WFH Diary – Reopen guidelines

City of Charlotte Guidelines for ReopeningI suppose if the pandemic has a silver lining it might be getting to know a lot more about my neighbors, community, and city. For example, the City of Charlotte’s guidelines for reopening are industry-specific and they include advice tailored for “Axe Throwing Venues”.

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WFH Diary – Changing times

For a moment, consider the coronavirus as a type of singularity. Leading up to it, conditions on the far side of the event horizon are so different as to be unimaginable. Once we emerge on the other side of this thing it will be increasingly difficult to relate to pre-pandemic society and culture because the world will have changed so much as to have un-moored us from our previous points of reference.

While writing this post it occurred to me that if I had written it in 2019 “I don’t get it” would probably be the most generous response and “somebody Baker Act that guy” would perhaps have been the most common. But reading this in the context of the pandemic, changes things dramatically. As of Spring 2020 “that guy is a comedic genius” is probably the most generous response to this post, while “somebody Baker Act that guy” probably will be the most common.

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WFH Diary – Stimulus and response

Wednesday April 15, 2020 will be remembered by people working in Information Technology for the degradation across the board of the online banking systems of virtually every US bank. Starting around 8am EDT, pretty much everyone on the Eastern seaboard who was expecting a stimulus check direct deposit started clicking on [INQUIRE BALANCE] in their bank’s app or web site. This then rolled westward until everyone in the country who was expecting a direct deposit was wondering why their online banking broke down on they very day they most wanted to use it.

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WFH Diary – A Day In The Life

Adjusting to the lockdown has been difficult and I thought that maybe keeping a detailed diary of one day might give me perspective.

8:45am – Wake up on the couch. Fell asleep watching a late-night horror show. Or maybe it was the news. I can’t be sure. The couch is downstairs and the office is upstairs just down the hall from the bedroom so this is going to double my commute time on a day when I’m already running late.

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WFH Diary – Video conferencing

The first thing I do when I get a new laptop is to block the video camera, and the latest work computer was no exception. Now that everyone in the office is working remotely, we were directed to use video conferencing specifically so we could see each other.

I’ve been blocking the laptop camera as long as laptops have had built-in cameras so my wife has NEVER seen me use video conferencing. Ever. Naturally, she was surprised yesterday, and more than a little concerned, when she walked through my office and noticed my face live on the screen talking in a meeting. She stopped by after the meeting to express her concerns.

“I dry laundry behind you! What if someone sees my underwear?!?!”

“Honey, I would NEVER embarrass you that way,” I assured her. “If anyone notices the underwear I’ll just tell them it’s mine.”

“You aren’t helping.”

Now she’s hanging the delicates in another room and it seems too late to tell her that the video software swaps out the background and it looks to everyone else like I’m calling in from the moon. I’ll miss her coming into the office from time to time. Maybe I’ll man-cave the office a bit more.

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WFH Diary – Gratitude

In the midst of all the bad news it is important to find things to be grateful for. This is for our own benefit as much as it is for the people we take the time to thank. Gratitude nourishes the soul.

It was in this spirit that I asked my wife to take a moment and sit down with me. I held her hands in mine and looked deeply into her eyes.

“It sucks to be locked in,” I said. “But I am SO grateful to be locked in with someone I love and whose company I truly enjoy. There’s nobody I would rather be locked in with.”

She returned my gaze for a long moment, seemingly searching for the right words. Her eyes teared up and her breath fluttered. Finally she regained her composure.

“Wow,” she said with a depth of emotion I rarely see from her. “That must be nice.”

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Wife taking naked photos

Earlier today I happened to look up from my computer just in time to see my wife pass by my office door naked and then head down the stairs. I had no idea where she was going in this condition, but since it was away from me I figured it was the wrong direction.

I muted the call I was on with a client and yelled after her: “Hey I hope you aren’t planning to answer the door like that!”

“No you idiot,” she replied from the bottom of the stairs. “I need my camera.” Continue reading

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What’s in a name?

An older man was walking his dog in front of the pharmacy when I arrived today. The dog came up to sniff my ankle so I stopped to say hi.

“He’s cute! What kind of dog is he?”

“A mutt,” says the owner. “Mostly terroir, though.”

I know the word terroir only because it’s one of those specialty words that occasionally come into vogue among the general population. The definition, so far as I can tell, is roughly “I know more about wine than you because I can use the word terroir correctly in a sentence,” and it is almost never used correctly in a sentence. Continue reading

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Chronic Asymmetry Syndrome

There was a period of about 10 years during which I dyed my beard and mustache.  This wasn’t vanity, but rather that the gray came in so lopsided that the asymmetry drove me crazy.  From a distance it looked like a lizard was clinging to my upper lip, with most of its tail dangling down one side.  I don’t know if it’s the OCD tendencies that accompany my autism or if this would be equally disturbing to neurotypicals, but when the gray was all on one side it was hard to reconcile my image in the mirror as being me.  So I colored it and all was well in the mirror again.

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Augmenting cat reality

If my wife’s experience is representative of cat owners, then the enjoyment of selecting, buying, and gifting of toys to one’s cats must be one of the great rewards of cat ownership. She buys on average a cat toy or two each month, a number that has dropped considerably from the early kitten days. Our oldest cat is 16 years old which is 192 months, and you can do the rest of the math.

As you might imagine, Casa de Wyatt is awash in cat toys.  My wife wants to replace the rugs but I say we should just sew all the cat toys together because when arranged in a single contiguous layer they would cover about the same surface area.  There is some karmic justice in the idea because we wouldn’t need to replace the rugs if the cats had not scratched through them in places, puked up hairballs and worse on them, and occasionally subjected them to some out-of-the-box thinking.

The cats of course are under no obligation to return their toys to where they found them.  On the one hand this reveals cat migration patterns based on the distribution of toys around the house over time, if you are into that kind of thing.  On the other hand it sets a very bad example for our grandson Matt who believes that he too should be able to play with all the toys he keeps here, then leave them where they drop.

We insist that he pick up after himself and he interprets this as the cats having more privileges than he does.  When I explain that with greater intellect comes greater responsibility, he counters by trying to demonstrate less intellect than the cats.  This downward behavioral spiral vividly demonstrates the dangers of letting your kid, or grandson in this case, fall under a bad influence such as that of a gang of cats.

The biggest problem I have with the cat toys is when strangers are in the house.  I always feel compelled to explain that it just LOOKS like we are collecting cats because of the astronomical toy-to-cat ratio.  My fear is that without such an explanation the visitor is likely to report us to the Humane Society or nominate us for an episode of Hoarders.

“Yes, I suspect they are keeping more than 100 cats in there.”

“You ‘suspect’ this? Why? How many cats did you actually see? Do you have any proof?”

“There were only two cats in the house but based on the number of cat toys laying around  I’m pretty certain they were hiding the other 98 cats during my visit.”

“Thanks so much for the report. You did the right thing.  We’ll send one of our producers out there for a surprise visit next week.”

After watching Ready Player One over the weekend I think I finally have the perfect cover story for any visitors based on how the cat toys tend to cluster in certain spots.  I plan to tell visitors that each time a cat loses one of its 9 lives, all the coin and objects it was carrying fall in the spot where it died.  Those clusters of cat toys around the house mark the spots where a cat lost one of its lives.  The sheer volume of toys reflects both the advanced age of our cats and the high number of lives they’ve lost in that time.  Visitors will be asked to show respect for the dead by trying not to disturb the shrines and watching where they step.

I have a lot less anxiety about strangers in the house now that I have a plausible cover story that explains all the cat toys in a way that makes us seem perfectly normal.


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