LFH: Days 14-17

by Sunita

I really fell behind on these posts. Although the days are starting to develop a rhythm, so each day doesn’t seem like a Whole New Thing anymore. I thought I’d be more excited when Day 14 finally arrived, but not really. We made it through the entire 14-day self-isolation period without developing any virus symptoms. Now we just hope that we can stay symptom-free.

After my great Linux Achievements on Thursday, Friday was Zoom-conference-free. It was lovely. I still had a ton of stuff to do but I got through the most pressing tasks in the morning and was able to get out and take a walk in the park in the afternoon. It wasn’t too busy so maintaining distance was easier than the last couple of times I was out and that made it less stressful. The weather improved as well and we’ve had sunshine and warmer days, and the trees are starting to flower and leaf. Every little bit helps.

I made up for my Zoom-free Friday by spending over four hours on video conferences on Saturday. This was the replacement system put in place for our scholarship weekend activities. Although it was tiring, talking to the scholarship candidates was as enjoyable and heartening as ever. They are so accomplished and mostly really sweet, and this batch felt even more like that. After four half-hour conversations with short breaks in between, we got an hour off for lunch and then convened as a group to make the decisions. All the finalists are already admitted and everyone gets at least a half-scholarship, so no one goes away empty-handed. We still took nearly an hour and half to rank the list, but that’s par for the course. That done, I shut down my computer and took a break. I should have gone out for a walk, but it was Saturday and nice and I knew the park would be packed, so I took a nap instead. 🙂

We watched another of the Maigret episodes in the evening and tried to relax. It’s hard, because the news just keeps coming. We here in STL are luckier but watching what’s happening on the coasts and other cities reminds us that we still have a ways to go.

Sunday was prep-for-teaching-on-Monday time, but it was hard to get going. I’m finding that if I sleep decently (sleeping well is a thing of the past), then the next day is OK to good, but if I wake up a lot and can remember all my anxiety dreams in the morning, it takes quite a while to shake those feelings off. TheH got himself out for a walk, but I didn’t manage it. We had to run errands Sunday morning and those take a lot of energy. We went to Walgreens which has a FedEx pickup counter because we had two boxes that had to be redirected there from their usual delivery to our offices. It wasn’t crowded so that wasn’t too bad and we managed to pick up some cleaning supplies there as well. We then stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and it was relatively quiet too. Everyone was keeping distances properly, no one was shopping with their entire extended family, and we could use the self-checkouts. When we shop we make sure to wipe the carts down with disinfecting wipes and we wear gloves when we’re out. And we take hand sanitizer. We’re planning to get or make some face masks as well.

Monday was teaching day, and as usual, one class went well and one class went OK. In the OK class Zoom kicked me off after an hour and wouldn’t let me back on so I had to boot up a second computer. That one had the audio muted and the only way I could unmute it was to hold the space bar down. I have no idea what happened. In between classes I had a committee meeting, but while I’d been dreading it because we were continuing to discuss something that was very divisive, the head of the committee proposed we table the issue. We all welcomed this, because it’s not something we can do anything about now anyway, and probably not for the next year.

The Chancellor sent out an email in the afternoon announcing a hiring freeze effective immediately. Offers that are in process will continue, but everything else is subject to highest-level approval, which means the vast majority of them are not happening. We already had a faculty hiring freeze in place for next year pending the appointment of a new Dean of Arts & Sciences and I’ll be shocked if that freeze is lifted. I looked around online and found stories saying that dozens of universities and colleges have hiring freezes for next year and some of those have also abandoned current searches. We spent part of our committee meeting talking about contingency plans for our grad students who were planning to go on the market in the fall, because it seems unlikely there will be a market. It’s 2008 all over again, if not worse. And yet, I and my colleagues and my grad students are so much better off than so many people.

Ugh, how about something more cheerful to end this post? We’re still eating well! TheH had been craving dal and vegetables and rice, so we had that last night. I made the easiest dal, which is masoor dal with onions and spices. It only takes an hour from start to finish, and the actual working time is about fifteen minutes. I made Indian-style cauliflower, only to discover when I was putting away the leftovers that we already had some in the freezer. Both sets of leftovers (frozen and fresh) can turn into curried cream of cauliflower soup. TheH made delicious Korean fried rice a couple of nights ago and has been making bread to keep us stocked. This week looks pretty good, weather-wise, and I’m determined to exercise more. I feel so much better when I do, and it’s time to break out the audiobooks I bought in the recent Audible 2-for-1 sale.