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Yale 62

Q of the Q 1: William Stork

Some Personal Reflections on what the Pandemic has brought

Having lived and worked through the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic in Hong Kong I went into this virus experience a little bit better prepared, knowing that the most critical factor, in addition to the physical heath precautions, was to maintain a good mental outlook. And, rather Polyanna-ish, I continually look daily for positive ways in which this current situation has affected us!

First and most importantly, as a couple it has brought us closer together. We are doing quite well at recognizing and respecting each other’s personal needs and creating personal space and personal time for one another’s daily plans. We are also strictly following the restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong government, which include the two-meter physical distancing, wearing masks at all times in public, no evening socializing as eateries and bars are not allowed to serve after 6:00pm.

Yes, in-person socialization is one of the things missed, but the antidote for that is increased contact with Hong Kong friends by email and WhatsApp, and finding new opportunities that a ZOOM-viral life now affords: most recently I promoted the idea of a ‘Yale clubs of Asia book club’, and now the next event will include the Yale Clubs of Hong Kong, of Shenzhen, of Singapore, of Taipei, and of Beijing – along with the Yale Center Beijing. Important to see new opportunities in new situations!

Food! Yes, we still need to eat but now we can focus on doing so in a perhaps more healthy manner. After a week of reading reviews and comparing prices I bought Jasmine an AirFryer for her birthday. Delicious French fries without all the oil! Another delight has been to do grocery shopping online, with free delivery without having to do any of the lugging of bags and boxes. And I’ve even found an organic three-grain bread much like the pumpernickel I enjoyed as a boy. Small pleasures go a long way.

Getting organized fits into the pattern somehow. But always in discrete chunks otherwise the task would be so overwhelming as to not be enjoyable. A recent New Yorker cartoon showed a wife on the floor with cartons of photos and saying of course this would be a good time to get the ten-year collection sorted. For me, its not just photos but much more on my portable hard drives. But I will do a small bit regularly and with any little accomplishment I can still claim positive progress. The daughter of my father’s brother was interested in Stork family history, and I have sent her a quite full photo album. Family seems to pull closer together in times like this. My children and sister live in California, and they have enjoyed my sharing a few memories and have repeatedly asked for more! I have been working on a ‘pre-bucket’ list called ‘Un-Expectations’, things that I have done in my lifetime that I never ever would have expected to have done (I add to it regularly, and am now on page five!)

Somehow it seems important to use the time now available to help others. My daughter got a new job with one of California’s top coffee producers, and had several weeks of 12-14 hour days (I think she was moving the company’s online presence to a new server) and I decided to sent her an outrageous pun every other day. A friend’s daughter will be applying to college next year, and she asked if I’d be willing to comment on her essays. Another friend was applying for a position on the board of a non-profit, and I was asked for help. And I send off books I have read to friends who I think might enjoy them.

Patience. So important! Now that there is ‘time to get things done’, there should be no pressure to do so! So I have a new way of creating a TO DO list: Something that could be done at some time gets written on a small slip of paper. Each ‘task’ gets its own slip of paper. When there is time or interest in doing one of these, I just shuffle the slips of paper or select one by design or at random. That’s easy! The only tasks that I really have had a deadline for? Applying for my passport renewal; filing my IRS 1040 and FinCen FBAR; applying for my Hong Kong economic stimulus.

Intellectual pursuits: avidly I follow the latest investigations and efforts with the Covid … testing, tracking, vaccines, therapeutics, antibodies, mutations. Fascinating. I am also reading five or six news briefings daily, and continuing to look at political divisions and tribalism (and whether there are, as Yale Law professor Amy Chua puts it, any group-transcending values) and in the context of the recent words of history professor Ten Snyder.

But Hong Kong has been home since 1994 and much of my attention has been focused on the now daily developments that have but Hong Kong in the squeeze in the tit-for-tit exchanges between Washington and Beijing, as Trump uses it for campaign rhetoric and Xi uses it to try to reinforce his staggering leadership at home.

This, below, will be the lead for my next article , which may be of some interest once the RNC is over!