Welcome to IdeaJones.com

Articles, radio stories, ads, columns, corporate communications, novels or scripts – we’re never short of ideas. You can see some of our designs in our Redbubble shop, and read Joey’s political humor blog, Dear Donny: Presidential Pen Pals, right here at IdeaJones.

Joey Jones has published and edited many newspaper and magazine articles, radio stories, advertisements and commentaries, and has ghostwritten everything from speeches to love letters. She is a past Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting semifinalist and Fade In: Screenwriting Awards quarterfinalist. She also gathers sound and conducts interviews as a freelance field producer in the Sacramento area, and her on-air performance as “The Dying Fish” can be heard in the Water Education commercial series.

Mark Jones makes a living producing radio shows (like Connections on Capital Public Radio’s Music Station). As Martin Jenkins, he’s been heard on CapRadio’s four news stations, and sometimes—during fund drives—on the Music Station. Mark has also sung, acted and directed local theater and TV.

We’re about the story. Whether it’s the facts and figures of nonfiction, or the deeper truth of fiction, we want to find the right words, sounds, and/or images to get it across.

We’re also about the process. Do the work right, and on time. Life’s too short to make things harder than they have to be.

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Back In The Saddle Again (Well, in, then out, then in…)

So I haven’t been keeping up on our website until just recently. My new hashtag is #IBlameCovid. It’s been 5 months since I was first diagnosed. Here we are in July (almost August) and I’m definitely improved (I know March happened, but don’t ask me about it), but not completely over it yet.

The main lingering symptom is exhaustion. In March, I found myself having to sit on the floor of my shower because I couldn’t stand up long enough to rinse the shampoo from my hair. Now? I can shower, then I have to lie down for an hour. So improvement, yes, but not back to normal.

That’s a common misunderstanding about #Covid19. People think you have it and you die, or you get better, end of report. Not really. For many people, even a mild to moderate case (like mine), where you didn’t have to be hospitalized, produces lingering and often debilitating symptoms that can come and go unpredictably.

Thinking is physical work and it tires me out. Laugh if you want to, it’s true. Sometimes I hunt for common words or to labor to finish a thought. It gets better, then returns. I’m just glad my brain came back at all. For quite a while, I struggled to follow a thought from one end to the other, and conversation left me with crushing fatigue.

I’m writing and editing again, and my brain seems to function, until I get tired, so my working hours are brief and interrupted by rest breaks while I lie down, but at least I can work a bit. I just have to accept that an hour of writing will be followed by an hour (or more) of lying down. It’s frustrating, and I was wrestling with guilt and frustration, but I remembered the lesson a dear friend taught me.

Merlin was my service dog. He had been a starving stray puppy, but he still approached every morning cheerfully, making the most of whatever life offered him that day. We call it The Lesson Of Merlin. He taught me that it doesn’t matter what you planned, or what you feel your situation “should” be. What matters is meeting life where it is and doing what you can with what you have to work with.

Merlin, who tried to teach me all he could.

Which isn’t to say I’ve magically become a yogi and avatar of enlightenment. I have to remind myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to look at what I have available that day and make the most of it. If it’s a bad post-Covid day, that may mean lying on the couch all day, watching Shakespearean comedies, history programs and writing classes on tv. If it’s a good day, it’s a bit of housecleaning, writing, playing with my pups, talking with Mark. My challenge is to find joy in whatever I have.

The lesson of Merlin.

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Health Tracker Form

I belong to an online support group for #Covid19 “long haulers,” people who’ve had the disease and are experiencing symptoms weeks or even months along. Most of the people I’ve interacted with have been great — but it’s still not a club you want to join, for obvious reasons.

Early on after I got Covid, I stumbled across a form created by a doctor (I’m sorry I can’t recall his name) for patients to track their symptoms, to make it easier to talk to your doctor. It occurred to me that it would be useful, not just then, but going forward. You need to collect enough information to know what your normal “baseline” is, after all.

If you regularly keep this information, when something goes amiss, you can let your doctor know what’s going on. No trying to recall which day you felt which symptom, how bad was it, what was going on that day. You have it available. I created mine in Open Office as a spreadsheet and included the readings I take and the symptoms I was experiencing.

I’ve never been good at keeping a journal, but this has turned into my journal. I note how I’m feeling, what’s going on, in addition to vital statistics and any symptoms.

If you’re already experiencing health issues, first off, I’m sorry to hear that! If you try out this form, just remember you can adapt and personalize it to fit you. You might have something that isn’t on here, for example. Adjust to fit. Below is a link to the original form that I adapted (scroll down and you’ll see it. This form was developed early on in the #Covid19 pandemic and doesn’t include all of the possible symptoms we now know can be part of this illness. Add whatever you’re experiencing. Even it it’s not Covid, this info can be very useful for you, and your doctor:

https://campbellteaching.co.uk/covid19/

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Cleaning House

This is the email I’ll be sending (or snail mail letter where they don’t accept emails) over the next week. Feel free to adapt it for your own use and send it out. This is an “all hands on deck” situation. Tough when we already had one going (Covid19), but there you are. Btw, if you ever lamented not living through the 1960s, congratulations! You made it!

I’ve been a vocal supporter of civil rights since college. It breaks my heart that we still have so much work to do to improve things, but then, improving humanity is much like housework — you have to attend to it regularly.

If the law isn’t applied fairly to people who don’t seem much like you, don’t expect it to be applied fairly to you. If there’s no justice for some of us, there’s none for any of us.

I don’t know what it’s like to live as a black or brown person in my country, but I do have experience of being judged by my looks, gender and age, so I can connect to the issues that way. I understand what it’s like to be abused, harmed physically and mentally, with the understanding that such treatment came not from the inadequacies or ignorance of my abuser, but were the “fault” of who and what I was.

Government will never be perfect, because it’s created and run by humans, and humans aren’t perfect, but striving for that perfection improves it. So we must and should hold our police departments and governments accountable. Mistakes will still be made — but how do they address those mistakes? How do they work to reduce them?

How do they clean the house?

Make sure your voter registration is up to date and correct, and request an absentee ballot, if you can. If you can’t, tell your state legislators to fix it and don’t take “no” for an answer. And vote, not just in federal elections. As we’re seeing, city, county and state elections make a big difference in how your daily life goes.

All honor & respect to the non-violent protesters exercising their Constitutional rights. I stand beside you, demanding that our system of government do better by all of us.

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Peeing In Humanity’s Pool

It’s not politics. It’s good manners (and being a good person).

Etiquette has always interested me. I noticed as a little kid that there were different rules for different people and situations. Mom pointed out early on that we don’t speak the same way to the minister as we do to friends on the playground. Twirling so your dress flies up and your underwear shows is okay at a dance, but a bad idea at the office.

The etiquette evolving for this time of pandemic interests me. On a purely emotional level, it’s an unpleasant surprise to see how many people think not wearing a mask or distancing is some sort of statement promoting some “cause,” as opposed to simply being a practical thing recommended by experts in medicine, science and public health to slow down the spread of a very contagious new disease.

I suspect many of them are simply terrified. Human beings don’t make our best decisions when we’re scared. The brain stops accepting any new input that’s complicated and we don’t have processing power or time to untangle anything confusing. It’s easier for some people to respond to fear by refusing to believe anything is wrong, because admitting what’s going on means accepting a certain amount of powerlessness.

Why not do the things we know help, like staying home as much as we can until a safe, effective vaccine is available? Why refuse to distance, or wear masks? Those give us what power we have in this situation, so why give them up?

In part, because it’s quickly become part of a person’s identity. Meaning has been attached to taking those steps. They’ve gone from being sensible precautions to personal statements. But in that process, I think some people are mistaking the statements they’re making.

Yes, liberty is important. Freedom is crucial. But they don’t come without cost. We live in a society with other people. The basic deal is that it’s understood we will cooperate for the good of us all. I’m free to drive a car, but not into your living room. I have to take a test, get a license, and obey traffic laws — and I have the right to expect that you will, too. My stopping at a red light protects other drivers (and me). Them stopping protects me (and them). We protect each other.

It’s the liberty bargain. I’m free to exercise by throwing punches — but not at your face. Your face has the right to be unpunched by me. My rights aren’t the only ones that matter. Yours matter, too. You have a right for me not to casually risk exposing you to a potentially deadly disease.

If the only thing masks and distancing accomplished was making some people feel safer during this chaotic time, they’d still be worth wearing. It’s good manners. It’s kind. It’s caring. And if people feel safe, if they see you doing your part to help, they’re more likely to feel safe enough to come out and spend money.

When someone wears a mask or distances during a global pandemic, it’s not a political statement. The statement being made is that this person thinks other people matter enough to protect or comfort them — their own family, friends, neighbors and coworkers, that exhausted nurse or doctor who’s been tending coronavirus patients (and watching people die when they couldn’t be saved), that researcher getting close to finding a vaccine to protect people, that truck driver or grocery clerk risking health and life to keep the groceries coming.

It’s not a flag. It’s not a magic amulet (you have to wear them correctly for them to work — just having one on your person doesn’t protect anyone).

It’s your way of saying whether you’re mature enough to understand that freedom comes with responsibility, kind enough to help other people feel a bit safer in trying times, smart enough to understand that not doing it makes us lock down longer and likely will get us locked down again. You’re willing to do your own bit to help get your community, your country, and your world through the biggest challenge we’re all likely to face in our lifetimes.

So make your statement — but make sure you know what statement you’re really making.

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