Wed 18 Mar 2020: volunteering

Well, my resolve to be a good little home-worker and make sure I actually left the house every day has cracked. The only daylight I saw was when I went to answer the door when a parcel was delivered.

Bad Plague Journalist. Naughty. Must try harder tomorrow.

Lots of well-meaning people are trying to organise “mutual aid” groups. Trouble is they’re full of the sort of people who are ever so earnest and nice, but not the sort who are good at organising anything. The one I’ve found locally has chosen poor tools – mostly WhatsApp and Google Sheets – and so is full of people asking the same questions over and over about how they can help, and if there’s been any actual tasks mentioned that need doing then I couldn’t see them. About the only task I saw was promoting the group.

Then I saw that my local MP – Steve Reed – was soliciting volunteers. As much as I dislike his politics and dislike many of his party’s members even more, they are at least very used to organising and mobilising people to get out there and do stuff – delivering leaflets, campaigning and canvassing for votes and so on – and they are “plugged in” to local volunteer groups and so on. Proper volunteer groups, not just suddenly-earnest do-gooders. So I’ve filled in his volunteer form, offering to shuffle goods back and forth in my car.

Tue 17 Mar 2020: stubborn parents

I’m getting a bit more used to this working at home thing. At lunch time I made sure to go for a walk again, this time two and a bit miles in a different direction from yesterday. Yesterday I emailed my sister with my concerns about our Agèd Ps. She had already spoken to them and the silly sods were still gung-ho about theatre visits and so on. Thankfully, by the time I phoned them this evening, the theatres had made their minds up and closed for a month. I told Mum what the official advice was, in particular that it was about *physical* distancing from others, avoiding busy places and stuff like public transport, and she seemed to get the message. I’m going to make sure that I phone them more often than normal partly because they’ll need the social contact, partly because I do too with my newly enforced lifestyle, but also to make sure that the message sticks! Their regular butcher has offered to do home delivery which was nice of him, and I’ve offered to do the rest of their shopping. She didn’t actually take me up on it, but hopefully they will with enough reminders.

Mon 16 Mar 2020: networks creaking at the seams

The morning video conference that has replaced my team’s daily standup was a bit stuttery. Residential ISPs’ networks are optimised for video streaming from CDNs, gaming, and social media. Business traffic has a very difference profile, especially given that a lot of it will be encrypted over VPNs so not amenable to inspection and routing optimisation. And business ISPs’ networks aren’t really optimised for dealing with large amounts of traffic going to/from residential networks. On previous occasions when I’ve done the odd day here and there of working at home it’s not been a problem, but now that more people are doing so we’re going to see more network degradation.

As expected I was less productive than normal before lunch. But now I’ve gone to the Lion for a pint. A brisk one mile walk in the sunshine has made me feel a bit more chipper. Traffic on the streets seems fairly normal although perhaps a few more parcel delivery drivers around. Of course, I might just be noticing them more.

Sun 15 Mar 2020: excuse to buy tech toys

Even though Ocado can regularly hit one hour delivery slots, Amazon’s delivery slot for the monster monitor is “between 7am and 10pm” so had to get up unreasonably early. Slept through my alarm anyway. It’s now 9am and I’m bored. Again, spending the day alone isn’t unusual but the circumstances of this semi-enforced isolation are grating on me.

Delivery finally arrived at 4pm. HOLY CRAP IT’S HUGE! Unfortunately my KVM can’t drive it at full resolution, so at some point I need to upgrade to a Displayport KVM which is ouchspendy.

Fri 13 Mar 2020: it begins

Yesterday my employer told everyone to start working from home if we could. I’m not looking forward to it. I’m less productive (plenty of distractions at home) but also I will have less interaction with people and won’t be forced to get exercise by walking to the station etc. If I’m going to work at home long term instead of just for an occasional day like I’ve done in the past I need some better equipment, so ordered a monster huge monitor (to be delivered on Sunday) and went to Ikea to get a more comfortable office chair. Ikea is ghastly, the shop layout is so hostile, clearly designed by a psychopath.

I’m not worried for my own health. Even though I have a chronic health condition (high blood pressure) it is well under control via the miracles of modern pharmacology, and I’m only in my mid 40s. But I am worried about my parents. They’re both in their 70s and both have had heart troubles, and Mum has lung troubles too. If I’m to visit them at all during this epidemic I need to stay infection free. I’m not going to be a monk about it, but I am going to stay more alone than normal and avoid public transport unless essential.