LFH: Day 13
It was a relief to get through the teaching part of the week. I turned my attention to the admin stuff that I had put aside while I was figuring out classes and Zoom. In addition to the usual department and university tasks, I also needed to finish setting up my laptop
A couple of weeks before spring break I finally pulled the trigger and nuked the Windows 10 OS on my work laptop. I got Debian 10 up and running and installed a few of the additional programs I knew I wanted, and I got the dock, external keyboard, and mouse working. But I was short of a fully satisfactory system, and now I also had to manage new video and communication programs. I’d been switching between computers and between different Zoom apps and it was frustrating because each option had drawbacks.
Yesterday morning I managed to get the Linux Zoom client for Debian installed successfully, and what a difference that made. It seems to be full-featured and I can keep it running in the background. I also discovered that Microsoft Teams has a Linux version and that turned out to be relatively easy to install as well. Once both were up and running I uninstalled Google Chrome. I also installed my preferred alternative to Microsoft Office for simple tasks, which is the desktop (non-server) version of OnlyOffice. I’m a long way from a Linux expert so getting everything I wanted felt like a major accomplishment. And I got my bluetooth earbuds to work after a little bit of tinkering and dowloading.
That done, I logged into Zoom for yet another admin meeting. I’m on a college scholarship committee for incoming students. It gives research-focused students a full scholarship in one of four areas, and I’m on the one for social science. I’ve done it for years and I enjoy it a great deal. Usually we invite the finalist candidates out for a weekend and show them the campus and then interview them. The university visit is frequently a deciding factor for these kids, who are highly sought after. Obviously this year the campus visit, which would have taken place this weekend, wasn’t possible, but the College decided to keep as much of the schedule as they could, switching to virtual hangouts with current scholars and then video interviews with the committee.
The committee meeting was the first time we’d talked to each other anywhere but email (usually we have a couple of meetings during the finalist selection process), and it was designed both to address last-minute issues and to have a dry-run video conference, since we’ll do that after the interviews again for our final decision-making. It went fine, in fact it was surprisingly normal, with the people who don’t talk not talking much and the people who like to talk talking quite a bit. I have mixed feelings about whether turning as much of the physical weekend as possible into a virtual one is the right way to go, but it’s not my decision and I do want the process to work, so I’ll do my bit. I’m at least happy that I’m fairly comfortable at this point with the technology, and if it doesn’t work we have backup phone numbers to call.
That done, TheH and I had lunch and then I went back to work. No more Zoom meetings, thankfully, but lots of email back and forth. Everything takes longer when you can’t stick your head into an office or wander down the hall to ask a question. But compared to the previous few days it was definitely slower-paced. I have two more time-sensitive DUS tasks to complete by the end of the month and then I might be able to do some of my own work. Fingers crossed.
The other big event of the day was the university’s announcement that the current policies of working from home and staying off campus would be extended. They were previously set to expire on April 7 and now they are extended to April 22. It’s not a surprise. Missouri’s cases are rising but we’re still in the early stages of the spike that is predicted, and we probably won’t peak until May.
We ordered dinner from the fried chicken joint. They’re still open and the chicken and sweet potato fries are still excellent. They’re mostly takeaway when things are normal, so they’ve just removed the few tables and chairs and redesigned the ordering and pickup to create distance and remove direct interaction.
Tomorrow is Day 14 of our self-isolation. We’re still fine. I hope you all are too.
Glad to see that you and the necessary tech are becoming comfortable with each other. That must take a load of stress off your shoulders. I hope that gives you some time to just relax and decompress.
We manage to get out of the house once a day, weather permitting–usually to take a drive and pick up a lunch to take home. Maryland is probably another 2-3 weeks from its peak in Covid-19 cases, so we remain ever vigilant.
I finally got around to reading ‘Station Eleven’ and loved it. Ron Charles had an interesting essay in today’s print WaPo about an older book that I was unfamiliar with: https://tinyurl.com/wuq4d7e
So another book to add to the never shrinking TBR.
It really does make me feel less stressed, Barb. Zoom being predictable is huge. I’m glad you are able to get out from behind your four walls, it does make a difference.
I saw Charles mention that book in his newsletter. I hadn’t heard of it but it does sound intriguing.
I haven’t read that Tom Perrotta book, but I’ve read and enjoyed others. If you’ve seen the movie Election, it’s based on one of his novels. (I so enjoyed leaving a comment that is just about books, although I guess this parenthesis messed that up…)
@Sunita: It’s great to hear things are going well, at least technology wise, and that you are through almost all of your quarantine.
We had our monthly family Skype call that we have with my husband’s side of the family, and the connection was really bad. We’re thinking of switching to Zoom in the hopes that it is better.
On another topic, my husband lost his job recently (before the Coronavirus news) so we’ve been trying to pare back expenses, including restaurant meals, for a while. But I don’t know if we’d be ordering takeout even if that were not the case. You are brave, Sunita (and Cleo too)!
@Barb: I loved Station Eleven but it must be a very different reading experience than the one I had to read it now.
@LizMc2: I have never read Tom Perrotta but I loved the movie of Election. It was truly excellent. I believe there was another movie based on a Tom Perrotta novel, starring Kate Winslet, but I don’t remember what it was called.
Day 5 of self-isolation for me. The Canadian government has now requested that all people who’ve returned from outside Canada, not only stay at home, but no longer take walks outside during their 14 day isolation period. So I’m now reduced to standing on my back porch and admiring the slowing shrinking piles of snow in my yard.
We had the social isolation party last night and it went well — there were over dozen of us (from about 8 physical locations) and we chatted for about 2.5 hours. Kids, dogs, and guinea pigs also made special guest appearances. It was so nice to see friends if even from a distance and I’m trying to set up another party on Teams with another group of friends. Also going to try to continue my piano lessons via Zoom and maybe do some one on one online lunches.
@Liz: I think it still counts as a book comment. 🙂
@Janine: The good thing about Zoom is that if the video and audio links are bad, people can call in on their phones and be connected to the larger group. I haven’t had anyone do that yet, but it’s in the invitations.
I’m so sorry about your husband’s job situation. I hope the extended unemployment in the recent legislation will help a bit.
It’s definitely a tradeoff between increased risk and trying to help local businesses. TheH was able to find and buy a box of surgical gloves which we use when we go out and we wash our hands a lot, obviously. And we order cooked food, which helps. We put all the bags, etc. into the garbage, which feels so wasteful but what can you do.
Sorry forgot to say that the Perrotta book sounds fascinating, but I don’t know if I can read right now. Still I’m going to keep it on my list for later because it sounds like it articulates a lot of what I’ve been thinking about when people dismiss a possible mortality rate of 2% as nothing.
@Kathryn: Oh man, not going for walks would be hard. We have exercise equipment but I’ve been resisting going into the basement to use them. It’s an OK space but being subterranean is really unappealing right now. I’m glad you at least have your own space to go outside.
Good luck with the piano via video conferencing! From what I’ve seen online, people seem to be playing together in various ways, so I hope it can work for you.
@Kathryn: Agree on both points. I’m having a lot of trouble reading. I managed a chapter of the first LOTR volume when I was awake one night and fretting (it was when the Hobbits meet Tom Bombadil) and found it soothing. But for the most part it’s been hard, and not just because I’ve been really busy and tired.
third week starts tomorrow. I need to instal Zoom ( not for work but for Toastmasters), it is not difficult right? We are going to try online meeting. Boggles my mind a little but I guess better that way than no meetings at all. Glad your classes are doing okay.
@cheburashka: No, it’s not hard at all. I recommend installing the Zoom app on your computer (there is one for the iPhone as well, if you’re using your phone). That way you’ll have the most features and don’t have to worry about browser issues. You’ll get the hang of it after you use it a bit. You can also “start a meeting” with just you so that you can set up the video and background the way you want. And if you don’t want people to see your room, check under the video tab when you’re testing it out or in a meeting. If you have an option for a different background, you can choose from a couple of different ones they offer.
Thank you, will try tomorrow . And thanks for the tips.
You know how to reach me if you need help. 😉
@Sunita: Re. Zoom, do you mean that people can use their smartphones to call in, or that the app includes a phone option? Skype includes a phone option but even that had a bad connection when we used it on Friday.
On another topic, since you asked for entertainment recommendations, CBS All-Access is offering a free month right now so we got it and are watching Star Trek: Picard. I’m really enjoying it. It’s the rare television drama that is about good people doing good things and does not have any gore. And because it’s Star Trek, I know it will have a happy ending, too.
Janine, Zoom has a call-in option. When I paste the “invitation” link it includes phone numbers from a number of US and international locations. There are also iPhone and Android apps.
We watched the first two episodes of Star Trek Picard and enjoyed them too.
@Janine – I’m sorry to hear about your husband. Being out of work is never fun but this seems like a particularly tough time.
It’s funny what you say about being brave to order delivery. I feel like my definition of what’s scary keeps changing. This weekend I felt like doing the laundry in our building’s laundry room was like going into a hot zone – it was so nerve wracking. But I don’t remember thinking much about it last time I did it, just a week or so ago.
We did not order Thai food this weekend. I’m planning to buy gift cards from a couple of my fave local restaurants. And we’ll probably order out again. It’s tricky. I feel so connected to our Thai place – we’ve been going since they opened more than 10 years ago.
LikeLiked by 1 person
@cleo: We’re much the same. Going out even for limited shopping is so stressful, however careful we are. And we’re in a place where distancing is still quite manageable.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Sunita and Cleo. It’s a bad time to be out of work, but luckily we have some savings.
I have had a long relationships with some restaurants, too, and I’m worried about them. Especially the Nepalese restaurant where I regularly meet up its friends. They are very affordable but you can tell from the decor that they are not rolling in money.
I guess what makes the difference to me is that we have no choice about going shopping, whereas a restaurant meal is optional. I’m also worried about how restaurant workers handle our food since it’s not something I can see.
We have a half-used box of disposable gloves— maybe 10 pairs or so. I’m unsure whether to use them now or save them for a more dire situation.
Also wanted to nod in agreement to sleeping worse waking up more and seeing weird dreams .
I felt better hearing how many people were have sleep and dreams issues. I’ve had to deal with insomnia my whole life, and weird dreams are par for the course, but this crisis has really ratcheted them up.