40 days and 40nights have passed since I personally went into isolation due to the pandemic.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
40 days and 40nights have passed since I personally went into isolation due to the pandemic.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Easter was a (mostly) enjoyable time for me growing up.
As a child, it was school break, traveling on the longest weekend of the year, and with the autumnal weather, cool enough during the day and warm enough at night to sleep. Later, I found myself in the servitude of the Church during the Easter celebrations, the mostly holiest time of the year.
As a teenager, Easter changed. In 1982 my father, drove north to Laguna Bay where my brother and I sailed in our first major regatta. We were rank outsiders, two young kids, unknowns. Not surprisingly, we were robbed blind after the final race. We drove home that weekend with a new focus. I would go on to win seven (7) titles, but nothing would ever erase that memory of that Easter.
What I remember the most of that Easter was the weather. Old enough to remember, it would become the blueprint for all future Easter regattas I attended. Raining, wet, and despite the autumnal weather, cold enough during the day for hypothermia and not warm enough at night to sleep. My father would launch us off the beach, have warm food for us on our return, and relaunch us in the afternoon. He did more for my sailing history than I could ever thank him for.
Here we are, 38 years later and the weather in Southern California this Easter weekend reminds me so much of what happened at Laguna Bay. The rain, the coldness, the thievery and the subsequent follow through. I am feeding two sick patients, albeit, not at the beach in the elements. However, I am currently on day 28 of isolation from Corona virus with the same emotions back then - there is nothing I can do to change what has occurred, but I will never let this happen again.
Easter was a (mostly) enjoyable time for me growing up - I hope I have more enjoyment that this.
Saturday, April 4, 2020
California, during the pandemic, fells like 1974.
In 1974, my parents were living in the married quarters of the local army base. On a Saturday morning, my mother would drive about 20 minutes away to a large retail center where we would do our grocery shopping. The aisles were packed as trading on a Saturday ceased at either noon or 12:30pm.
Up and down the aisles we would travel, filling the cart, amid the noise of people chatting. If you weren't in the store when the doors open, by the time you reached some sections, the shelves would be bare and from past experiences, you knew that they would not be restocked before the end of the day, so you moved on without that item.
At the checkouts there were lines of people seven and eight deep, but there was room to move as each shopper gave a courtesy to the other occupants in the store. The groceries and items were bagged into a light brown paper bag, and placed back in the cart.
The parking lot was multi level, so on days when you parked on the lowest level, when you exited the store, you couldn't tell what the weather was like. You would look down and see streams of water beginning to run downhill through the parking lot and you knew it was raining. If you were exiting the store at noon, the rush would be over, and you might see the other stores closing up for the weekend. By the time 1:00pm arrived, everything was closed. People were home, no one was on the street, traffic was non existent.
California feels a bit like those Saturday mornings in 1974. With the health issue across the nation, the eyes that I have 46 years later take in a different perspective, but it still has the same feel about.
Except that in 1974, those were some of the best memories of my childhood. Not a lot of memories from the Covid crisis that I want to carry for the next 46 years.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
I have established that, at best, while working from home, that I can work for a maximum of fifteen (15) minutes at a time.
It's not that I lack the concentration or focus to enable me to perform for several hours. It's the needless distractions that have to be attended to which limit my output, to fifteen minutes at a time.
Today, I woke and sat down at my desk. Booted up the computer and during the morning email review, checked on the elderly parent that I care for. Thus endeth the first fifteen minutes.
The dogs barked fifteen minutes later. Check and verify that they are barking at the wind.
The cat started bitching about something. Get up and verify that the cat is just bitching about nothing.
The landline telephone rings, it's a scam caller, so naturally, the elderly parent answers it.
That's the first hour. I've risen four times for outside distractions, broken the train of thought and been distracted from my work.
The second hour. The dogs again. Fifteen minutes later there's a truck driving by that makes a loud sound; and the dogs go apeshit. The usual swearing and cursing at the dogs hastens their retreat to the elderly parents lap. I no sooner return and the elderly parent is moving about in the kitchen - investigation required. Fifteen minutes later, there's a door slam inside the house - elderly parent has taken to their bathroom.
While the current health situation has put a lot more people to work in their residency, there are a couple of thoughts about this. If we can work from home during a health issue, why can't we work from home after the health issue? The roads would be freer, the commute time would be reduced, people would still be earning an income.
And then the dogs bark again, this time at a leaf falling...three miles away.
And now I know why people go to their corporate office. It's not so they can accomplish any additional work, it's so they are not working fifteen minutes at a time distracted by ridiculous home matters. Far better to be distracted at work every fifteen minutes by the phone and loose two hours of your day in the commute back and forth, than to stay at home and complete the same volume distracted by..leaves falling every fifteen minutes.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Across the United States, employees are being told to "work from home" as an attempt to stem the flow of the Corona Virus, CoVid-19. As people do so, they are some techniques that can be employed to ensure that you actually accomplish "work" while at home.
You wouldn't report to workplace in your pajamas, nor should you report to your home work station in the same clothes you slept in. While you may not exercise the same dress standard as the work place, getting dressed is a psychological tool to differentiate between being at work, and working from home.
HAVE A PLACE TO WORK
Even if you have to clear a spot at the dinning room table, have a dedicated work station. Sturdy chair, flat surface, lighting and ventilation are the hallmarks of establishing the invisible boundary from home and work. Coaches, beds, and floor space are not work stations.
KEEP A SCHEDULE
Your mind functions better if it maintains a schedule of events. If you are an office worker with office hours, maintain that schedule while you work from home. Your employer will still need to reach you, your co workers will need to collaborate with you and your subordinates will still need to report to you. While you may no longer have to clock in and clock out to the minute, don't be the guy who misses the video conference because you weren't "at work".
This is, in my opinion, the most important. The access to you by other family members may be taken for granted, or that movie you haven't seen may be starting in ten minutes. When you are "working from home" you're no longer available to attend to the domestic chores or ask, and a television should never be on in your work space. It is too tempting to be distracted b the comforts of the home when you should be working.
In the workplace, you walk between offices, the lunchroom, maybe tour the facility in order to get your steps in, or to stretch out from your work station. Maintain this approach and ensure that during your "work day". that you try to maintain the same level of physical activity. Walk the dog, leave the car in the garage if you have to go outside, but make allowances that let you continue to exercise. Long hours sitting at your desk and hen flopping into bed is counter productive.
There's a method to how I work from home. I maintain the same schedule: rise, breakfast dress and report to my work station prior to 7am. Email are no more than 15 minutes as it's too easy to be distracted. I break for lunch at noon every day and return about 30 minutes later. Around 1.30pm I get up and walk the dogs, come hail, rain or shine. Returning about 2pm, I check emails one more time and write till about 4.30pm. There is no television near my work station, although I have a CD player I occasionally put on low volume.
Jacob, the cat, is my sole co worker at home, and I often engage in workplace conversations with him. Though working from home can be a solitary assignment, there is no reason why you have to be "alone".
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Deadlines come and go. Occasionally, I will not start a project or submission until the deadline is approaching. Having a deadline is a good thing - the time constraint to be done by a prescribed moment keeps the work on focus.
This week I was talking with a First Fan when I mentioned that I had two deadlines looming on the same day - February 28. (It turns out, it wasn't the same day, one of the deadlines was in fact February 29, as 2020 is a leap Year. But for the sake of this entry, the deadline was "the last day in February".)
The second deadline was finished with with...a day to spare. The first deadline zoomed right by me without a word being written.
On the last day, that is, February 29, I was in my car mentally revising the submission made on February 28 when I come to the conclusion that a lot of submissions I make center around transport and traveling. Some of my best published non fiction has the critical element of "traveling" in-bedded within the story. Then there are other good fiction stories that I have had published where traveling, or rather, "the journey" has been the strength of the story.
Looking back, I began to recall some of the "transport" focus of my youth. In the Police Department, I wrote a paper for the National Transport Road Forum on truck driving hours. In College I wrote an assignment of early transports affecting education in the outback. In High School, I wrote an English assignment which documented the travels of the protagonist. (It might have been Jude The Obscure.) In primary school I did a project on Transport for the new schools open house, that featured a model railway and identified thirty seven different means of transport. Even earlier, than that, I was collector of the Weet Bix cards that featured motor vehicles.
A writer of travel. Who would have seen that coming?
Monday, February 24, 2020
I am Done.
A letter today from the California Department of Child Support Services reads "According to our records, your support obligations are paid in full ....Do not send further payment."
It is almost 23 years to the day since I was divorced. Along the way I have battled the Commonwealth of Australia, set precedent in the San Diego Appeals Court against the Dept. of Child Support, had my fight against the oppressive Child Support machinery published locally and in Australia, and been on radio talk shows.
I was fortunate that I knew how to read law, prepare briefs of evidence, compile witness statements, and handle a court room. I became schooled in the Hague Convention Child Support rules, and put a stop after their financial gang rape. But at what cost?
The swiftness of the system to take is not replicated on correcting their errors. I've not owned a house, but their mother bought a beach house with my child support. My credit report is obliterated, had my drivers license in peril, my passport attempted to be revoked by a foreign country not authorized to, and worst, emotionally hurt another women as I failed miserably in a relationship.
I was lucky - not everyone gets to win almost all their fights. Others may not have had the knowledge, or the staying power, or maybe they were beat down more than I was and could not go on. The one I truly needed to win though - is a loss. My daughters are now 31 and 25; alienated from me by their mother. I last saw my eldest when she was 18, her sister - when she was 12.
It's too late for my girls. I am done.