Day 24

Day 24

Writing the titles for this series of blogs has been pretty straightforward, obviously.  Writing it today I had a sense of it coming to an end soon. Slightly melancholic feeling, which is weird after wishing the time away.

The Lockdown will probably end to be replaced by another form of restriction, but the Lockdown blogs will end with Level 4 ends. OK!

The sharemarket – as if its a being – appears optimistic about the current economic prospects. Shares have largely rebounded strongly, not regaining all the gains of the last few years, but quite a bit of it. Investors are seeing signs that COVID-19 as a medical issue is largely dispatched, and the economy can fire up again. Yes it’s more complex on both fronts, but I think that’s the perception.

The government led us strongly into economic freeze to stop the ‘rona spreading. It will say there’s still lots to be done, but by the look of the amount of traffic on the streets today, many people have stopped listening. Business is coming back ready or not I think.

I went on a walk again today, a long walk, Maungakiekie and Cornwall Park, Te Kopuku/Mt St John and Maungawhau/Mt Eden. The body needed a big workout to match the mental energy this past week and it paid off.

Do watch Unorthodox on Netflix which I finished tonight. If you don’t need to wipe your eyes you might be a sociopath! It’s only four episodes.

Although there’s quite a few things I like about the Lockdown, I do miss the weekend drive, the coffee in the cafe and riding my motorbike.

So the challenge is to hold on to new ways whilst grabbing back the best of the past.

Leaders can make this their mantra in the refreshed world in a week or two.

Stephen

Day 23

Day 23

Who would have thought that almost the entire New Zealand inside is painted the same colour – more or less? Or that it took only 2 days and everyone started wearing Saturday morning sloth clothes?

I started the day on a video call – Hangout as Google calls it – with Ireland, and then it never really stopped until about 7.15pm. You see lots of the inside.

Working days at home on constant calls I’ve found really quite tiring, so I was tempted to break the walking chain. Of course not! But it was only 3 km and now I’m watching Unorthodox.

It’s the story of a young woman who escapes from her Hasidic Jewish Brooklyn community and goes to Berlin.  She’s taken in by a group of musicians. It flashes backwards and forwards from her old life to her new one: charming, funny and poignant all at the same time. It’s only four episodes so it’s a pleasant change from ten episodes in Sweden about a series of murders orchestrated by those high up in society!

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We’re all living out of our normal environment right now. When you’re outside your norm you can learn unexpected things about yourself. I haven’t minded at all the  non-contact. I’ve enjoyed the meetings that start promptly on time. Everyone gets heard. I’ve lived in a more structured manner, and enjoyed it. I work less in the evenings and weekends than I ever have. I walk a lot. I eat better. It’s okay, but the economy can’t survive this indefinitely, or much more at all.

Brandenburg Gate In Berlin. Germany

The finance minister said today at the 1pm briefing that the government had paid $9.8b in wage subsidies. We can’t run an economy for much longer by borrowing. So let’s hope the projections of the 2 weeks in Level 3 then down to the working level – level 2 – turn out to be true. By the way, why is the 1pm broadcast orchestrated like a piece of propaganda? The flashing banners to dob in companies about prices, the STAY HOME! warnings, the repeat instructions telling us what to do and not do. That might be newsworthy but it shouldn’t be pumped out as instructions. That’s not the media’s job. But I forgot, we’re in a national state of emergency. Is it supposed to feel like this?

So whatever the level, I think us knowledge workers will still be working from home for some time yet.

It won’t be so bad, in fact the new environment is an ongoing opportunity for personal growth for all of us.

Have a great weekend. I’m thinking about a COVID-19km walk.

Stephen

Day 22

Day 22

Sadly, my trip down to Christchurch to do a surprise visit for Mum’s 89th birthday got cancelled by Air NZ. Well, I’m sure Air NZ didn’t want to cancel it but they have no choice as we’re not permitted travel until Alert Level 2 is here. So Mum will have to see in her 90th year just with Dad, which will be just fine!

Mum’s been bottling fruit  since 1952 – 67 years  – as long as her and Dad have been married, and there’s no bigger fan of it than Dad who loves it with his Tip Top Boysenberry ice-cream. On our annual road trip in January, Mum picked up some apricots from the place just on the edge of Cromwell as you head towards Queenstown. I enjoyed a bottle of it tonight, slightly warmed, with some Vanilla Ice-cream. Perfect. I’ve been eating it, not regularly, but all my life. I remember the annual bottling ritual when I was a boy – it’s been apricots, peaches, plums (off the tree), pear and stewed apples. Despite the sugar that I recall going in the big vat, it must be alright for you!

If you’re ever at Mum and Dad’s the bottles are safely stored in the cupboard in the laundry. It always seems full, despite them eating it for breakfast and dessert every night. Just don’t go there at night-time because the cat is locked up in there, heated bed and all, safely for the night.

Apricots all eaten up

During the Lockup it’s definitely been a time to enjoy home pleasures and of course home-cooked food. There’s not much else. But growing up I don’t remember much else either. There were occasional visits to friends, rare fish ‘n chip nights and even rarer meals out. Nowadays, they’d never been a week, or in fact hardly a day, when I wouldn’t eat out or at least purchase out.  So maybe it’s not so bad for us all to have some, hopefully, home-cooked nutritious meals. Who knows, it might keep the ‘rona away!

I walked twice today – total 16.5km – and there’s little doubt that La Résistance are firmly in control of Cornwall Park. The security guards on duty have gone from stern occupying sympathisers, to silent, but benevolent supporters. Never have there been so many smiles and acknowledgements from passing walkers. Yes, we’re in this together, but we’re also in this– our democratically empowered exercise – together. If we have to choose, it’s the walk, so don’t mess with us!

There’s been some weird stuff in the park. A well groomed small man with immaculately trimmed barista style beard and hi-vis vest hurtling down the road from the peak of One Tree Hill on his tiny cycle, to skid sideways to a halt just before the barrier; a woman who I knew but couldn’t remember her name who claimed to have a gun to ward off runners who came too close; selfies with bulls; a child out of control on her balance bike down the hill in the wet, smiling all the way; people with masks protecting their chins only; golf; one man soccer games; and skate boards that go up hill (I need).

When we get out of our motor vehicles, play, interact and stop being busy and important, real things happen. This isn’t new to me, but like the ‘rona is said to compress the mortality rate of those most at risk from 12 months to 2 weeks, the Lockdown has compressed these great pleasures into a few weeks.

Can I say keep it up! Well the walking yes at least!

By the time you read this it will be Friday. Enjoy your dessert. Only two people will have it as good as mine was tonight.

Stephen

 

Day 21

Day 21

We turned 21 but we didn’t get the Key! Battle lines are being drawn between experts.

One group, who advise the government, says that the risks of COVID-19 can’t be understated, that Lockdown is vital and we’re so far doing precisely what we should have been doing to eradicate the virus from New Zealand.

On the other side are experts who say that the risks for most people are overstated and that the main impact of the the virus is to compress the mortality of a certain group from twelve months to two weeks. They say that we can’t ever expect to eradicate the virus, that’s just not practical.  Of course, there’s more to it than that but these are the highlights (or lowlights really).

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The first group will be saying that at Alert level 3 there should be severe restrictions on movement and that a return to level 2 should be measured and slow, ensuring all risk is eliminated.

The second group essentially proposes a return to level 2 now, but with Lockdown applying to those over 70 (or maybe 60) and those with low immunity.

One of the specialists from the first group suggested that this proposal was impracticable. I doubt it’s any more impractical than what we have! Which is not to say he was wrong but it’s hardly a fighting argument.

Naturally group two has the support of many business people who say that the medicine is worse than the disease.

Adversarial processes are used commonly in law and in parliament. They promote a “winner takes all” approach to settling a dispute. As the economy and society hemorrhage from the Lockdown we’ll see more of this advocacy.

Good leaders build consensus and in my experience, business leaders are generally excellent at it. Command and control has its place – including during a state of national emergency – but consensus will be far more sustainable in the long run.

So it’s an odd situation. We have a government that built a consensus across the political spectrum to go into Lockdown. This Lockdown was built on evidence that was available at the time – 80,000 will die if we don’t respond – and that we would be the next Italy if we didn’t take action.

A few weeks on a lot has changed. There is little doubt that the measures have squashed the curve. But we’re more or less being given the same evidence – the dementia patients dying has been cited as why we can’t relax. I know this sounds harsh, but the majority of those patients have “Do not resuscitate” orders against them. These are folk who, sadly, their loved ones have made that very tough decision about. I’ve been involved in one of those decision. You do what’s right.  These folk do not represent or crystallise a real and present danger to what the majority in the community might face. They do explain why we need to flatten the curve so hospitals are no overwhelmed. We’ve done that.

The toughest calls are not always what you do. In my work sometimes we make calls not to go for something. They’re really tough and you fight against all your commercial instincts to do what’s right. That’s not in anyway to compare the gravity of the calls that might need to be made, however, leaders need to know when not doing something is right.

I remember when the fourth Labour Government put an end to shopping restrictions in the weekend. I remember clearly the great feeling of freedom that, finally, here was a government that wanted to stop telling us what to do!

I’m hoping for a grand consensus and freedom for those who need it, and relevant restrictions and, yes, use some of that $52B in emergency funding, and pay whatever it takes to keep those most at risk safe and secure.

Too much sitting at my computer on video calls have started to take their toll. Some soreness in joints that shouldn’t be there so I’m going to try and take a day time walk tomorrow. The walking jacket is now always on hand. The summer walks are over.

Let me out!