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My Experience With Self-Isolation Thus Far

I’m writing this one for myself. I feel like I should have some record of this time, and this is still the easiest place for me to write in an organized manner and be able to find it later.

Upsides

Let’s start with the positive. I’ve been riding my bike more consistently; using up that time I’m saving from not having to commute. Bicycling is pretty critical to my sanity. I’ve been staying off the mixed-use trails though, as they have been way too crowded! I’ve discovered new semi-bike-friendly ways through our fair city. It’s also easier with fewer cars on the road, although lately, it seems like there are as many cars as always.

Other habits have also finally found a foothold. I’ve been meditating more than I have in a long time. It’s easier to start my day with a quick 10 minutes of meditation, and sometimes take a mid-day meditation break as well. I’ve even started doing the push-ups and sit-ups I’ve been meaning to get into forever. These (and other) habits are still not locked in, but at least I’ve made some progress on them.

Our weekly online D&D game has been a success. Our adventuring party of 4 has successfully completed one quest with no casualties.

At work, where most of my team is remote and work from home anyway, things have actually been smoother with everyone remote. We had our regular quarterly kickoff meeting with everyone on Zoom. Historically there have been technical issues with our attempts to integrate remote people into these meetings. With everyone remote and on Zoom, the experience was seamless.

Neutral

I don’t really see my kids much more. I might get to escape my desk for 20 minutes mid-day to play HORSE in the backyard with Lucy.

My circadian rhythm was given an inch and proceeded to take a mile. I’m typically up until 1 am or later.

I’m in Zoom calls pretty much all damn day. If not for work, for social occasions. It’s pretty exhausting.

All the chat apps. I now have running most of the time:

  • Slack with 8 Slack teams, about 4 of which I check regularly
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Discord, recent cleanup got me down to 3 servers
  • Facebook Messenger

I also have GroupMe on my phone for one org I’m involved with, and of course the default Android messaging app.

Remember when there were just a few standardized chat protocols and you could use one app for all of them?

I’m managing todos in four locations now. This is all my own doing:

  • Trello is my main repository of personal projects and tasks. I have a total of 28 Trello boards, although really only 6 that I frequent.
  • Notion is my main repository for work projects and tasks. Notion is really powerful–much more powerful than Trello–but that’s also its undoing: it is really difficult to keep organized. Regardless, this is where my company’s documents live, so I have multiple Notion tabs open at all times. I also use Notion for personal projects that require integrated documents.
  • Taskpaper: I used to use Taskpaper (using a Sublime Text plugin) for tasks, but now I just use it as a plain-text outliner. I basically have one large text file for work notes and one for personal notes. It feels odd to use a todo application as an outliner, but it’s actually better than any outliner I’ve tried, and I already had the muscle memory for it.
  • Zenkit Todo: the newest addition. They’re gunning hard for those Wunderlist orphans. I now keep a Zenkit Todo “app” (using a standalone browser–I use Coherence but there are a few tools for generating these) along the side of my monitor. Mostly I try to keep daily/immediate tasks in there, but I am also finding myself capturing new tasks in it since it’s right there. I’m toying with the idea of moving my main Trello board to Zenkit Todo.

"This is how I described our work Notion" ^ This is how I described our work Notion

"My tasks/notes setup for work" ^ My tasks/notes setup for work

I bought a new personal laptop prior to the pandemic arriving on our shores and it arrived a little while ago. (A last-year’s model Dell XPS 15, with 500GB storage, 16GB memory, a Nvidia GTX, and a 4K OLED display) I managed to get Ubuntu to duel-boot on it, and have been spending occasional nights tweaking it to my liking. My goal is to have my work laptop (the 2016 15” MBP that I’m typing this on) be just for work, and the personal laptop be just for personal stuff. I might go crazy and wipe out the Windows install when Ubuntu 20.04 comes out in a few days. I’ll need the drive space.

I’m back on social networks. I won’t accept your friend request. You can follow me if you can find me.

Downsides

Besides the constant FUD around health and finances that we’re all experiencing? I don’t feel the effects of never leaving the house very often. I am a big introvert after all. I get fresh air and look at things besides computer screens and the walls of my house on my bike rides. Nevertheless, the collective weirdness of it all and the weight of said FUD can get me down. I’ll just have an off day here and there. This isn’t really a new phenomenon, however. Perhaps I just notice it more without as much distraction from the outside world.

I thought the lack of eating out, trips by car, entertainment options, and the deferment of certain costly tasks (like car maintenance) would help our budget, but it hasn’t appeared to.

I thought I would have more time to spend on any number of neglected projects but haven’t really gained any time. The extra hour or so working from home buys me has gone straight to either work or the bike. Otherwise, there’s always plenty to do without leaving the house.

Many of the negatives are common problems with working from home not specific to my situation: I often sit down at my desk in the clothes I slept in and don’t stand up again except for coffee and snacks until mid-afternoon. That’s no way to live. In the beginning, I tried to do my normal morning routine, but once I’ve sat down at the computer the continuous flood of incoming communications and requests for my time and things to take care of seems to keep me pinned to my chair. I’ve been writing this post off and on for three days. Today I have the day off work, but I have two meetings this morning I really can’t miss, and it’s not like I’m going anywhere except on a bike ride.


The Importance of Dancing like an Idiot

Or, if you prefer, in text

One of the strangest but also most intriguing and redemptive things that humans get up to, in almost any culture one cares to study, is occasionally to gather in large groups, bathe in the rhythmic sounds of drums and flutes, organs and guitars, chants and cries, and move their arms and legs about in complicated and frenzied ways, losing themselves in the bewilderment of a dance. Dancing has a claim to be considered among the most essential and salutary activities we ever partake in. Not for nothing did Nietzsche, a painfully inhibited figure in day to day life, declare “I would believe only in a God who could dance”…

But dancing is at the same time an activity that many of us, arguably those of us who might most need to do it, are powerfully inclined to resist and deep down to fear. We stand on the side of the dance floor appalled at the possibility of being called to join in, we attempt to make our excuses the moment the music begins, we take pains that no one will ever, ever see our hips unite with a beat.

The point here is definitely not to learn to dance like an expert, it is to remember that dancing badly is something we might actually want to do and, equally importantly, something that we already well know how to do to–at least to the level of appalling proficiency we need to possess in order to derive key benefits.

Agreed!

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