I’m not sure I should really be writing a blog post right now, but I think maybe it’ll help me sort some stuff out. I haven’t been sleeping well, so it might not be super-coherent. Bear with me. (Or feel free to bail out. No one really needs to read my ramblings.)
I’ve now been working from home for two weeks, and it looks like my group will continue doing that for the foreseeable future. I think that our management has accepted this as the new normal this past week, since they’ve now deactivated our access cards for the building and told us that if we need anything from our desks that we need to get manager approval first, then the item can be picked up at the loading dock. And that we should only do this for critical items like medication or glasses. So my plan of going in at some point and picking up my granola bars, tissues, and hand sanitizer is now out of the question. Oh well. It’s amazing how fast we went from “you can maybe work from home, I guess” to “you can’t enter the building even if you want to.”
I’ve got things set up now so that I can be reasonably productive from home. But, honestly, not nearly as productive as I can be in the office. I really only have room here for a single-monitor setup, and I’m used to working in a multiple-monitor setup. And the office chair that I have at home is OK for occasional use, but not really great for a full eight-hour work day. I’m wondering if it’s worth blowing $1300 on an Aeron chair for home use. That’s what we have in the office (though I’m not sure of the exact model we use). Or maybe I should figure out some way to use a standing desk at home. The limited amount of space I have here makes it hard to do much. Anyway, I’ll probably muddle through, by taking a lot of little breaks to stretch and walk around a little.
I’ve continued to do all of my grocery shopping at the local ShopRite, in person. I’d love to switch to delivery or pick-up, but all of the local options for delivery or pick-up are constantly booked solid. I’ve tried Instacart, ShopRite, Whole Foods, Target, and Walmart, and they’re all, always, booked up. I’ve heard that the way to get a slot is to go online right after midnight, when a new day opens up on the schedule, and grab a slot right away. I’m not sure I’m desperate enough to try that yet. (And maybe I should leave that option for people who actually need grocery delivery, as opposed to people like me who are just lazy and/or scared.) In theory, all of these services are trying to ramp up, but it’s definitely not going smoothly. I see that Instacart workers are planning to strike on Monday. I can’t blame them. If nothing else good comes out of this thing, maybe at least we can get better working conditions for “gig workers” like these folks. (Not that I’m optimistic about that, but you never know.)
In terms of living with the solitude of “social distancing,” I’ve found two recent articles helpful. One by Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space, and one by Jason Rezaian, who was imprisoned in Iran for almost two years.
I’ve been bookmarking articles about the mental health aspect of all this, though I’ll admit I haven’t been reading all of them. (And I probably shouldn’t be reading all of them. Obsessively reading/watching news about COVID-19 is one of the things to avoid, according to the experts.) Anyway, here’s an article on 10 Ways to Ease Your Coronavirus Anxiety from the NY Times. (Yes, even the NYT succumbs to publishing listicles occasionally.) And from the HBR: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.
On the lighter side, if there is one, it seems that Americans Coping With the Coronavirus Are Clogging Toilets. People: do not flush paper towels or disinfectant wipes!
And, for anyone looking for distraction, here’s Brian Michael Bendis’ Stuck at Home Comic Book Reading List. There’s some good stuff on his list, though some of it is maybe a little too heavy for me right now. Speaking of comics, it’s looking like COVID-19 is going to do a lot of damage to the comic book industry. I know that this shouldn’t be the first thing on most people’s mind right now, but it is troubling for long-time fans like me (and of course more so for people who make their living in the industry). Diamond has halted new comics shipments into their warehouses. And a lot of shops are going to be in some trouble if they can’t keep selling regular monthly comics every Wednesday, as usual. I’m still ordering my books from Westfield Comics, and they’re still going, for now. Their statement about COVID-19 can be found here. I’d been thinking about dropping my monthly books at some point this year, but now it feels like I should keep buying them, just to help out.