Subject: four questions, April 16
Date: Bcc: planworld,

Answering the same four questions to record the sense of these unusual times.

  1. What did I do today?

Woke up, but was slow to get out of bed (looked at the news) and didn't grind the coffee until just before the noon teleconference (Web privacy). I had breakfast and got dressed and ready before the afternoon webinar (COVID-19, contact tracing and privacy). Made a diagram of when Durham political officials made different orders and when Google mobility data shows more isolation. Made two lunches because the first lunch was so delicious (grilled cheese with spinach and avocado; hashbrowns and fried eggs). Took a long walk along the American Tobacco Trail and past Forest Hills Park and Orchard Park and talked to a friend on the phone, which apparently works even when wearing a mask. Attended a Bike Durham meeting (Zoom) and the tail end of WordHack (Twitch). Popcorn and cookies for dinner.

  1. What did I enjoy?

The weather was just right for a nice walk, and the birds and flowers are both out in force and easily take up my granular attention.

  1. What did I find difficult?

Even when the news doesn't overwhelm me with a sense of doom, it's often enough of a distraction that I don't get to the things on my list that I wanted to do (writing a letter, reviewing a pull request, emailing my notes on contact tracing), when there are meetings and meals and such in between. I'm frustrated.

  1. What has changed?

I attend webinars now, voluntarily. I don't even roll my eyes at the prospect (maybe I do a little afterwards), I'm just happy to have the information and see people. Webinars aren't the most engaging way to communicate, but I'm also coming to realize that they're not the least.

Being far away (from friends or events) is less of a comparative disadvantage. When I'm visiting New York, I always try to attend WordHack and I always lament that the city I live in doesn't have this robust tech-poetry-art scene, but now it actually seems possible that I get some of the same engagement with crazy ideas without actually being in the largest city in the country. Attending the Princeton talk this afternoon was similar -- those are often streamed for people who aren't there in person, but it feels like you're getting less of the experience if you're one of the few remote attendees. And video hangouts with friends in California and New York or family in the midwest let me stay in touch with groups of people who seem suddenly more open to that when they can't just hang out with folks nearby. I'm optimistic that work opportunities are considering that too: I wasn't going to fly to IETF or TPAC anyway (for money/time/carbon reasons), but making those large meetings virtual makes them more accessible to me despite my lack of large corporate backing. There may be jobs of interest that weren't open to remote employees last year that may be open to them this year. It's like that dream of the Internet being the end to the importance of distance, except slightly realistic.