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April 2020

Bill Gates on pandemics; smiles and songs; how I read the news now

In SAVVY, Bill Gates’s 8 minutes TED talk could have saved thousands of lives and trillions of dollars if we had listened to him. As we think of opening the USA up again, will we listen now? 

In SKILLS, SMILES, SONGS I share some of my favorite coronavirus related humor and music. 

In SOUL AND SHARING SOLUTIONS, I pass by news items that leave me angry and less empathetic. Is there anyone out there wanting to come together to find solutions to our shared common challenges?


I am now over 4 weeks confined to my house with nothing more than a daily 3 mile walk. But I am trying to be a good citizen adhering to stay-at-home orders, even with a bad case of cabin fever.  I pondered making this edition NOT coronavirus focused. But you might think that I had been living under rock to pretend COVID-19 is not on everyone’s mind.

Firstly, here is a non-virus item – This edition starts the 18th year of writing Tips and Topics (TNT) every month. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read TNT and especially to any of you who have been with us since the beginning.


See What Bill Gates told us to expect and how to prepare five years ago – Did anyone listen and follow the science to take action?

In his 8 minute TED talk April 3, 2015, Bill Gates highlighted “The next outbreak? We’re not ready”. As we talk of opening up the country again, the same advice applies now in 2020.  What would have happened if our politicians and leaders had listened back in 2015?  Should we listen again?

You be the judge.

skills, smiles, & songs

I am sure all of you have been flooded with jokes, songs and videos forwarded to you from family and friends to lighten your day with smiles or music. So here are some of my favorites:

1. You’ll laugh at a timely and instructive update to the 1972 smash hit TV show: 


2. Friend, colleague and mentor, Don Kuhl is founder of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® If you haven’t seen his three times weekly blogs on Aging, here are two of my favorite Coronavirus-related ones:

Clean hands

Read Don Kuhl’s blog here

What I’m doing today

 Read Don Kuhl’s blog here

3. Watch this inspiring and heart warming version of What the World Needs Now 

4. Wonderful virtual gathering of the Camden Voices singing True Colors 

5. This is not the kind of new world we might have imagined, but Tony Roberts & Charlotte Awbery sing us into A Whole New World

6. Listen to these next two songs with headphones in both ears (not just one earpiece).

It is new music composed with 8D technology. Listen to it only with headphones. It will be the first time that you will listen to music with your brain and not your ears. You will feel the music from outside and not from the headphones. Feel the effects of this new technology.

Pentatonix – Hallelujah | 8D Audio  

7. If you want to hear the music even more in your brain rather than your ears, this will do it:

8D AUDIO PENTATONIX / Billie Eilish – Ilomilo (USE HEADPHONES)  

soul & sharing solutions

I have changed the way I read the daily news. I now scan the headlines of the items on any news website; and click on the ones that have:

  • Data information like “US coronavirus death toll tops 40,000”; or
  • Specific information like “States that have flattened the COVID-19 curve” or “Three states coordinate their re-opening plan.”
  • Uplifting themes like “CharIes Barkley: I made a conscious effort to change my lifestyle.”

But if the headline pitches the news as if we are ringside at a boxing match (“Senator slams opponents’ views”); or in a perpetual adversarial battle of character assassination (“Watch his stunning flip-flops” or “Governor blasts his ‘unhinged’ comments”), I pass. 

Here’s why I pass by those news items.

There is almost a universal thirst for calling winners and losers; for relishing one upsmanship in the current climate of political tribalism. It all reminds me of my schoolyard days. The cry would go out “Fight! Fight! Fight!” as soon as two boys started throwing punches and the whole schoolyard would rush to watch.

I find that when I give into the ‘news’ article that is the equivalent of “Fight! Fight! Fight!”, I become angry, frustrated, judgmental, and less empathetic to the hopes and dreams of those in the other political party. 

Two approaches I found most helpful

I am SHARING SOLUTIONS that can increase empathy and understanding in an environment that is shouting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”. 

1. Alan Alda On “How To Talk About Tough Topics” – Science Friday, November 1, 2019

Bio: Alan Alda is an actor and writer. He’s also the host of the Clear + Vivid podcast, and founder of the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York. Best known as Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H, Alan Alda spent more than a decade interviewing scientists on Scientific American Frontiers, and later founded a center to teach scientists how to communicate better with the public-through improv.

If you can’t listen to the whole 11 minutes, here are some pearls of wisdom gleaned from the November 1, 2019 broadcast of Science Friday:

  • The best advice is to start the conversation not with what we most disagree on, but rather with what we most agree on, with what we have in common.”
  • You have to have this trust that you are not the enemy. You share many things in your common humanity…….. You can establish trust with almost anybody if you get down to the things that you really have in common- your everyday experience.”
  • When discussing a controversial topic, it’s important to give validation and acceptance to parts of their story that are actually true and makes sense. On the other hand, you do want to be confident in your perspective, in your place, in your beliefs, and back them up with sound science, and be rational.”
  • You don’t have to agree with a person to listen really well and long to them. The more you listen to them, the more they feel validated. You’re not cutting them off after the first sentence…you can establish respect for the other person.”
  • It’s that I don’t think I’m really listening unless I’m willing to be changed by you. And that doesn’t mean that I’m going to agree with what you’re saying. But I might be changed by something about you, some deeply held belief you have about just living, about your dedication to your children, or something like that.”

2. Originally in TIME Magazine, April 6/April 13, 2020 pp.64-65, Van Jones wrote on “How to Make Change”. You can read the whole article online posted as: “Van Jones: Why We Need Bipartisan Progress Now More Than Ever

Bio: Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones is an American news commentator, author, and non-practicing attorney. He is a co-founder of several nonprofit organizations, including the Dream Corps, a “social justice accelerator” that operates three advocacy initiatives: #cut50, #Yeswecode and Green for All.

Here are excerpts of Jones’ key points on how to make change:

First, the most important formula for bipartisan breakthroughs: pay less attention to the politics at the top and more attention to the pain at the bottom. Pick tough issues that neither party has been able to solve. Only the best people in either party will touch those causes. So you will start out with great partners.”

Second, separate battleground issues from common-ground issues. Some issues are still hot and divisive. State your differences on those issues-and then move on to areas where you can get something done……You can fiercely oppose someone on a battleground issue and still work with them on a common-ground issue.”

Third, don’t convert. Cooperate! Don’t try to make other people adopt your worldview just to work on a problem together…..We have different reasons, but we want the same result. Let that be good enough.”

Fourth, start human, stay human. Respect that whoever you are working with on the other side has noble ideals and values…..And when disagreements arise, don’t call people out, based on your set of principles. If anything, try to call them up to a higher commitment-inviting them to better honor their own principles.”

Is there anyone out there wanting to come together to find solutions to our shared common challenges? They have my vote.

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