When I get overwhelmed or start wondering where the last year went, I remind myself that since March I have:
- Co-authored a book that should be published later this year
- Migrated one of the largest library digital collections in the state to a new content management platform (link later)
- Participated in the salvation of American democracy
- Added a bunch of new cities to Groceteria
- Eighty-sixed Facebook
- Rebuilt a friendship that had been dormant for almost thirty years
- Watched at least a hundred vintage episodes of “What’s My Line?”
- Become disturbingly conversant in the MODS metadata schema as well as several new XML tools
- Supervised three student capstones and independent studies
- Managed to avoid getting a COVID-related illness
- Done a few pretty good media interviews (radio, national magazine, well-trafficked blog)
- Read many good books (and bought way too many more)
- Never hoarded toilet paper and also never run out of same
- Managed three big grant projects simultaneously and remotely
- Only gained about five pounds and actually ended up with better labs than last year
- Stayed reasonably sane
Try it yourself. It helps!
Two more months of working from home and things are pretty much the same, except that I’ve actually restored my sanity by taking a couple of very no-contact and socially distant trips.
More random thoughts:
- I was worried that distractions would be a problem while working from home. That really hasn’t happened. I stay pretty laser-focused on work for eight or more hours a day. I don’t really even do any random web surfing (abandoning a couple of social media platforms has helped in that regard) and I don’t take Perry Mason breaks. I’ve gotten much more done than I probably would have in my office since March.
- Managing during remote work is just like managing onsite. Your good people do good work and don’t need prodding. Your less good people remain problematic, but they can’t see you scowling and gritting your teeth.
- I’ve hit a schedule groove: Coffee and breakfast with a hour of work, and then I shower and dress before going back to work for the rest of the day. Lunch at 1.
- I actually go into the office for a few hours every two weeks or so to take care of some things that have to be done in person, to stage things for my staff to work on from home, and to remind myself that I do work for an organization with a physical presence.
- As that physical presence is in fact a university library, I’m glad I work in a nice, locked IT department where no students can ever intrude or exhale.
- I’m also glad that I still have a job at all, especially one that I can just as successfully (and in some cases more successfully) do from home.
- The pimento cheese fascination wore off, but not the grilled pepper jack thing. I’m snacking less (thank the Great Pumpkin for that) but also doing less takeout (which may not be a good thing).
I’m curious about others. Are any of the three of you who still read this working from home? How’s it going for you?
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.
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.