Return of the Story Problem

by Sheralyn

I was playing around with the idea of creating fun tools to help with at-home learning.

Obviously, I would need to upgrade the art and video elements. This is just a concept test with a question: Would story problems like this be a fun way to help your kids/students learn at home?

@ me on Twitter if you’re feeling it. @SheralynPratt

PRESENTING DK: SUPERSTAR

by: Sheralyn

The verdict is in: the world needs more satire!

Or, at least, my caricatures do. That’s feedback on this week’s postings in a nutshell:

MORE SATIRE, PLEASE.
HOLD THE NUANCE.

And I hear you. I totally do. So:

New Pivot:
GOODBYE: Editorial newsroom vibe (and characters)
HELLO: Full-on Comedy

This is exciting because comedy is something I have never done, and I am REALLY excited to succeed at it right out of the gate!

I’m also so lucky that I don’t have to agonize whether to try a comic strip or stand-up comedy first, given the fact that I’m pretty sure open mic nights are currently a Class B Misdemeanor in my city.

So comic strip/memes it is!

Although, there is one issue: I don’t really know how to art. It’s not really a thing I’ve ever focused on. I’ve always preferred to have people who do it well do it for me so it meets my tough standards.

But after 4 decades of getting away with not creating my own images, it would seem I finally need to learn how to draw. So I hope you’re excited to witness that learning curve as an added bonus!

And with that enticing preamble, I hereby present my very first comic character:

DK: Superstar

DK: Superstar. Bringing enemies together since 2020

How to describe DK: Superstar? There are so many ways, really…

You know when you’re arguing in private with someone and a stranger helpfully pops in with the answers to all your questions?

DK: Superstar is like that — ON STEROIDS.

Solutions … answers … bright ideas … ALL FREE. You don’t even need to ask!

DK will just fly in and inform you. Because that’s what Superstars do!

And I know you’re asking:

What does DK stand for?
What are DK’s superpowers?

And all I can say for now is: Answers coming soon!

You’ll be getting to know DK really well in the future, and I know you’re going to love having DK swoop in — unrequested — and save your day!

It’s just what every citizen dreams of.

DK: SUPERSTAR

More Coming Soon!!!

Morning Memo

Policy Update

by: Stan (Keeping you up to date on current standards and conversation points that will help keep you safe in difficult times.)

Good morning, citizens. I hope it is a beautiful Spring day wherever you are.

For those of you who are busy and on-the-go — who don’t have time to dive into every article you see in your feed — I thought it might be helpful to create a morning digest to update you on the relevant conversations of the day.

(Note: This is an article that could be ongoing — if there is demand. Please, respond via social media if you have interest.)

MORNING TRENDS

Sean Reed was shot and killed by Indianapolis police. This is within 24 hours of Ahmaud Aubrey‘s murder going viral for justice, and the same week that Calvin Munerlyn was shot at a Dollar Tree store in Flint, Michigan for asking a customer to wear a mask.

Search Terms: #SeanReed #JusticeforSeanReed #AhmaudAubrey Calvin Munerlyn

Antibodies from a 4-year-old llama named Winter in Belgium may hold the cure for Coronavirus.

OTHER TOPICS

National Nurses Day might have been yesterday, but it is always a great day to show your appreciation for the medical care workers on the front line of our current pandemic. #ThankYouNurses

A great celebrity focus at the moment is Dolly Parton. Dolly is funding cutting-edge COVID treatment research and it looks promising! Stay tuned for more updates.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital being treated for acute cholecystitis (a gallbladder condition). She is resting comfortably and set to take oral arguments via phone today. We wish her the best on her way to recovery!

The Pittsburg airport is the first in the nation to deploy ultraviolet-cleaning robots. This is likely to become the new standard of operation and you will see more airports following their lead.

______

That’s your morning digest. As always, wait for topics to shift as the day evolves.

And, to all you service workers out there, remember: The last super moon of the year is behind us!

Have a great day.

Ask Capella

New Age

by: Capella Nion

(Oracle to an ever-changing future. All prophesies have room for correction, unless otherwise stated.)

Dear Capella,

I saw a meme the other day that said:

Are we going to talk about the fact that the last normal day any of us had was Friday the 13th?

I can so relate to that! Life has been so crazy through this pandemic, all routine has been upturned, and everything feels so unsure. I’m doing everything right that I can, but the anxiety is getting to me.

What can I do to de-stress and find balance again?

Sincerely Yours,

A Seeker

________

Dear Seeker,

Fulfillment is found in joyful expression; anxiety is the opposite of this. Ironically, this is one of the reasons it is hard for smart people to be happy: because joy is not expressed by thinking through things, but by experiencing them.

Joy is a feeling we find in moments of pure thoughtlessness. And it is hard to be thoughtless when we are afraid.

So I ask you, Dear Seeker, when is the last time you expressed yourself so joyfully that you brought everyone in the room with you? No pre-planning, no gimmicks. Just the joy of a moment, plus you being you.

When is the last time you found the joy in a moment, despite the uncertainties around you? When is the last time you expressed yourself — without thinking or saying a word?

Bonus question: How can you elevate your immediate environment to spark joy in you and others?

To find balance, I would suggest setting some time aside each day to follow joy when you find it — especially if the world is still closed for quarantine around you as your news feeds fill with threats and frets that haunt you when you should be sleeping.

We can find peace in hard times but only through authentic expression, untouched by guilt or worry.

Worry is a waste of imagination

is one of my favorite catchphrases for expressing how the power of thought is directional. For what is anxiety but an imagination fixated on outcomes of catastrophic failure?

Anxiety is a torturous fixation that cuts at your spirit with little knives until you are defensively focused on pain avoidance.

Reverse this fixation by releasing the need to be smart about things that are out of your control and redirecting your thoughts to joyful, immediate action.

This is my remedy for the anxiety that ails you:

Crawl back into your own skin, find a pocket of joy, then embrace it.

Do this often and balance will return.

Wishing you the best in your ongoing quarantine!

Capella Nion

______

BONUS TIP FROM CAPELLA

People of certain constitutions may have been experiencing symptoms over the past several months, due to the increased electrification of the earth’s atmosphere.

Symptoms include:

  • Poor circulation (especially to the hands and feet)
  • Sense of an onset of arthritis or MS
  • Tickling of throat ~30 minutes into/after sun exposure
  • Asthmatic reactions to minor exercise (with no prior or recent history)
  • Low sense of fragrance (although honeysuckle fared well in my area)

If you’ve had any of these symptoms, you may be having a response to the 5G upgrade in our atmosphere.

There are many ways to respond to these symptoms, but might I suggest:

Licorice Root Tea

I’ve been drinking Yogi Egyptian Licorice tea lately, and find it to be a great licorice flavor to sip while wrangling fraught thoughts.

Help support this advice column by using my affiliate link to give this yummy tea a try!

Thank you for your support.

May the Fourth Editorial Meeting

<transcript>

In attendance: Sheralyn, Zeitgeist Karen, Big Brother, The Patriot, Rich Snitch, The Propagandist, Captain Pan, and Capella Nion.

SHERALYN

Okay, everyone. Welcome to our second meeting and May the Fourth be with us.

(silence replies)

Okay, did anyone follow up on the CDC thing?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

I thought you were going to do that.

SHERALYN

No. There didn’t seem to be any interest and the story seemed to self-correct by the end of the day so I’m good to let it go and start fresh. Anything you all want to cover?

CAPTAIN PAN

There are no beach riots in California. Only residents who want to play in the ocean.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Selfish! Just because the sun is out and the weather is nice, doesn’t mean we’re past this thing.

THE PATRIOT

So people don’t have a right to go to the beach if they want to? Hospitals are empty. Some are going bankrupt. We did this whole quarantine thing not to overrun them and we succeeded. Why are you so upset if they get patients again? Not everyone wants to die hiding in a foxhole.

SHERALYN

Good points for a thought piece, Patriot. Is yours ready to go?

THE PATRIOT

Not yet. I don’t work on weekends.

SHERALYN

Got it. Well, let me know when you’re ready to post.

THE PATRIOT

Will do.

SHERALYN

We have other stories. There was that George W. Bush video that was released over the weekend. Any reaction to that?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Oh, my gosh. I cried! That was so moving! Everyone should watch it. We really are in this together!

THE PATRIOT

(under breath)

9/11 was an inside job.

SHERALYN

Any other reactions?

RICH SNITCH

No. I’m just sitting here counting all the times Karen doesn’t get to speak her mind.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

And this is how you create a hostile work environment!

RICH SNITCH

Good to know.

SHERALYN

If that’s the only response, I’m going to assume no one else really found the video all that compelling.

BIG BROTHER

I agree with Karen. George W. Bush’s message to the people should be mandatory viewing in these harrowing times.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Thank you, Big Brother! It’s nice to be validated.

BIG BROTHER

You’re welcome, Karen. Also, I’d like to go by my given name from here on out: Stan. And I’d rather identify as “the oldest child” rather than the big brother. Big Brother is laden with negative tropes and sexism I’d rather avoid, if possible.

SHERALYN

I’ll make the change, starting immediately.

STAN

Thank you.

SHERALYN

Of course. Next up, we have the U.S. presidential elections and the mounting challenges to Joe Biden’s character through sexual assault allegations. Currently, these are centered around Tara Reade, who seems to be a credible accuser, since her mother called into Larry King regarding the accusation in 1993.

Some don’t believe Tara’s accusations, of course. But some do, while still endorsing Biden to beat Trump. Like Lisa Bloom:

You can probably tell by the current ratio of this tweet that this is a controversial stance. Anyone want to weigh in on it?

STAN

No.

RICH SNITCH

No.

THE PATRIOT

What’s the point? They’re just going to nominate Hillary as his VP and then have Joe drop out.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Oh, my gosh. I just can’t with all your conspiracy theories.

THE PATRIOT

Admit it. It’s what you want.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

I mean, not gonna lie, that would be a dream come true. But I think he’s going to choose a younger up-and-comer. Not white. He has to. Someone like Kamala Harris would be perfect!

THE PATRIOT

Why not Tulsi Gabbard? Why are female liberals backing a sexual predator when they could be voting for a woman? What’s with all the hypocrisy there?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Tulsi’s so moderate, she might as well be a Republican.

THE PATRIOT

Have you seen her policies? They are not Republican.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

You’re exhausting.

THE PATRIOT

Yeah? And I just think you’re biased against hot, vegan Hindus.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

That is categorically untrue.

THE PATRIOT

I’m just saying: Hillary’s going to steal the Democratic nomination and 2020 is going to be rematch. Politics has been like a WWE storyline ever since Trump entered the ring. They’re all just running a script and we’re supposed to act like the idiots in the stands while they do it.

SHERALYN

So … um, back to the Tara Reade story: Any takers?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Oooh. Stephenie Meyer is releasing a new Twilight book from Edward’s point of view! Could you get me an advanced reading copy? I’d love to do a book review.

SHERALYN

I don’t know that I have the contacts for that, but I’ll see what I can do.

RICH SNITCH

I think I might do an advertorial on good mics for snitches.

SHERALYN

(makes note)

Sounds good. Stan, anything to look for from you?

STAN

Not for the moment. People know where they need to be and what they need to do to stay safe during this pandemic. We’ve made that clear. All they need to do is take care of themselves and their loved ones with the peace of mind that people like me are doing all they can do.

SHERALYN

Okay. Do you want to write an article that says that?

STAN

People already know and the Bush video says it all. I won’t bore them with redundancy in the form of written words.

SHERALYN

Okay. Captain Pan, you’ve been traveling the world through all this. Any commentary you’d like to make?

CAPTAIN PAN

Not really. This is the most boring panic I’ve ever seen. No unrest. No bodies in the harbors. Just quiet cities filled with masked residents ordering take-out and binge-watching TV. I’ll let you know when I sail into something interesting.

SHERALYN

Gotcha. How about you, Capella? Insights are kind of your thing, right? Got any?

CAPELLA NION

I’ll meditate on it and let you know what comes.

SHERALYN

Great. Patriot, any other article ideas from you?

THE PATRIOT

Well, given the decrease in my drop-shipping business the past two months, door-to-door sales is now part of our home school curriculum. My boys sold 12 watches this morning. I think it’s really important to teach children about business young. Maybe I could do an article on that.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

On child labor? Surely, you are kidding. It’s like you want people to call CPS on you.

THE PATRIOT

For teaching my kids how to make money in tough times? You think that’s abuse? That life!

ZEITGEIST KAREN

They are children!

THE PATRIOT

Right. And it’s my job to prepare them for the world.

SHERALYN

Okay, I’m going to stop you two there unless one of you wants to write a thought piece on your stance.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Please. As if he would read it. Besides, you can’t teach common sense. Either you have it, or you don’t.

SHERALYN

Okay, let me know if you change your minds. Propagandist? You still here?

PROPAGANDIST

Yeah.

SHERALYN

I was thinking we could all use icons to go with our names. Is that something you could do?

PROPAGANDIST

Sure. I’ll get on that. Still need a style guide.

SHERALYN

Yeah. How about we collaborate on that after this meeting?

PROPAGANDIST

Cool.

SHERALYN

And I think now would be a great point to stop at. I clearly need to read a book, or something, on how to run more effective meetings. So I’ll look into that and work with the Propagandist to create icons for you all. Sound good?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Yes. But definitely look into getting that new Twilight book for me.

SHERALYN

Will do. Let’s meet again at the same time tomorrow and, next time, I’d like each of you to pitch a story that sounds interesting to you. Sound good?

Everyone agrees.

Meeting closes.

</transcript>

First Editorial Meeting

<Transcript>

After a bit of juggling, everyone finally makes it onto the first PIVOTING TIMES staff video conference call.

Participants include: Sheralyn, Zeitgeist Karen, Big Brother, The Patriot, Rich Snitch, The Propagandist, Captain Pan, and Capella Nion.

Sheralyn kicks off the meeting.

SHERALYN

First off, I want to thank everyone for being here —


ZEITGEIST KAREN

Yeah, about that. It’s Sunday. Is this going to be a thing? Are we working on Sundays? Because I didn’t sign up for that. This is just a fun thing for me to do in between being a full-time mom, home schooling, and taking my kids to sports and dance classes. Sundays are my days off. I don’t schedule anything but three meals, church, and video chats with family.

SHERALYN

Right. Good question. Let’s say that from here on out: weekends are optional. Today is more about touching base and to get some focus and momentum going.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Mhmm.

SHERALYN

Now I brought you all on because you represent strong voices in different echo chambers and I thought it would be interesting to put you all in the same publication.

BIG BROTHER

Rookie mistake.

SHERALYN

Excuse me?

BIG BROTHER

Look around. Look at every news organization that’s doing well right now, and you know what you won’t find? Diversity.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Not true! I saw a news panel just the other day that only had one white person on it. People of color have never been more represented!

CAPTAIN PAN

This is going to be fun. I’m very glad I signed up for this.

RICH SNITCH

Eh. I’m still on the fence. One question: Does anyone get to talk at these meetings besides Karen?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Excuse me? That is offensive and sexist! In scientifically observed business meetings, it is a proven fact that women are permitted to speak less, are more frequently interrupted, and are more likely to have their ideas dismissed or co-opted by men.

RICH SNITCH

Do you know where I can find one of those meetings? Cuz that’s sounding good to me right about now.

All the guys have a little chuckle.

SHERALYN

Getting back on topic: This is a meeting about focusing in and figuring out how we can put our voices together to keep busy people informed of current events. And, given that the world is in quarantine, Coronavirus is our top story.

THE PATRIOT

Right. It’s flu season and all of a sudden anyone who’s their own boss is a criminal for going to work, while anyone who works for the government or big business is “essential” and still getting paid. This is all just an opportunistic power play to kill small businesses.

SHERALYN

Do you want to write an opinion piece on that?

THE PATRIOT

I could do that in my sleep.

SHERALYN

Great. I’ll look for that opinion piece from you. And I know we have a lot of opinions in this room, so I’m going to ask: Does anyone here want to take on fact-based news stories?

RICH SNITCH

Not me. I’m here to get paid and no one clicks on facts.

SHERALYN

Okay. So do we have any takers on actual news?
For example, the CDC updated the numbers this morning.
On Friday, for US cases, the showed a total of:
62,406 COVID deaths.
This morning, they updated that to
37,308 COVID deaths.
That’s over a 40% drop in reported fatalities.
Anyone want to dig into what that’s about?

THE PATRIOT

I’ll tell you what that is!
It’s New York getting caught fixing the books on the rest of us!

SHERALYN

Through the lens of confirmation bias, perhaps.
But would you be willing to fact-check that against official sources?

THE PATRIOT

Why? They’re just going to lie anyway.

BIG BROTHER

Or maybe it’s not what you think. Maybe it’s Trump cooking the books to improve his image for re-election. Or maybe hospitals over-claimed the COVID code to qualify for payouts, and claims are starting to be rejected, causing numbers to be adjusted accordingly.

SHERALYN

Good points, Big Brother. It could be a lot of things.
Do you want to dig in and write the article?

BIG BROTHER

No.

SHERALYN

No?

BIG BROTHER

No. Current information is current.
People can tell themselves whatever they want about it.

SHERALYN

Sure. But that’s what news is supposed to guard against:
wild theories that can take root in the absence of facts.
I think people would be interested to learn why the numbers shifted so drastically.

BIG BROTHER

No. Not if they’ve watched Tiger King.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Wait. What do you mean? What does that have to do with anything?
I watched Tiger King and I care about facts!

THE PATRIOT

(under his breath)

See that? She almost made it one whole minute without talking.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Rude.

SHERALYN

Yes. Let’s keep personal comments at a minimum in this setting.
We don’t all have to get along to work together.

CAPTAIN PAN

Hear! Hear!

SHERALYN

So, Karen, do you want to take on the article about the drop in CDC numbers?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

I don’t think so. Those new numbers sound wrong to me.
Certainly, more than 40,000 Americans have died of COVID.
It’s all we’ve been hearing about for months, and I’ve been in quarantine with my kids for over six weeks!

SHERALYN

Right. And now we’re getting to the first phases of the “hindsight is 20/20” window. It’s a great time to assess what was effective, what was not, and how we want to handle things as a society moving forward.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Well, clearly, the world can never be the same again!
Think of the grandparents … think of the children!

BIG BROTHER

What she said.

THE PROPAGANDIST

I’ll work on a poster with that theme.

SHERALYN

(makes a note of that)

Okay. Thanks, Propagandist. You’re just waiting for a style guide for publication from me, yes?

THE PROPAGANDIST

Correct.

SHERALYN

Okay. I’ll get on that and get back to you. For now,
any takers on investigating the CDC numbers?

BIG BROTHER

No.

RICH SNITCH

No.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

No.

CAPTAIN PAN

No. Chaos and rumors are all that interests me.

SHERALYN

Gotcha. Patriot, how about you? Want to take this on?

THE PATRIOT

Why? They’re never going to tell the truth.

SHERALYN

Okay. How about you, Capella? You’ve been pretty quiet throughout all this.
Is this the kind of topic you’d like to cover?

CAPELLA NION

I never look back, only forward, while embracing the newly revealed potential of each moment.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Wait … what? Was I supposed to understand that?

THE PATRIOT

No. We’ve got a nut job in our midst.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Um. Okay, now I’m nervous. My understanding coming into this was that Capella would be doing things like horoscopes or something. Not anything to be taken seriously.

SHERALYN

Well, the rule is that you all get to choose what you want to do, at first.
And we go from there.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Right. But I didn’t sign up to write for The Enquirer. I have a reputation to consider. I am a mother of children! What, exactly, am I getting myself into here?

SHERALYN

Good question. Let’s do a role call and find out.
Big Brother? What will you be contributing?

BIG BROTHER

Systems and policy articles.

SHERALYN

Okay. Zeitgeist Karen?

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Word on the street.

SHERALYN

So … gossip column. Patriot?

THE PATRIOT

I’ll be bringing the truth to the people!

SHERALYN

Great. Opinion blog. Rich?

RICH SNITCH

Here to get paid. Ads only.

SHERALYN

Okay. Although it might be a while before we have paid advertisers.
You might have to be creative to get paid out of the gate.

RICH SNITCH

I’m looking into affiliate links now.

SHERALYN

Great. And Propagandist, you’re basically political cartoons, once I get you a style guide, yes?

THE PROPAGANDIST

Yes.

SHERALYN

Which brings us to Captain Pan. What’s your focus?

CAPTAIN PAN

I’m just here for the unrest. It builds character and culls the herd.
Good, honest fun.

SHERALYN

Gotcha. And Capella?

CAPELLA NION

I guess I’m like the Marianne Williamson of the 2020 elections in all this.
People will resonate with me, or they won’t. And I’m at peace with that.

SHERALYN

And what will you write about?

CAPELLA NION

Probably starseeds, fae, nature, aliens, and related prophecies.

THE PATRIOT

Nut job.

RICH SNITCH

(laughs under his breath)

SHERALYN

Okay. I think those are great starting points.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Yes. And, not to rush everyone, but I have a dinner to make and wasn’t expecting the meeting to go this long. May I be excused?

SHERALYN

Yes. Everyone is. This first meeting was more about introducing everyone to each other and carving out lanes of focus to make sure there aren’t overlaps. I look forward to what you all bring to me in the next couple of days.

BIG BROTHER

I’ll have something for you.

THE PATRIOT

Me, too.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

I’ll keep my ears and eyes open!

CAPTAIN PAN

And I’m thinking of heading to California to check out the impending beach riots.

ZEITGEIST KAREN

Ooh! I’m totally interested in that! Do you think they will actually riot? And will it lead to a mass infection? And how do we treat protesters who ignore social distancing and get infected? Do they get treated the same at hospitals? There’s just so much to talk about!

SHERALYN

That’s a good place to pick up tomorrow. For now, I’m going to let you all get back to your days. Thanks for taking the time to meet up.

Everyone says goodbyes.

</transcript>