Since January 2019, Tonya has been working as a Digital Content Editor at Cornell for the Yang-Tan Institute on Disability in the Workplace, part of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. So we had only just over a year of adjusting to her not working at home, as we’ve done on TidBITS and Take Control for the previous 25 years. As a result, her having to switch to working from home has been a “yeah, whatever” moment. We bought our house in 2001 with the idea that we’d always need two full offices, and although her gear at home is a little older than what she had at work, it’s still a 27-inch iMac with a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display. (Which is what I use as well, because it rocks, though I’m starting to think about replacing my 2014 model with whatever comes next if it’s enough of an upgrade to be worth it.)
Our son Tristan is 21 and a junior at Cornell, majoring in CS and focusing on machine learning. He’s in an apartment off campus now, and when we had the conversation about what he wanted to do, he made it clear that he’d prefer to stay in the apartment with his roommate, and with two other friends in apartments in the same building. We had to suppress the “circle the wagons” parental reflex, but rationally we knew that having him home for a long period of time would be annoying for all of us. Cornell first canceled three weeks of classes and are now moving to virtual instruction since spring break just ended. Over the past few weeks, he was happy as a clam because he got to stay home all day and work on ML research with a grad student with whom he’s hoping to write a paper. When our family was posting photos of a recent spate of snow in the family Slack, he said the view out his window was a terminal.
For me, basically nothing has changed in my everyday work habits, and TidBITS continues like always since it has always been a decentralized organization. I was super happy when Apple released the new MacBook Air and iPad Pro, and again with all the OS updates, since those sort of events help me focus on work rather than getting sucked into reading news or researching coronavirus issues.
We’re finding the process of getting grocery orders delivered to be a little tricky to navigate, since the InstaCart people aren’t always that accurate in their orders, and the system overall is having issues. Delivery options are always at least 5 days out, so we start an order as soon as we can get a date and then just add to it over time. My parents live nearby, but too far away from the grocery stores for delivery, so we’re getting stuff for them too when need be. But we have a 20 cubic foot chest freezer full of local beef and pork and fruit, so along with some big stock-up shopping sessions three or four weeks ago, the groceries are mostly things that are nice to have, like milk and fresh vegetables, but not necessities.
In many ways, we’re communicating with family and friends more, since our regular Wednesday night run and pizza nights have just moved to a Zoom call, and we’ve had lots of phone calls and a few virtual dinners with far-flung relatives and friends. I’ll be curious if some of this virtual socializing continues after it’s possible to see people in person again.
Luckily, because we live in the country, it’s never an issue to go outside to exercise, though I’d like it to get a bit warmer for biking, since plantar fasciopathy is preventing me from running right now. There are a rather shocking number of people out on trails that are normally largely empty, and closer in to Ithaca, some of the walking and biking trails are almost dangerously crowded.