As the Monty Python troupe said, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Now that the zombie apocalypse is upon us, I guess it’s time we actually started dealing with things. Can we do that? It’s not too great a stretch to hang many of society’s ills on rampant individualism. Are we up to the challenge? One of the best memes I’ve seen lately says, “Your grandparents were asked to go to war. You are being asked to sit on the couch.” Although it hasn’t yet been ordered here in Southern California, Joni and I have been sheltering in place since last Friday, except for a walk every day, where we stay well away from other people. It’s not so difficult, and it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Whole Foods still has plenty of nacho makins’ and is delivering, after all. We can do this, people!
Now, as far as Adventure Journal operations, we are continuing as normal, but with more precautions. AJ16, the spring issue of our quarterly, is being handed off to the U.S. Postal Service today for delivery to subscribers. That can take a few weeks, as many of you know. The magazine is produced by machines and boxed by hand, by people wearing gloves. Coronavirus survives no longer than 24 hours on paper and cardboard, so your only risk is if your mail carrier sneezes or coughs on the package. We’ve taken an abundance of precaution with our mail—we let it sit overnight, then I spray it with Lysol. You can also wipe your mail with rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach (keep in mind bleach could fade the cover of the magazine).
We received our shipment—the ones we send to shops and sell individually—while I was in the middle of writing this. I’ve already sprayed those boxes with Lysol, and for single copies or four-packs sent directly from us, we are packaging them using nitrile gloves and we also hit them with a blast of Lysol. For AJ’s pocket notebooks, which are shrink-wrapped, we wipe them with rubbing alcohol before packaging. These small steps should eliminate what is already a very low risk, but for the moment I think these are the kinds of precautions we all should be taking.
Also, we are continuing to process orders every day and are already hard at work on the summer and fall issues. Regardless of how all this plays out, we will continue to bring to you, both online and in print, our ongoing exploration of what it means to live with adventure in your life, and hopefully keep you stoked and inspired and perhaps welcomely distracted.
Adventure Journal, as some of you might know, isn’t a corporate entity or institution. It’s more of an idea and collective passion. My wife, Joni, and I run it out of our house. My dear friend Justin Housman oversees digital editorial from his house in San Francisco. Our next door neighbor Beth Norby manages customer service, these days from the safety of her own house and laptop, while Joni and I fulfill orders. Jeff Moag, who plays a key role in editing AJ in print, works off his laptop at home about a mile from here, balancing AJ and other duties with parenting his two daughters. Our kids are mostly grown—our son is now out on his own and living in Los Angeles and our daughter returned from college in San Francisco last night. We didn’t hug her when she arrived, and with my 86-year-old mother, who lives just down the street, we’re avoiding any contact whatsoever.
I’m sharing all this as a reminder of something that is easy to forget—that entities are made up of people. We talk of the economy, and we talk of industries, and of government agencies like the CDC or FEMA, but it’s all just people—people who right now are scared, uncertain, and frustrated. Justin and I were scheduled to leave Friday on a product-testing / story-gathering week in southern Utah, some much-needed time in the field, but San Francisco is on lockdown and I can’t imagine being away from my people right now. This is a time to be with the ones you love, if you can, and it’s no great sacrifice to postpone the trip.
That word, sacrifice. In my writing, I very much avoid telling other people what to do. Nothing rankles me more than an evangelist trying to persuade me of something. Indeed, Adventure Journal and our story decisions are founded on sharing what we think matters and let you make up your own mind to their worth. (Opinion pieces are opinion pieces, of course, and may diverge from that.) But I’m old enough and aware enough to understand two things about this pandemic: It is a threat unlike anything we’ve seen in a century, and simple measures taken now will reduce the severity for all. I have been living with the phrase “an abundance of caution” for at least the last 10 days, and I urge you to do the same. Staying home can be monotonous, I know, but jeez: Watching Netflix / following YouTube yoga videos / doing 1,000 burpees > millions of deaths from a virus. By sacrificial standards, it’s not much.
Please do everything you possibly can to fight this: Live as if you have coronavirus and don’t want to infect others, stay at home, and work on your amazing adventure plans for when the dust clears.