Opportunities that come from difficulties

Michael Alcorn
Posted 5/12/22

The last two years have represented, to be kind, great difficulties. From the obvious health challenges COVID-19 causes to the minor disruptions to our everyday routines, nothing has seemed normal. And even now that we’re generally trying to be normal, we’re not.

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Opportunities that come from difficulties

Posted

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity — Albert Einstein

The last two years have represented, to be kind, great difficulties. From the obvious health challenges COVID-19 causes to the minor disruptions to our everyday routines, nothing has seemed normal. And even now that we’re generally trying to be normal, we’re not.

But, from those difficulties, there have been some opportunities realized, both trivial and significant. Following up last week’s theme of “does it work,” here are some more observations.

The trivial: in the summer of 2020, one of the few activities everybody could continue to take part in ended up being golf. But many golf courses, in deference to social distancing, had to alter the way they did business, spreading out the intervals of tee times so groups wouldn’t congregate at the tee. Most golf courses have gone back to the old way; but there is one course in Arvada that has left its tee intervals at 12 minutes (one group tees off at 9:00, the next at 9:12, 9:24, etc…), and the difference is remarkable! Short tee intervals mean really long rounds and no rhythm to the game; long intervals vastly enhance the golf experience. Like I said, it’s trivial—but it represents people who learned from the difficulties.

The significant: Back in the “before times,” remember the annual push to get the flu vaccine? That vaccine was always hit or miss, because each years’ vaccine inevitably missed several strains of the seasonal flu. That’s why, some years, as many as 80,000 Americans would die from flu. Well, in the winter of 2020, different pharmaceutical companies were working on a “universal flu vaccine;” they were diverted into solving COVID-19, but the two efforts have become intertwined, and soon, it seems likely, not only will we have COVID-19 vaccines, but the flu vaccine itself will be “supersized” in its effectiveness.

Not so much working: schools. Just this week, Denver Public Schools announced it was laying off 131 employees due to reduced funding, due to reduced enrollment; JeffCO Schools had to go $36.6 million into debt spending this year to cover the reduced enrollment funding; Google “school enrollment declines” and you get 62 million hits from everywhere around the country. Why is this happening? Some is demographics — people are having fewer kids. But schools know this, and build it in to their planning. What they didn’t plan on was all the kids who went elsewhere for school during COVID (to get in-person schooling or to capitalize on the benefits of online learning) staying elsewhere. And, as much as I love and respect my colleagues and friends who work in the schools, the public relations people (politics, COVID messaging, etc…) leave something to be desired.

Also not so much working around the schools in JeffCO…. Have you ever noticed how poorly designed the traffic flow is around most JeffCO schools? The local high school has 2,000 students and a couple hundred staff all arrive in a 30-minute window (mostly within 10) to a facility that has three entrances, all within a couple hundred yards of each other on one minor suburban artery. Still worse is another nearby school that has similar numbers … and just one entrance. I know sometimes you just gotta deal with the tract of land that you have, but…that’s not how they do things in Cherry Creek. Just sayin’

That, of course, has nothing to do with COVID-19. It’s just a thing with me.

I’ll end with this thought: Joe Sakic, the general manager of the Colorado Avalanche, did not make a big, splashy move at the trade deadline this year to finish the push for the Stanley Cup. Instead, he made small, subtle moves that plugged small holes on the depth chart. And every one of them has paid dividends in the first two games of the playoffs. Doesn’t work: flashy checkers; Does work: chess.

Michael Alcorn is a former teacher and current writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at mjalcorn@comcast.net. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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