Three months in

Today marks three months that I’ve been working remotely in pandemic mode. It’s probably about the same duration for others who are fortunate enough to have this option, give or take a week or two. It’s all very surreal, made even more so by the fact that there is no definite timeline for when I’ll actually return to work onsite. I have the option to do so now, but we’re being encouraged not to if working from home is still a viable option, and it pretty much is for my department and for the unit I manage right now.

Random thoughts from Stately Otherstream Manor:

  • I watch The National every night on YouTube. I find Justin Trudeau’s hair much less disturbing than Donald Trump’s, even though Justin’s got a little too fluffy for comfort before he finally cut it this week. I’m glad Adrienne Arsenault is now much warmer in her outdoor “physical distancing” co-anchor space.
  • I’ve gotten really into pimento cheese again, not mention grilled cheese sandwiches made with pepper jack.
  • Switching back and forth between my Windows computer at work (via remote desktop) and my Mac at home seems much less odd than it did at first, but when I’m using SSH to my Linux server via the Windows machine and thus have three different OS platforms rolling at once, it still impresses me sometimes.
  • It’s a little embarrassing when I forget to log off the work VPN before accessing sites I shouldn’t.
  • It’s nice having some good takeout restaurants and an Aldi within walking distance. I wish I were actually walking to them more often.
  • While I do miss many of my coworkers, I do not miss in-person meetings and constant interruptions.
  • Teaching a class with a beer in your hand is probably not appropriate. (I don’t really drink much anyway and I’ve actually been doing even less of it since March.)
  • My social life is not appreciably different during a pandemic “lockdown”, and I’m OK with that.
  • I’m not watching Perry Mason nearly as much as I thought I would.
  • I am actually starting to make some progress on the book I’m co-authoring. Finally.
  • If I don’t spend a night outside this town soon, I will surely go out of my mind.

And here we are…

Eight or nine years ago I had the opportunity to leave this country and emigrate to Canada. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t do it. In recent weeks, I’ve questioned that decision more than I ever really thought I would.

I don’t really think America is “more” racist or divided than we were a few years ago. We were always in pretty bad shape on that front. The current culture, fronted by a “leader” whose primary goal seems to be in to inflame these divisions, has just made them more apparent to more people, because it’s now more socially acceptable to openly display that bigotry, ignorance, disregard for democracy, and disdain for verifiable facts than it was before. It’s really scary and it’s really sad.

Call me an eternal optimist, but I still believe that it will eventually get better. I just think it’s going to take a lot longer for that to happen after the past few years. I’m less sure that I’m going to see it happen before my time on the planet is done. And I really don’t have any idea what to do about it in a world where reasonable discourse no longer seems an option, where scientific fact is ignored, where peaceful protesters are “unpatriotic traitors,” and where any reporting that questions the ruling regime is “fake news.”

I just have a feeling a lot more people are going to be speaking the language of the unheard in the near future, because a lot of people see it as the only way to make other people listen in this environment. They may be right. I’m not going to presume to make that call myself.

And yeah, I know these words are not really helpful either, but I had to get it off my chest anyway.

May flowers or something

Haven’t done this in a while:

May 2015: Working on my tenure portfolio and spending a weekend in DC.

May 2010: My fixed-term position became my tenure-track position.

May 2009: Buying an extra house.

May 2005: Preparing to vacate San Francisco.

May 2000: Random food and rants.

May 1998: Visitors and sex.

So in the past week…

We’ve progressed from nervous laughter to just plain nervous.

Here in Otherstreamland, all the bars are closed and the restaurants have moved to takeout-only mode per a statewide order. The schools, libraries, and museums are closed. The theatres, if they aren’t closed already, might as well be. The supermarkets seem better stocked (and less crowded) here than in much of North America, but there’s still no toilet paper, hand sanitizer, nor disinfecting spray cleaner. Nor alcohol (of the rubbing variety), for that matter. Beer is plentiful, at least.

The university where I work got what is more or less an “abandon ship” order today. Dorms are closing, except for students who have no other options. The library may or may not stay open, but most of us have been ordered to start working remotely by tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got my VPN and my remote desktop client (and a huge external drive just in case) and I’m set to work at home for the foreseeable future. I’m not really looking forward to it, but at least I still have a job.

I no longer visit my 91-year-old aunt next door because Great Pumpkin only knows what I might be carrying around from the petri dish where I work.

And there is nothing about this that anyone else in the country (nor most of the world) would probably find all that unusual right now.