Week whatever of working from home: now with protests

Today’s Chomsky-esque translation exercise in Duolingo.

In other news, my neighborhood has been relatively quiet for the last week, given its proximity to staging for marches on Saturday and Monday. Lot of helicopters Monday. Woke at 3am this morning to a fire alarm: not my smoke detector but the piercing, building-wide wail that I’ve only heard during tests before. Unknown people set the recycling and trash on the curb on fire. Fire department was on scene before everyone was out of the building, and there’s no damage to the building, but it’s disturbing in retrospect. Went for a walk south this evening, after walking north and west the last couple of days. A bunch of small businesses have boarded up but have signs that they are open still. Not all have. I think most of the boarded businesses were damaged in 2015 and did it as a precaution this time around.

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Talk less, smile more

Listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on my walk this evening, I was struck again by Burr’s advice to talk less and smile more. It reminds me of advice given to me, mostly by men: show a pleasant face and keep your thoughts to yourself, go along to get along. It looks like there’s a fair amount of analysis of this line online, based on a simple word search. It’s mostly from a leadership perspective, but I’d be interested in reading a feminist analysis of the lyrics. Frankly, I know a lot of women who are absolutely finished with being told to smile more.

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Stepdad had surgery over the weekend and seems to be recovering. Because of coronavirus concerns, he was not discharged to a nursing home or assisted living facility, which is what normally would happen, and is instead at home with visiting PT and health aids. It’s not ideal, he’s still very weak.

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I want a vacation. I don’t even need to go anywhere. I just want to not be responsible for answering peoples’ questions for a few days. The whole working from home thing is not ideal for me. A lot of my colleagues are angling already for expanded telework in the future, but I very much miss the separation between work and home life. One colleague mentioned a tentative plan to drive to FL to stay with a friend and telework from there because she doesn’t want to spend a winter quarantined here. That’s…further into the future than I’m willing to plan on teleworking at this point.

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Whining here – feel free to skip

I feel like tempers are fraying.  Mine certainly is.  I was ready for the weekend by Wednesday.  Our workload is going up, and everyone is scrambling to figure out childcare for the summer.  We’ve been told to expect to remain teleworking through at least July 15.

I’ve been trying to get a particular tool/license for more than a year.  I did the research.  I priced the options.  I checked out whether the provider meets security standards and if it has other similar customers/clients.  I had demos and included potential users.  I put in the funding request for the last fiscal year and this fiscal year with the primary use case and a hypothetical use case.  I updated the pricing periodically.  I’m not sure what value the “coordinator” has added, since any justification request was immediately bounced to me.  I included it in the new end of FY and next FY budget request a couple of weeks ago.  And then Coordinator, who our Director thinks is already handling this, called to ask me if I had any opinions about this tool, or if I had thought of the use case or how many licenses we might need or how it could be administered.  Why, yes, I have.  AND I GAVE YOU THIS INFORMATION IN SEPTEMBER, THEN AGAIN IN FEBRUARY, AND TWO WEEKS AGO.  But sure, I’ll give it to you again.

Thursday was…not ideal.  Stepdad’s mobility has declined a lot in the last couple of years and he’s very accident prone (falls, stumbles) and has limited range for walking and length of time standing, even with the support of a cane.  (He has rejected the idea of a walker or wheelchair to date.)  What he took to be a fall last week turns out to have been an initial stroke or mini-stroke.  He’s hospitalized and working on being stabilized, but needs surgery; the surgery may cause paralysis but doing nothing will also cause paralysis. So.  Can call and check on him, but can’t visit.

Yesterday after work I went to the grocery store, which was incredibly anxiety-inducing.  I usually go early Saturday or Sunday morning.  Friday afternoon shopping was a bad idea.  It was busier than I’m accustomed to, although the cashier told me that it would get much busier after 5pm.  No one was social distancing.  While everyone was wearing a mask nominally, most of them had them pulled aside so they could talk on their phone or drink something, or just not covering their noses.  There was toilet paper in stock!  No bleach or wipes though.  (I needed dish detergent, which was in that aisle.) The eggs looked pretty picked over, but there was plenty of milk, cheese, yogurt, and frozen foods.

I finally steeled myself and read Akim Aliu’s Player’s Tribune piece.  It was as terrible as expected.  To then read the bullshit article* published by The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa glorifying the bullying of a Bruins player, framed as “boys will be boys”, and using really tone-deaf, ugly language made me wonder again if hockey and hockey media are redeemable.  It normalizes verbal/mental abuse, and articulates a homogeneous, white, cis-het, masculine worldview that thinks anything else is Less Than and deserves persecution until conformity is achieved.  The only excuse I can think is that The Athletic doesn’t employ anyone who is not already steeped in the -isms that are hockey culture, to the detriment of both the company and the writers.

*The article’s headline and one shortish paragraph have been removed.  But the headline is still visible in the author’s Twitter feed, and the rest of the article remains pretty illustrative of oblivious, ugly, dudebro behavior at best.  The edited out piece can be seen in a screen grab in the replies to the author’s Tweet.  The comments are both excellent and awful, with readers who are horrified and readers who say that’s a normal working environment.

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World baking day

Twitter told me this morning that today is World Baking Day. So here is my participation bake: Nadiya Hussein’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancake Tray Bake. The jelly is jalapeño, which tastes delicious but doesn’t look as pretty as a red jelly would.

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Well, that was a bad idea born out of good intentions

Yesterday, feeling stir crazy, I decided to go on a drive.  So I went to put flowers on my grandparents’ gravestone.  It was nice to be out of my neighborhood, the drive was smooth.  At the cemetery, there were people out putting flags in all of the stones (they all have little holes for it since it is a veterans’ cemetery) but no one nearby and everyone was wearing masks.

Called mom to let her know I would be dropping some stuff on her porch.  (Mistake #1) She was out waiting for me.  She took off her mask.  She bugged me to take off my mask. (Mistake #2)  She wanted me to come into the house.  When I wouldn’t do that – her feelings were visibly hurt – she wanted us to sit on the back porch; me standing several feet away rather than sitting next to her also visibly hurt her feelings.  I didn’t want to hug or kiss her and she started to cry.  (Mistake #3) She wanted me to stay and socialize, asked me to come inside repeatedly.  She asked me to stay overnight.  (Even in non-pandemic times, I don’t stay overnight; I prefer my home, which is not far away, and also find the excessive attention smothering, which is weird since she wasn’t a smotherer when I was a kid.)

Mom knows better.  I know she does.  And yet she was utterly disinterested to actually complying with social distancing rules.  Mom kept saying that she’d been quarantined since March so it wasn’t a big deal and okay not to social distance.  Ugh.  I live in a multi-unit building in which some people refuse to wear masks in common areas; I go for a daily walk while masked and veer out of the way of other pedestrians who often don’t wear masks or make the slightest effort to keep distance.  She shrugged all that off.  I get that she’s lonely and this is hard.  But I am not doing that again; it feels bad to say it, but it probably would have been better if I hadn’t stopped by at all.

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Entertainment

Channel surfing this evening, I ran across two older movies:  Miss Congeniality and Star Trek (2009).  I had forgotten that a young Chris Hemsworth had his big movie debut (but not overall debut) in the ST reboot.  And I’m reminded that the Chris Pine version of Kirk is not an improvement or equal even to Shatner’s.  Ugh.   But Karl Urban’s Bones is terribly pretty.  Twenty years after the fact, I have mixed feelings about Miss Congeniality still, but still watch it when I run across it, like The Princess Bride and any/all of the Harry Potter movies.

I ordered a Portuguese-English dictionary and a conversational grammar book.  Duolingo is not cutting in.  At some point, I may sign up for lessons online.

Work remains a little less than ideal.  We have no idea when we may reopen.  Even if there is an official reopening, the lack of public transportation and lingering health/childcare issues will probably mean that a large chunk of time will still be spent teleworking.  (I do not want to drive into DC every day but also do not want to get onto a a bus or train.)  We are working at a pace >35% over last year but with fewer people.  It’s not sustainable.  Everyone is stressed out.  Our best (IMO) contractor gave notice: he’s moving to a different contract with better benefits.  I’m happy for him – he’s very thoughtful and methodical and diligent, and he is early in his career, so this is a good move for him.  But it kinda leaves us in the lurch – which was a known risk that everyone ignores – because he’s got a lot of expertise that no one else in the group has; I come closest but would be the first person to say that is NOT my area of expertise and I don’t have the bandwidth (or interest) to become an expert.

ETA:  While I was out for a walk on Sunday, I ran into the owner of a couple of small, local businesses.  He was prepping for the lunch carry out at one of them.  One has reopened and the other has not.  The reopened business does carry out only right now, and is focused on sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes, some alcohol.  He said that business is down but enough to scrape along.  The business that has not reopened for carry out offers cheese plates and some sandwiches, but relies more on the bar (seriously, their Pink Cadillac is my favorite).  So it is more dependent on foot traffic and people hanging out.  He mentioned that he might not reopen the other one, which is a reasonable business decisions.  But I’m totally bummed on a personal level since I kinda like that food better, but also because it means the bartenders will likely be out of work.  One was getting ready to limit her hours (school/professional reasons!) but a couple others depend on that job as primary income 😦

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:|

I need to figure out how to change my Shutterfly settings. They keep sending me notifications about my memories from years past. Staying home is fine. I’m doing the right thing, we all are. But reminding me that this time last year I was in Boston, the year before in Rome, the two preceding years before that in Pittsburgh for playoff hockey – it isn’t helping right now.

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