod and a bag full of gear, hiding behind bushes if a pair of headlights approaches, in case it’s the cops. I might be able to hone up my astro photography, practising on the moon, from my balcony.

      Philippe will be able to produce more and better macro shots, as he exploits the feats that Jonathan can perform.

      Pascal has a large garden, so he’s unlikely to develop claustrophobia.

      All the introverts in the group will get through OK – sliding back inside our shells feels comfy and natural – but I feel for the extroverts! My wife’s an extrovert, so I have a pretty fair idea how they are going to react – just lately I’ve been developing new and slicker ways of dodging when she fires up!

      So our actual or impending lockup means what? Don’t go out, except for essentials – food, pharmaceuticals, the doctor or dentist, petrol/diesel perhaps? (dunno – haven’t heard – won’t get to the doctor very easily if I can’t buy petrol). How can we possibly get tradesmen to do a job, if something needs repairs urgently? (Like gas, water, sewerage, electricity, roof leaking – whatever!) Again, I don’t know, I haven’t heard. Anyway their insurers might have the say on whether or not they can agree to come.

      (Going out for fruit & vegetables for the week, this morning, was pretty bad – much smaller range of product – had to go to two different places to get any reasonable range).

      The bright side is that it ought to ease off, once the rates of contagion are brought down a bit.

      And in case you haven’t heard – both Canon & Fuji have medical divisions – and they ‘re both working with government, on treatments to reduce the impact and speed up the cure from COVID. In case that’s not sufficient to cheer you up, America has put a massive supercomputer onto the job – it isn’t expected to manufacture a vaccination – but it IS genuinely and for good reason expected to cut at least 6 months of the time it is likely to take, before an effective vaccine becomes available.

      So – HANG IN, THERE – don’t let the little bastards knock you down!

      • Nancee Rostad says:

        Thereโ€™s only one thing to remember in times like these, Jean-Pierre: introverts, like you & me, have been training for social distancing our entire lives!
        Take care and stay well!

        • jean pierre guaron says:

          LMAO – soooooooo true, Nancee! And I am married to a rather fiery extrovert, who is in a VERY bad space, right now – wants to go out all the time, but is being told “NO – that is NOT a very good idea!” Fortunately I am 11 years older than she is – I’ve had so many dogs that people call me “the dog man” behind my back, and if you walk with dogs, you learn so much that you can read people like big print books! – and I have over-developed paternal instincts. So I can “be there” for her, and help her deal with it.

          To me, humans seem to be a paradox – claiming to be the most intelligent of creatures, but constantly striving to prove the opposite. There have been so many epidemics or pandemics, and so little learned from them. And here, we’re proving that, once again, on a world scale.

          For some people this idea of going into lockdown is going to be extremely difficult. But had it been introduced earlier, the rate of infections and deaths would have been dramatically reduced, and the available resources would not have been stretched beyond their limits, as they appear to have been in Italy and may very well be shortly, in other countries.

          All of this was known before, from past experience with other epidemics. Yet here we are again. Sigh!

          • Nancee Rostad says:

            How very true, Jean-Pierre – and here in the US we unfortunately have a complete idiot in the White House who refused to acknowledge that the virus was an issue when US Intel told him about it in early January! For two months he repeatedly and publicly said the virus was either a hoax or that the Democrats had invented it to hurt him politically! So delivery of necessary medical equipment and federal help has been greatly delayed. Even now medical centers have yet to receive the promised protective gear. Every time Trump opens his mouth the stock market falls, and who does he blame? Obama and the Democrats, of course! The only bright spot is that, because of social distancing, Trump is not allowed to hold his political rallies where he spews lies to his worshipping followers. The rest of us are doing everything we can to ensure heโ€™s not re-elected. We must get rid of the electoral college and bring back the popular vote. Sorry for the rant, but the epidemic epicenter of the virus and the first deaths in the US occurred at a long term care facility about a mile from my house. Yes, I live in Kirkland, WA.
            So stay safe, stay well, and keep writing your wonderfully witty comments on DS.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! A thank you for each of you. I was feeling ever so gloomy and down, and am now perked up and ready to meet the cleverly named โ€œ(con)fine art challenge. Fear and panic are definitely the biggest hurdle, so letโ€™s make art the antidote – okay? Thanks to all of you for sharing your lovely inspiring images. On a side note, the first day of spring this year was on March 19th – I know this because that was my birthday.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Oh, hey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Nancee ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Adrian says:

      Happy Birthday to you!
      Sorry that you probably didn’t get to go out and celebrate, but I hope you had a great day.

      • Nancee Rostad says:

        Thanks, Adrian!
        It was hard trying to celebrate – I had to cancel a birthday trip to the ocean because of all the closures. So, I grabbed my camera and took off for the day, practicing social distancing by shooting from the car and avoiding contact with others. It wasnโ€™t exactly what I had wanted to do, but it was fine.

        • pascaljappy says:

          I am worried that this is our future. If we learn nothing from this epidemic, this will repeat more and more frequently in the future.
          I am not worried about any negative impact of this new MO on the superb quality of your photographs ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Nancee Rostad says:

            You are so right, Pascal – we must learn from this crisis so that we can do better next time.

  • Dallas says:

    Well done gents, greta photo’s all. Readers please all take care

  • philberphoto says:

    Happee Birthdee, Nancee! [As I am late to the partee, I must do it differentlee, or suffer an penaltee, right?

  • Pascal O. says:

    A little over a decade ago, I read a book which made a significant impact, called Chasing daylight by Eugene O’Kelly. He was the KPMG CEO and discovered at 53 that he had three months to live as he had a terminal cancer.
    His wife Corinne enunciated five principles for life which, I think, have some particular relevance today:

    Face reality,
    Simplify (could this possibly apply to any of us DearSusaners?….),
    Recognise perfection (ditto),
    Achieve balance,
    and the last and most important for me in these arduous times, live in the moment

    Food for thought for me in the given circumstances.

    I wish Nancee a most Happy belated Birthday and all of us DearSusaners fortitude and a happy Sunday.

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for the reminder to live in the moment, because thatโ€™s all we ever really have.
      And thank you for the birthday wishes, too!

  • PaulB says:


    Thank you for this post it is a good reminder that we may face restrictions, but we are not trapped. We can be active and we can be connected.

    Let me add that we should use our connectivity to stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors. If you have the ability to go outside, do so to talk with your neighbors just keep the recommended distance.

    Some things that go with the above.

    Reach out to the younger generations in your circle. They may be more connected than many of us realize, but here in the US the younger generations do not have the coping skills that the older generations have learned. It may be the same where you live.

    If you are able to be out, continue to support the small independent businesses you are able too. They depend on regular customers and cash flow to survive in good times, so a shock like this will drive many to close permanently. In my office, while we were considering teleworking and business closures, a coworker mentioned that friends of hers had a resturant that they were just going to close and not reopen. They were doing fine with their regular business, but they wonโ€™t be able to stay viable with an extended closure.

    Finally Happy Belated Birthday Nancee! When this blows over we, and any others in the Puget Sound area, should have a meet up to write about.

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Those are all good reminders, Paul. Especially supporting small local businesses.
      Thanks for the birthday wishes, and yes, we Puget Sounders should definitely meet up!

      • pascaljappy says:

        Agreed. At the moment, we (In France) are allowed to shop freely (and, apparently raid toilet roll stands ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but we are supposed to go to the nearest shop. Which is a supermarket, in my case. So I sneek through the little side roads into a small shop in a nearby village where everything is fresh and tasty and the people are so lovely. It we make it through this only to find that everything that made life pleasant has disappeared, there’s very little point. We must support the quality businesses.

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