LFH: Day 6

by Sunita

Yesterday was supposed to be an easier day, and it started promisingly. But then things ramped up in the afternoon, partly because of semi-panicked emails from different university units I belong to, and partly because, well, we’re not getting easier days for a while.

The two cases of COVID-19 involving locally based university personnel led to a ramp-up in exclusion policies for everyone on all the campuses. We’re not quite on lockdown, or “full closure” as they term it, but we are strictly admonished not to come to campus unless we are designated as essential personnel or have designated essential tasks on campus. Research that requires campus access cannot be carried out, only maintained (in the sense that labs have animals, experiments, etc. that can’t be abandoned). The university is trying to make accommodations for things like season-dependent research, but everyone else, from lab researchers to humanities scholars who need continual library access, is to wind down and do alternate types of work. I wonder if the additional policies are in response to the number of people still on campus this week. I believe our faculty and grad students have stayed away, but clearly that’s not the case everywhere.

TheH and I drove into campus and picked up the few additional things we thought we’d need. I brought home my laptop dock, monitor, keyboard, more files, and a pile of books. I’ve resisted setting up an office-equivalent workspace at home; I much prefer a minimal work surface. But that’s not going to cut it for the next six weeks.

The undergraduate students are really anxious, we were told in the administrators’ daily briefing. Some professors haven’t checked in with their classes at all, even though we start back up on Monday. WTF. I know we’re all stressed and at our wits’ end, but we’re supposed to be the adults here! That said, I’ve been dragging my feet on finishing my course revisions. I’ve been thinking about them nonstop, but I haven’t settled on answers to most of the questions. But I’m out of time, so it’s decision time.

We missed the worst of the storm powering its way up I-44 yesterday. We had everything from light drizzle to heavy downpours, but by evening it had moved through our immediate area and there was even a colorful sunset. We did a one-dish meal of roasted chicken thighs with turnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, and baby potatoes, all cooked together in a big iron skillet.

I spent my cocktail hour on the AT&T website in order to change our phone plan from our ancient, grandfathered 35G (with rollover) plan to an “unlimited” one. Our friends and family group includes someone with intermittent wifi access, and that won’t cut it today. Isolation is bad enough without regular internet access. On top of that, we had our fancy fiberoptic internet go out at least twice this week, which is at least twice more than it has in the last two months. The accounts I’m reading suggest that the internet will be able to bear the weight that is increasingly bearing down upon it, but we won’t really know until we’re in the midst of the heaviest usage, so having a backup system is only prudent. Mobile data is expensive and kludgy, but if it’s all you’ve got, you use it.

We didn’t watch anything on TV last night once the Newshour ended. After a day of feeling as if we had experienced repeated virtual shrieking in our ears, we decided silence was the optimal choice. Clearly we need our outside time every day, regardless of the weather conditions. And hey, if we can hike through rain in Wales, we can walk around our neighborhood. We certainly have the equipment for it.