The Darkest Hour

I have wondered a lot about whether to skip my weekly update because, frankly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to be that ray of sunshine and hope you all wish me to be.I might not be amusing.I might even not be able to crack a joke, this time.But I’ll try. Things have been grim, […]

I have wondered a lot about whether to skip my weekly update because, frankly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to be that ray of sunshine and hope you all wish me to be.
I might not be amusing.
I might even not be able to crack a joke, this time.
But I’ll try.

I already told you to shut up.

Things have been grim, this week: we’ve lost a friend.
Those among you who speak Italian and those who master the Google-translating side of the Force might already know this by reading my previous post: the virus has claimed the head coach and founder of our American Football Team, the one I’ve been following and press-covering for years. It’s the #Wilson on this blog. It’s the Rams Gameday profile on Facebook.

The coach was a peculiar guy. If you have to read anything about him, don’t read me but read NFL player Michael Lodish and what he wrote in his obituary on Facebook. He writes way better than me.

He was headstrong like the Rams he named the team after, stubborn and argumentative to say the least. He didn’t like the way things were managed and he believed in following the highest moral standard when it comes to sport. He despised politics and money, believing they brought a taint to what the sport should represent. And he believed in winning, but the kind of victories you feel within. He strongly believed in football as a means of growth and he was a father to all of the team.
As you do with a father, I quarreled with him, both privately and publicly. He could really drive you crazy, with his ungrammatical usage of words, his public rants with no punctuation, his relentless fights against what he thought was not right. And his custom of not punting at a fourth if he thought he could make it. By God, could he drive you crazy.
And we loved him.
We fucking loved him, with that way he had of giving you unrequired advice about anything, from your job to giving birth, because he had done it before and he knew how to do it better.
For those of you who know football, his infamous favorite play was a double reverse fake pass, a sort of mix between the double reverse and the Statue of Liberty. Yeah. I know. You can imagine how happy the offensive line is. You can imagine the fabric of the kind of guy who calls that scheme.
And this week we lost him.

Our National Federation for American Football and lots of teams paid homage to him by changing their avatar to this

So, how’s grief – you might ask – when you’re on lockdown.
Well, it sucks.
It sucks because isolation tries to deprive us of all those social mechanisms we put in place in order to cope with grief itself. And we need to come up with new ways.
This week I’ve organized and participated in a wake, where the team came together and shared stories as you would have done in old times, around a fire, in the Great Hall.
This week, the Great Hall was Zoom.
The fire was our 24” monitor, in the midst of the cluttered mess of our (not so) temporary working stations.

This week I’ve assisted in the technical tests to ensure the funeral could be held anyways. And how do you hold a funeral, these days? You stay at the window with your cellphone, waiting for the hearse to come through, and you stream pictures of the coffin to all your friends. And you bless your lucky star: you are able to pay your respects like this only because you have a friend working at the funeral home and he’s taking a slightly longest route to go to the cemetery. Otherwise, you just get a phone call. They put him in a coffin. They take him away. And he’s gone.
So, this is how you hold a funeral, these days.
Broadcasting through your cellphone.
On Zoom.
With 60 other people crying, in the same virtual room.

I know. I’m being grim. I warned you.

And numbers are still going up. Our major is still broadcasting his daily War Bulletin and is doing a great job. Still. Even if I’m being reassured that the growth is non-exponential, there’s a geographical factor no one seems to be taking into consideration while looking at numbers. You can’t analyze those numbers without data on how people are coming in contact with each other. It’s system dynamics at its more complex peak. And we do not have the data to launch such a simulation, leave alone the computing power. We have no means of knowing who is staying at home and how the thing is spreading. We have no means of knowing when will we be able to say “ok, we’re safe”. If ever.

In his daily strip, Leo Ortolani is describing the next Comicon (Lucca Comics, if you’re familiar: one of the most crowded conventions ever, held in the center of a small historical town). I think it needs no translation.

In the last part of the strip, the caption says “Leo Ortolani’s New Book”. The wife is asking him “What page did you get to?”, at which he answers “28. Feel how nice and warm it is”.

It encapsulates a lot about how I feel. We are approaching our fifth week of isolation. I miss my friends. I know things will never be the same again and I feel we’re fooling ourselves in trying to come up with new ways of doing what we did before because maybe we need to come up with new ways of doing new things. How can we think that our Industry will stay unaffected? And it is weird because I know that, working in digital transformation, I should be the one providing answers. And I feel guilty. And I feel sorry. And tired. I feel really tired.

My students are struggling because their schools are overloading them with assignments, webcasts, and homework.
My teammates are struggling, because of the loss of our coach.
My family is struggling because my father has never felt so lonely and my grandmother is buried alive in the retirement house. It goes without saying that I can’t go to visit her. It goes without saying that people are terrified of the virus sneaking into such a home and go rampant there.
My favorite artists are struggling, they have been hit hard and we need them and we might not have a way to support them, because we’re struggling too.
My Country is struggling, the economy will be so bad we can’t imagine how things will be when we will get out of this. If ever.

Allow me a picture that has been circling on social media. Apparently, these are the scars our heroes in healthcare are wearing.

My friends around the world are struggling and no one has been left untouched: New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States. Particularly the latter. I constantly think of my friends in places where healthcare is lacking and leadership is questionable. As I was writing last week, I feel lucky. I know I am.

I love my house, albeit being in a super-cluttered, book-overloaded 45 sqm of a house.
My soulmate and I, we love staying in, cooking (well, he does the cooking, I help with the eating), playing, fooling around.
We are healthy.
I am wealthy enough to afford to buy food without cluttering the already overloaded supermarket.
Work is going well again, and I have my boys rowing with me.
My very dear friend has time to spare, at last, and we went back to writing our novel. is one of the resources you might want to check out.

Also, we are fucking resourceful. You might have read the story about Italians hacking a Decathlon mask with 3d-printed parts in order to cook up a respirator. Apparently it’s true enough for Decathlon to issue a weird “we don’t take responsibility but we feel like assholes so maybe we might be able to help” statement. We know it’s non-standard. We know it might not work. You’ve clearly never been to an Italian construction site if you think this might stop us. Sometimes we act like fools. We have a tendency to cut through corners. But we get shit done.


The thing about the darkest hour is that you’re still hoping things will not get grimmer than this. You are still hoping people will keep coming together, with boats and resourcefulness, and we will get out of this with a stronger sense of community and unbreakable bonds.

I need a hug.

Who can provide one, today?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.