COVID: A Status Update

📅 Posted 2020-11-22

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So it’s been pretty much 8 months to the day since we entered the “everybody work from home” era of 2020. Mid-March. That feels like an eternity away, yet 2020 has gone so very, very fast. This part is not unusual.

However, 2020, what a year it has been. It’s not quite over yet, with about 5 weeks to go until the end of the year. And it was certainly a very different year compared to 2019 (I can’t believe it was our first Euro trip - got in just in time, it turns out).

And so far, thankfully the Summer heat (technically, the Spring heat) has been docile thus far. I’m not ready for day after day of pushing 40 degrees with the overnight temperature barely dropping below 30 (that’s celcius for my international readers).

Just way too hot.

Anyways, back to 2020.

COVID-19 has been a pretty weird time. I really can’t complain: Australia has been doing rather remarkably and despite a few “oops” moments with the Ruby Princess and the security guard in Victoria… we really can’t complain.

As I write this, we’re sitting at 27,824 cases compared to just over 12 million in the US alone.

We’ve been going out a little bit - but a lot less than we would be normally. Most trips are for groceries, visiting family or the occasional meal out. It’s definitely not strict lock-down, which is great, but there’s definitely a change to how everyone operates in this ‘new normal’.

Restaurants, Cafes and the like

Restaurants are mostly doing a great job at following COVID-Safe guidelines, with double-checkin patrons that they’ve checked in with the QR code (hey, for the first time ever, people seem to know what a QR code is and what do to with it - so there’s a silver lining).

Tables are spaced out. Things don’t feel so cramped anymore. Bookings are often essential, but they always were anyway for the popular joints (I’ve lost count how many times pre-COVID we were disappointingly turned away from a restaurant because I rarely book - oops!).

The best experience was probably early-on in an Italian restaurant in Mortlake - funny place that suburb, odd mix of residential and residual industry - where the tables were seriously spaced out and they did a good, deep clean between changeovers of customers: tables and changes. Big tick!

Working from home

I find it’s good and bad. I love being able to wander around the garden and pull out a couple of weeds from the garden between meetings. I can get up late, roll into ‘the office’ and start work pretty much bang on time at 9am every day. I could rarely do that if I had to get into the office.

I’m doing a lot of snacking, but it’s healthy stuff. My go-to’s are almonds, oats, yoghurt, dark chocolate, apples and chia seeds. Sometimes all together at once (well, maybe all except the chocolate).

Occasionally, I’ll make turmeric tea from our home-grown turmeric, ginger and lemons. Just a bit of black pepper (sadly we don’t grow this). Despite making everything yellow, this drink is amazingly refreshing. Do try it if you haven’t already.

I find it’s a bit monotonous and tedoius being in meetings all day in COVID times. It’s worse than being in the office because you have to be remote on Zoom (or similar) ALL day. It’s very taxing on the eyes and brain. I would like to get a bit more variety in the day because of this. I’ve been delaying writing this blog until I had some time when I didn’t feel so burnt from being on the computer all day so I could write it!

I’ve done a bit of hiring over the past 8 months and it’s an interesting experience interviewing, selecting and onboarding new staff in this environment. I can imagine it’s a pretty weird time to be ‘meeting’ a whole pile of new people online only, only later to see them in real-life.

Months passed and then when I did finally meeting people in real-life that I had been talking to everyday over Zoom, it was just this really odd experience. Can’t quite put my finger on why.

I did a workshop the other day for 5 days in the office. It was amazing to see people and work with people. We did social things, we made coffee and we may have done some work in there somewhere as well.

Seeing people was so refreshing. Should do more of that.

I don’t think I could handle working remotely 100% forever. I very much miss the social and incidental happenings of the office.

I’m definitely looking forward to a blend of at home and in the office for when we go back. Next year, this seems to be on the cards. Fingers crossed.

Things I miss

I didn’t go to the movies that much before, but I do kind of miss the idea of going.

Live music, again, not something that I had a huge amount of opportunities to experience, but I do love it so much. Having none of that over the past 8 months has been a bit tough for so many people. I’m very sad about the livelihoods of so many creative people being stung by the complete shutdown of the industry. Hang in there! Gigs will be back. I hope they’ll be the same. Will they be the same?

I caught the bus the other day. It was an odd experience, because I would normally catch it every day. Then suddenly stopped. There are limits on how many people can be on the bus. There are seats marked where to sit. There is tape covering the front couple of rows of seats to protect the driver. Some drivers wear masks but most don’t seem to.

Oddly, I miss catching public transport. I like the idea it’s a service, comes along, no stress, takes you places. Driving in Sydney is terrible and I feel like everyone has decided to drive everywhere and be in such a rush and be so agro about it. Today I had someone overtake me on the right for a left-hand turn because the traffic light went amber and I decided to stop, rather than try and gun it around on the amber. They were NOT stopping!

They’ve just changed the bus timetables in my area so the buses are more frequent and there are more options of places to go to from the local bus stop. There are even electric buses sometimes. Amazing what changes when you haven’t been on the bus for a while.

Projects

I thought I would get some decent projects sorted by being home so much and the truth is… some have and others haven’t had so much progress.

The garden is doing well after so much attention.

The house is getting little maintenance bits like painting done, which is good, so that it’s kept in a maintained state.

Computery/online projects have been pretty much wound down to an idle now, with only 1 new website delievered during COVID and other projects (like that one and that other one) having either minimal features or just security maintenance being completed. I think the sheer number of Zoom calls has taken it’s toll on my attention for the screen!

On the plus side, I’m playing the piano pretty much every day now and that has given my attempts at learning new Sakamoto songs a great boost.

Other things

There’s a lot of hand sanitser around. Some smells good, others are horrible. You don’t know what you’re going get until you try. You know what they say, Life is like hand sanitiser, you never know what you’re gonna get…

People tend to give space in public areas. I mean, rather than blocking people, there’s a fair amount of sudden courtesy for allowing people to pass in narrow areas, like supermarket aisles. Why couldn’t this be the default behaviour before? I really hope this persists long after COVID because I’m usually quite invisible to everyone else and constantly felt a bit closed in by randoms.

There are a lot of changes to public spaces: from perspex shields at checkouts, cash being less accepted in shops, lines drawn on the floor to remind you how much space you should leave around you, queues outside shops (we had to queue for Big W the other day, I mean seriously, who would queue for Big W… OK us), loads of cleaning products, signs to remind you of the dangers, masks everywhere… oh yes masks. Some are OK for me but if ill-fitting then they make my eyes sting. Like totally sting beyond belief to the point where I cannot bear it. I must have super heated dragon breath, or something.

I’m going to finish off this one by saying that I’m absolutely fortunate to be employed, be able to work from home, be able to visit family and be able continue mostly as we did before without fear, worry or anxiety for the most part. There is always some anxiety associated with change and it’s good to be aware of what others might be going through and watch for mental health signs of myself and others around you, but so far, nothing to be alarmed about.


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