By Pam Burke 

View from the North 40: The distance between you and me is a comfort zone


March 20, 2020

My hours spent actually in the office were moved around so I now come to work late at night or early in the morning, like, late-late or early-early when no one is there so that I can do my part to help us practice social distancing.

I really don’t need much practice in social distancing — like practice-practice because I’m not good at it. No. It’s my natural state. I was born for this. I am joined by all the other socially awkward kids and adults in finally feeling a little triumphant right now. Finally, the world will envy us for a change as we blossom in an environment of near solitude that we have longed for.

With the prospect of being able to spend all these daylight hours at home, I drug out my to-do list, added a few items to it and promptly sat down at my computer to run full tilt down a wild and twisting rabbit hole into the internet. It’s all stretches of COVID-19 statistics and stories, funny Youtube videos, educational websites and an overabundance of articles I pretended were to better my mind.

Did you know that fat cells aren’t stuffed full of fat? They have fat, of course, hence the name, but they also store hormones, vitamins and toxins, said Sara Chodash in her Popular Science article, “When you lose weight, your fat cells don’t just let go of fat,” republished on

Fat cells are microscopic hoarders stuffing all the trash and treasure they can find underneath the skin. If they were preparing to self-quarantine, they would have a pantry stuffed with cheap ramen noodles, fresh oranges, and bleach … for gargling.

Chodash goes on to say that when we lose weight, everything in the fat cells gets dumped into our bodies. The trash-treasure contents drain from the cells, then overwhelm the body with their presence until they are secreted through our urine and our breath.

My take-away is, yes, your breath can be toxic-ly obese. Just sayin’. Ew.

Then there’s those hungry monkeys in Lopburi, Thailand. I don’t remember where I saw the video, but you can see that they’re so used to thousands of visitors feeding them every day that they are swarming the city streets, trolling for food. When one of them finds food the others mob him like he just scored the last package of toilet paper in the store — so, yes, it’s violent.

But not everything I’ve read has struck me as a metaphor for these weird times. On the other hand, it might have to be reinterpreted for our current reality because the Nov. 28, 2015 article “How to Talk to Anyone: The Experts’ Guide,” by Rosie Ifould for The Guardian, clearly needs to be re-imagined to be COVID-19 compliant.

How to talk to children and teenagers? Nowhere did it say anything about parents yelling “Do your schoolwork! Wash your hands! And for crying out loud, stop touching each other!”

How to talk to strangers? From a standard health and safety distance of 6 feet away, of course.

How to talk to your doctor? Over the phone or, if it has to be in person, with everyone present in full protective gear.

How to talk to your date? Via Skype. Do not, and that bears repeating, do not meet a date in person — you don’t know where that person has traveled. A guy might be a social deviant who touches public handrails. A girl might have a lisp like a germ sprinkler.

Safety up, folks. Live smart. Keep your distance. And if you need to reach me at the office, you better get up early, and just call, because I won’t let you into the building. And I will be perfectly happy about it.


Also, do not — this bears repeating with all caps — DO NOT gargle with bleach at .


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