Once upon a time, "tick tock" was an expression used to signal a clock countdown. Today, it's the name of social media phenomenon. And a political pawn?

The pandemic didn't stop apple fans from buying apples. Or, Apple fans from buying Apple products.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red didn't even know that Apple stores had closed, so didn't realize that all Apple stores in U.S. open for business for the first time since start of the pandemic, until Black let her know.

That's probably because Red isn't a huge fan of technology, and except for an iPad (which she mostly uses for Zoom and FaceTime sessions because her computer monitor doesn't have a camera) doesn't own any other Apple products. Yes, both her daughters keep telling her to get an iPhone. But Red hates touch screens, so getting her to switch from her Blackberry (which she loves due to its keyboard) would be a huge change and nothing that will happen in the near future.

So, initially, it didn't make any difference to Red whether Apple stores are open or closed. Until Black pointed out that throughout the pandemic, Apple had opened and closed stores around the world depending on local conditions, so this was a milestone for Apple. And an indicator that Apple thinks the worst is behind us. However, Black couldn't help but add one more thought,

Apple has advised that just because its stores are open does not mean they are fully open for walk-ins. It may require an appointment. Hmmm … make an appointment to spend money shopping in person versus just doing it online in your PJs …?
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Texans are tough. And independent. But that may not be enough to win the war against the coronavirus.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We were born and raised in New York, so although we both now live in Texas (Black got here with the oil and gas industry in the late 70s, whereas Red arrived in 2001 as her husband has a career that relocated them around the world), we sometimes struggle to understand the Texas way of doing things.

Case in point … trying to figure out Governor Greg Abbott's recent decision to end statewide mask mandates and allow all businesses to operate at full capacity. Red's first and foremost a mom, so it's not surprising she prefers a protective and overly cautious approach focused on keeping everyone safe, even if that means being inconvenienced for a little longer. And while she appreciated that the vaccines are now becoming more readily available, so few people have been vaccinated, which to her way of thinking is even more reason to "stay the course". Why rush into anything right now? And why not err on the side of caution?

Black, given her corporate background, combined with her pragmatism, has looked at the pandemic from a very different perspective, although she gets to the same conclusion. And she believes Red's "safety first" approach has important business implications as consumers will only go where they feel safe. And what was her reaction to the Governor's announcement? It initially featured some "colorful language" but was soon followed by one of her analogies, that while amusing Red, also made perfect sense to her,

I was just starting to feel better about going out into the world (masked, of course) but may continue to hide away as Texas is returning to its roots of the wild, wild, West. But instead of cowboys and masked bandits … we have unmasked, well, you decide what to call them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. And many of Texas' largest cities have already announced they will keep requiring masks in municipal buildings after the mandate ends. So, Texas businesses, school districts, and individuals will have to decide for themselves what to do. And at the end of the day, all we can do is hope that everyone will make the right decisions.

We do not like racist images. We do not like them here or there. We do not like them anywhere.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Black first emailed Red that six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published because of racist and insensitive images, Red's reaction was quick and questioning,

I need to read those links, but my first reaction is … seriously? Is nothing sacred anymore?

Red's was concerned that the pendulum's swinging so far to one side of things and so fast, and wants to know that each case is truly being looked at on its own merits or, perhaps more accurately, faults.

Black, knowing her sister well, let her know that Dr. Seuss Enterprises proactively made the decision after working with a panel of experts, including educators. In fact, the decision was made last year, but they waited until Dr. Seuss's birthday to make the announcement. She also added, as the business half of Red & Black, that she didn't think these were any of their top-selling books, so would have minimal impact on their sales. However, she was confident any remaining copies would sell out fast and become collector's items.

Regardless, Red at that point understood the reasoning but still felt the same way that she feels about other similar decisions to "ban" things, such as the movie "Gone With The Wind" (they re-released it with a new introduction) or statues of Confederate leaders – you can't ignore history. And as a lover of history, she knows there's much to be learned, and on that we both agree.

To use one of Black's favorite words, we understand WHY these decisions are made, but think it's equally important that you consider using these things as teaching tools. You can't change how people saw things at the time, but you can change how you use them now. Acknowledging and discussing things, rather than just purging them, is the way to make lasting – and impactful – change.