Dickie L. Rowbotham

Dickie L. Rowbotham

It’s becoming more and more difficult to stay sane with all this self-isolation going on. So, I decided to write a flash fiction piece; a parody of the corona virus pandemic, main-stream media, social media blabbering, being clueless and the idea of hope. All characters here are fictional and have no relation to real world people or events. Here’s the punchline of the story: “One day, a loser wakes up to discover he made the headlines everywhere during a lethal Pandemic.” You can read the complete story by scrolling down. I would love to see some honest comments! Cheers!

corona-vaccine-reuters

Covered in sweat and feeling a pain of uneasiness in his chest, Dickie woke up almost an hour before his alarm clock set off. He quickly hurried to the bathroom, turned on the tap, squirted some liquid soap onto his palm and began rubbing his hands in the harshest way anybody had ever done. He started silent counting and stopped when he reached 22. Twenty seconds were enough to kill the virus that might have been residing on his hands, but he’d always do a couple of seconds extra just to be on the safe side. He dried his hands with a paper towel and disposed it right away. With the corner of his eye, he checked his paper towel stock sitting proudly on the shelves. Yep, the remaining 37 huge rolls would be more than enough to last him in case paper-towel shortages started. Encouraged by his vast paper towel collection and not feeling well to his usual standards, he turned on the tap for another 22 seconds and peeled more skin off his hands.

It was the beginning of a huge day. The previous week he’d gone to the emergency service of the memorial hospital for Anoroc-91 testing. He had all the symptoms; a mild diarrhea, a little muscle pain especially in the back, dry coughing a couple of times throughout the day, shortness of breath accompanied by a mild fever. He’d waited a couple of days before he went to the hospital for a test as he couldn’t be sure if he was developing symptoms due to his own precautious actions. Since the world has been taken over by this pandemic, he’d completely changed the way he lived his life. He set up the heater at least ten degrees as he was informed by social media that the virus couldn’t survive in higher temperatures. This could be the reason he felt his elevated body heat. His diarrhea could be just because he’d changed his diet to natural Anoroc-repelling food advertised by a well-being specialist he’d been following on Twitter. His shortness of breath could be explained by not taking his protective mask off even when he was home alone. On another note, he was always home alone. Not that he was following strict self isolation techniques, but because he didn’t have any friends. “Darn!” he mumbled to himself. Where did he put the new batch of masks?

The landline phone rang, but he couldn’t get it in time as he was too busy putting on his latex gloves to pick it up. It was too bad that these old models didn’t display missed calls. He was sure though that he missed the call about his test results as his phone only rang three or four times during a full year. And it was only March! Angry to himself, he ditched the gloves into the bin and sanitized the receiver thoroughly to save time for the next ring. He just hoped they would call soon as the wait had already been messing up his nearly non-existent sanity. Not having anything better to do, he turned on his laptop and logged-in to his Twitter account. It was a pity that his cell phone, where he usually checked his messages and social media, was totally wrecked after laying it in alcohol bed for quick sterilization. The coffee table the laptop was on, was just making him bend lower than usual and have back pain after an hour of computer time. But, this time he wasn’t planning on spending more than ten minutes on Twitter, perhaps only a bit longer if he found some new information on the virus itself.

Surprisingly, the Twitter trending topic list had his name on the very top: “#dickielrowbotham”. That was strange. He never thought someone sharing his uncommon full name to be trending. It wasn’t him for sure. He was a nobody. But seriously, how many Dickie L. Rowbothams, down to the middle initial, could be in the whole world? He tapped on the topic and started scrolling down millions of uninformative tweets:

Terence Woodbury, a guy with a profile pic of a slam dunk close-up tweeted: “Don’t be a dick! Be a dickie and save the world! #dickielrowbotham #anoroc-91 #anaroc91 #anaracvirus

The next few tweets were emojis of thumbs-up or closed fists… or combinations of these two with varying smileys.

Another tweet by a certain well-known celebrity, complete with a blue tick next to the name, was saying: “Yay #dickielrowbotham“. It had nearly 90k likes, 28k retweets and nearly as many comments.

Dickie got frustrated as he scrolled down the never-ending tweets. There was not a single tweet giving him an insight on what was happening!

Then, he saw it! A doctor, or at least that was what his username “dr.chadwick8080” implied, had tweeted: “As the acting director of Springwell Memorial Hospital, I can neither confirm nor deny the discovery of immune cells in a suspected patients blood work. It’s just too early for a final verdict and false hope does not help in this case. #dickielrowbotham #anoroc-91 #stayhome

Dr. Chadwick? Springwell Memorial? That was where Dickie had his Anoroc test! The tweet didn’t really seem like it was written by a real doctor, but even if that was true, it was still a weird coincidence.

The phone started ringing while Dickie was still trying to make heads or tails of the whole thing. This time he was quickly on his feet and answered the phone in record time:

“Hello! This is Dickie speaking.” He said with a trembling voice.

“Hello Mr. Rowbotham,” The voice answered. “I am Doctor Richard Chadwick from Springwell Memorial Hospital. I am calling about your blood test results regarding Anoroc-91.”

“Yes?” Dickie said in a shaky tone after a brief pause.

“We have discovered certain antibodies in your blood that prevent the Aronoc virus,” he said. “To put it boldly, you are immune Mr. Rowbotham. We would like to invite you here and run some more tests and perhaps you could be the one saving all of us,” he concluded.

“Wait! Wait! How is it possible that I am just hearing about this now. Twitter is flooding with this ‘new discovery’,” he glared.

“We couldn’t reach you before Mr. Rowbotham!” Dr. Chadwick said calmly.

“Yeah, like 20 minutes ago. And I’ve been staying home since I got tested.” Dickie replied losing the timid tone. “It’s been spreading on Twitter faster than Anoroc ever could. Just tell me how this happened and I might consider coming there.”

Dr. Chadwick cleared his throat before answering. “Your test results came yesterday morning and we… yadda, yadda, yadda…” The doctor spoke some more. but all Dickie could make out from the long technical details were the words: “immune cells”, “antibodies” and “vaccine”. He finally came to Dickie’s initial question. “… and I told my wife about it. I didn’t know she had a whatsapp group of about 80 senior citizens. And the rest is that people have been sharing this story for the past ten hours or so. I am so sorry, but we had to make sure before we contacted you.”

“But, you tweeted as well.”

“I don’t have a Twitter account, Mr. Rowbotham,” he replied. “Please drop by today, as soon as possible.”

“Ok.” Dickie said before hanging up.

He ran his hand through his hair slowly as he could. God, how he missed these simplest actions. Fearing infection, he’d been refraining himself from touching his face or head for the past couple of months. Next, he binned the sanitizers in his house. He hated the smell, besides he didn’t need protection now. And the best of all, he didn’t have to isolate himself in a 2-bedroomed-house anymore. He wasn’t really a people person, but observing them from time to time while seated at a cafe, sipping his latte did make him feel a bit more joyous. Whistling to himself, he got dressed and got out without wearing the usual latex gloves. He walked all the way to the hospital.

It was way more crowded at the front door of the hospital. Media outlets, reporters, ordinary people who didn’t look sick swarmed the steps leading to the entrance. The security guards were not allowing anyone to pass. So, Dickie had to shout from the back to be able to get through:

“Hey! I am Dickie L. Rowbotham. Dr. Chadwick is expecting me!” The clamor instantly ended and every glare was pinned on him in no time.

People made way just enough for him to pass, but kept touching him; rubbing their hands all over him as he got closer to the security guards. Just before he reached the top step, one very attractive blonde held him by the collar, drew him towards her and gave him a firm, longish kiss, possibly with the intentions of healthy droplets transfer… A shortcut to immunity perhaps. A media reporter also made a move with her mike, but was blocked by one of the guards before he could take action. After presenting his ID, Dickie was taken to an empty waiting lounge. 5 minutes later, a couple of doctors showed up and introduced themselves. One was Dr. Chadwick, and the other one, the woman was Dr. Hill.

Dr. Hill was the one who spoke:

“Mr. Rowbotham, thank you for coming. We prepared a spacious room exclusive for you,” she smiled.

“A room?” Dickie echoed. “What for?”

“To start working on a cure right away, of course.” Dr. Chadwick said. “Your room has an en-suite bathroom and a marvelous view from its window.”

“No, I won’t be staying!” Dickie said raising his voice. “Just take my blood and let me go.”

“I’m afraid we can’t allow that.” Dr. Chadwick said as he signaled to a couple of orderlies in the distance. “You’re the cure and we’re doing this for the greater good.”

“Noooo!” Dickie shouted as the orderlies began dragging him to his isolated room.

“Don’t worry, the vaccine will be out and approved in less than a couple of years.” Dr. Hill smiled behind her mask. “The clock already started ticking!”

How the Collective Unconscious can Eradicate a Pandemic

How the Collective Unconscious can Eradicate a Pandemic

With the Corona Virus pandemic starting to manipulate our old way of living in terms of social distancing, most of us have confined ourselves in our homes and we have become more dreamers than ever; day-dreaming when the sun is up and plain old dreaming when darkness sets in after we finally get to sleep.

Without being fully aware, we have been dreaming for centuries for various reasons, such as self-healing, entertainment, inspiration and most importantly problem-solving as our minds keep working on a problem in the background while we’re shutting off from the material world.

dreams-problem solving

Here’s a true story about how the needle in a sewing machine was invented after a dream showed Elias Howe, the inventor, how placing a hole on the tip of the needle could solve his automated stitching problem that made the machine useless as the thread incapacitated the needle by winding around it after a short while. In Elias Howe’s dream, he was being surrounded by a tribe of fierce cannibals, poking him with the tips of their spears and… weirdly enough, all the spear tips had small holes in them!

The power of dreams in problem-solving and creativity can be seen in other cases as well, like Mendeleev’s precise categorization of periodic elements, or Einstein’s theory of relativity, which were all inspired by dreams.

So, personal problems can be tackled by each relevant person in their dreams, but how about global problems such as famine, global warming, deforestation, traffic, deadly pandemics?

Do we encounter them in our “personal” dreams?

I believe the answer is “yes”, it’s just that our individual minds are too weak to solve any of the above… unless we work together. It’s a fact that collaboration is most effective in problem solving regardless of being in a dream or not.

The idea of “unconscious collaboration” was first noted by me after watching a Japanese anime series (I remember it as “Stein’s Gate”, but might be mistaken), where a man was telling a friend’s child to do her homework just before going to bed if she wanted to do it more easily. With most of the kids having already done their homework, he said she would be able to tap into the collective unconscious and spend less time and effort to finish it.

And yesterday, I had a weird dream that got me thinking about the coronavirus, the collective unconscious, dream problem-solving, supercomputers and the true potential of our brains! and perhaps aliens!

Here’s my theory!

Think of our brains as individual super-computers

And the collective unconscious as a network database

Dreams as a hub to connect into the network

The Corona Virus as the problem in hand…

Every seemingly unimportant detail logged into the database

Some discarded… some marked as “important”

Until a solution presents itself to an able-minded individual…

network-of-dreamers

This “stream of unconsciousness” kept me thinking how our minds are like supercomputers when we are dreaming. Think about it;

* The human mind works like a computer’s RAM, tackling a problem in dreams until we wake up and have no memory of the dream… just like how RAM is wiped clean after a computer shutdown!

* RAM is computer memory, while REM is our dream memory! See, how similar they are in terms of “lexicality”. (I’m definitely overthinking here :))

* SETI has been using computers all around the world on a voluntary basis, in aid to seek extraterrestrial life with focus on “the more the better”!

* Whether it’s the Corona Virus or a computer virus, viruses are bad and they infect.

* And all computers have users…

Dream on!

A New Perspective on Corona virus, the weather and Social Distancing

A New Perspective on Corona virus, the weather and Social Distancing

It wasn’t before bodies started dropping at an increased rate, people all around the world finally realized how serious the Corona virus pandemic was. We tend not to take things seriously unless it hits directly home. And when it does, we feel we have been sucker-punched for reasons unknown.

coronavirus_image_from_cdc

Catastrophes on this scale tend to teach humanity some invaluable lessons. Japan has become the birthplace of master architects, designing earthquake-proof, durable buildings that bend before break, due to the devastating effects of suffering from years of earth-shaking experience over the centuries. Fierce fires have helped us invent fire extinguishers, foam and strategies to contain them before spreading wildly. Floods likewise. What has the Corona virus taught us, then? Well, it taught a whole generation the importance of personal hygiene and how to wash hands!

wash-hands-with-soap

Sadly, it has also shown us (those who can see) that our education systems fail big time. With extensive spoon-feeding over decades, young minds (but not limited to) never get the chance to develop creative thinking skills, questioning skills or basic reasoning. Here’s a tiny example of what millions of people shared on their social media, spreading false info without bothering to take a minute to think:

“Corona virus threat will be over by summer as it cannot survive over 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit).”

Sounds reasonable, right? As we’ve been taught to assume viruses don’t like it hot!

But… the average body temperature of a person is around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit)! Which means it should die out as soon as it makes it’s way into our bodies.

Or…

The fact that Southern hemisphere countries are going through summer while northerners experience winter. As you can see, basic geographical knowledge does not help unless it’s paired with some kind of reasoning.

I am not even going to mention toilet paper hoarders that stockpile to last them decades, the self-quarantine gatherings with 15 or more friends coming from all over the city or some people having the habit of licking their fingertips when they count money, turn pages of a book etc… we seem like we understand… or that we care… but actually, we are all wearing masks, and none of them are for the right reasons.

Let’s focus on the weather a bit more:

sunny-beach

The infection rate in warmer countries are skyrocketing (see Italy, Spain, France and Turkey) while cooler countries are more consistent with the infection rate. There are several reasons for this distinction:

People born in warmer countries have always:

  • Spent a huge proportion of their times outdoors due to the nice weather all year round.
  • Had more outdoor hobbies like swimming etc..
  • Showed their love of people by firm hugs, touches and kisses… (personal space does not exist in some warmer cultures)…
  • Enjoyed large group gatherings…
  • Taken life less seriously…

Now that they have to socially distance themselves from what they had been doing all their lives, they are having difficulty of changing their habits… so, they tend to sneak out and have a day off of their briefest cabin fever experience.

Social distancing can be great for a while (both for us and the world itself) if we stop whining.

We tend to present ourselves to others as what we are not, we lie, hide the truth, get jealous of people without showing them or share useless small talk. Perhaps, it’s time to turn to our inner selves and take a break, focusing on our true needs. This is an opportunity to improve ourselves, which we really didn’t have time before because of extensive socializing.

On the other side of the coin, the pollution over Wuhan, China has dispersed since people stopped going out… the fish in the canals of Venice, Italy have resurfaced again (this needs confirmation)… The world’s taking a break from us. Perhaps, we are the disease and the Earth is just trying to recover.

Redefining Death: A Contemporary Guide

Redefining Death: A Contemporary Guide

As persistent seekers of healthy, prolonged lives and even immortality in the modern ages, we, mortals have always feared “death” as it means a definitive full-stop to what we have valued the most: Life…

But, what is death?

1_Grim-Reaper

According to most dictionaries, “death” is the end of life…

For me, it’s “ceasing to exist in the former plane of existence”… but, I am not all into the heaven-hell thing as I believe those two opposite concepts were designed to direct the majority of the human race into doing good deeds, so that all good-doers are led to believe they will have their afterlife retirement lying in endless flower fields above the clouds, drinking mulled wine from its rivers and having sex for eternity (and that is without the help of Viagra for the elderly men). The evil-doers, on the other hand, will burn in agony for eternity

Eternity? A concept valid for both heaven and hell? Wait! Living for eternity is achieving “immortality” Wasn’t that our final goal? Our seemingly impossible dream? To be immortal? Is reaching our final goal through “death”? Or, was the whole concept of immortality just an unintended word play, the creation of a concept due to bad punctuation and spacing (as in “Immortal” vs. “I’m mortal”)? 

Anyway, going to heaven sounds fun, right?

heaven1

Then, why do we feel so down and depressed when we bid farewell to our loved ones on their voyage to a better place? Are we worried they might end up in hell? Are we just selfish for not being happy for them? Or do we secretly know that heaven does not exist? Who knows…

On another note,

As I said before, “death” is ceasing to exist and it happens to our loved ones all the time and in numerous other ways as well, like:

  • when we break up with a partner and never want to see each other again… or
  • when a loved one moves across the globe for a job opportunity, etc…
  • when someone we trust wrongs us in an unacceptable way…

The people in above cases “cease to exist” just like how I perceive “death”… and in all cases time heals us, gradually soothing the pain. The question here, is how we deal with the sudden loss… do we cry our eyes out until they dry out? do we surrender to booze or other similar ways to dull the pain? or do we seek their familiarity in the experiences of our daily lives and remember how they made us feel? No matter how we might grieve, time is always there for assistance…

As a final thought, I must say “death” according to me is like a paradox similar to the Schrodinger’s Cat… we can never know for sure if our deceased, loved ones are happy or not on a different plane of existence… until we are certain of their fate, they may very well be both happy and not…

Scripted Lives; 5 Acts, not a play…

Scripted Lives; 5 Acts, not a play…

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…
                                                                                   William Shakespeare

typewriter-1462562605lig

Act 1…
The man sees an attractive, young woman sitting alone at the bar. He moves to a better vantage point where he can see her face clearly and throws her a sneak look accompanied by a soft smile. The woman smiles back without breaking eye contact (If she doesn’t, the man starts from square one with a different actor). It’s the cue for the man to make a move. He does.

Act 2…
The man engages in small talk about the weather in the last few days. The woman agrees with a few comments of her own. They seem to have an excellent time although neither is into meteorology. The man offers to buy her a drink… one more of whatever she’s having. They start laughing at everything. Being funny ceases to be a requirement after this point.

Act 3…
They leave the bar together and go to whoever’s house is closer. They have sex. The man whispers how beautiful the woman is into the nearest ear. The woman instructs the man to go faster… or harder… or however she wants it.

Act 4…
They discover common hobbies, feel safe and loved in each other’s arms, and decide to go for a romantic relationship. The man buys her presents, the woman makes frequent surprises to him. The love between them is so profound that jealousy starts ruling the relationship!!! (Really ironic this one… As when couples love each other, they should develop trust not jealousy). They decide to get married though. After all, marriage is a sort of guarantee that they won’t cheat on one another, right?

Act 5…
As they can’t stand each other after countless fits; the man and the woman go for a divorce. After the mourning phase (or the relief), each return to Act 1 separately and play the same game expecting different results.

Just like theatrical plays, the illusion called life relies heavily on inter-human relationships…

Now, stop here for a moment and think about how you interact with other people…

Is every decision you make, truly yours? Does every word you say, belong to you?

or

Do we make choices in our relationships with others and carry on upon pre-taught thinking?

Acting out scenes with pre-written scripts like some untalented actors?

There are various books on pick up lines out in the market for the socially-challenged… Pieces of script, just in need of personal fillers.

Imagine reading a book or watching a film for the thousandth time… knowing the ending, but still trying to enjoy it, hoping the outcome would be different. It’s sheer disappointment as it’s the same title with a different set of characters after all.

Why do we do this?

Why do we keep on living li(v)es of who we are not?

The Near-Death of Decent Content

The Near-Death of Decent Content

This article is a premature obituary of decent artistic content… in every aspect of our lives…

Decent Content in Entertainment and Art Forms

Early 21st century – 2020 (and ongoing/down-falling)

We have arrived at a crucial point in our mundane timeline when real and engaging content started slipping out of our existence at an ever accelerating pace… replaced by uninteresting shenanigans of the modern, content-less society.

Good content does not pay anymore…
Content does not pay anymore…
It has lost all its value…

Here’s why:

Leonardo created “La Giaconda (The Mona Lisa)” in a period from 1503 to 1517…it’s still the most visited attraction ever in one of the biggest museums in the world…

Circa 1500, Michelangelo carved out “David” giving life to a 5-meter (17 ft.), 6+ tons of marble… which still stands the test of time with all its glory…

And let’s not forget about other works of art created before the 21st century like “La Guernica” by Picasso or “The Scream” by Edward Munch… those were the times when art became alive…

In 2019… we had a browned-out banana taped onto a wall sold for $120000… The proud buyer and current owner defended the masterpiece as “… the unicorn of the art world…” Not only that he could have created a better piece with a fresh banana costing him less than a dollar, what would he do when the banana decomposes completely? Replacing the banana at regular intervals would certainly kill the originality of the fruity masterpiece…no?

Banart4
The Priceless Banana Art…

The sad thing is that renaissance art masterpieces or any good art is truly appreciated only by a handful of people… the others most likely swarm museums just to take selfies with the art, and to make their social media followers/friends jealous.

This is the death of art

Now, let’s have a quick look at the demise of writing… mainly script writing for contemporary Hollywood blockbusters…

Imagine a time 150 years + in the future when the only technological breakthrough seems to be modernized tanning beds capable of curing every disease while the world seems to have stuck in the 90s technology otherwise…

Or… a group of scientists land on a hostile alien world and one of them decides to pat a viper-like hissing monster with affection… and no… he wasn’t mind-controlled. How did he ever become a man of science anyway? Everything’s possible on big screen!

Or… a thin, feather weight ex-special forces operative lady takes on multiple trained assassins three times her size in hand-to-hand combat with a gaping gunshot wound in her leg.

Or… two science-enthusiast buddies invent a time machine and choose to travel 17 years into the past to allegedly stop a world-wide catastrophic event which started 25 years ago.

There are tons of examples of poor writing like the ones above in nearly all recent movies. Here’s the funny thing… all the titles exemplified previously have IMDb ratings of 6 and above. As people who gave high ratings are highly affectionate towards an actor or two in the production, no matter how bad the script is or how horribly the character is portrayed. Can you guess the titles of these three blockbusters (the last one is a series and not so popular like others)?

Music hasn’t been doing great either…

We tend to listen to the latest crap not because of musical or lyrical quality, but just because it blocks the ear-assassinating everyday clamor which is only a tad worse than what we pay for…

Right? Or… why would we just keep listening to band of mismatched instruments out-of-beat with lyrics like:

“Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess why they call it window pane…”

(I know I am going to be roasted by Eminem fans… but the word play on “pane” and “pain” is unbearable.)

Or…

“Are we humans?
Or are we dancer?”

(Or are you just untalented musicians with bad grammar?)

Lastly, check your favorite social media for good content… or just some content… I bet you’ll find none other than Instagram posts showing floor tiles with the tip of the big toe of the artist penetrating the shot from a corner with the message: “Good morning y’all!” Thousands of likes guaranteed…

floortoe

Or…

A tweet from a celebrity saying:

“Today is Saturday, tomorrow will be Sunday and then Monday.”

It must have been very informative, enlightening and inspiring indeed as it got tens of thousands of likes and nearly three thousand retweets shortly.

Or…

A young, good-looking youtuber making thousands of dollars monthly by blabbering about her dull daily routine.

So, what can be done to revive decent content? Is it too late?

Not yet. But it’s getting to a point of no return.

Just try not to appreciate horrible content because someone with good looks created it. The more we appreciate bad content, the more they will be encouraged to create even worse content. Support true artists for their art and good content (not because they are cool/famous/good-looking) as they need some boost to be even better.

Why we need Drama and Pain in Life

Why we need Drama and Pain in Life

Routine

Our lives are destined to get dull as soon as we’re born. As routines take over our childlike imagination when we step into adulthood, it gets even more boring; getting up, taking a shower, having breakfast, going to work, having lunch, coming back, watching TV with the usual wine glass in hand and going to bed for the next same day. That’s also basically why we all love weekends or off days, as they break the dullness of the routines we all loathe. We can go camping one weekend and stay home doing nothing the next. Any out-of-the-ordinary activity will make us feel good and boost our morale.
Routines are boring whether it’s the activities or our emotional state. We crave for changes subconsciously.
And that’s exactly why we need ups and down in our emotional state. To break the cycle… as against order, we are hopeless rebels inside.
Picture our heartbeat lines going up and down with each breath we take… a beating heart is the means of survival while a flatline kills us. Our emotional line tends to work the same way, never wanting to be on a dull, single flatline.
We make bad decisions all the time even if we are not complete idiots, choose abusive people to be our one-sided love affairs and torment ourselves for pleasure at every instant we can…

 

We are indeed drama addicts, inflicting self-pain just to break routine.