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Showing posts from March, 2020

Stranger Days #11: Starting The Garden

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

It's been a few years since we've lived at a place with a backyard that I could do some gardening (about 5 years).  Last year, when we moved in in June, we had just enough time to grab plants from the stores and have a lot of tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. 

But this year, it's full tilt.  We have about a 10 X 20-foot plot and I aim to use every inch of it and more.  Since we're home a lot more, I spent 2 weeks ago, doing what I call "throwing dirt."  Basically, turning over the soil and moving it about.  I do this in part because as part of the previous year's shut down of the garden, I bury some amount of dried and dying leaves to help replenish the soil. I also want to disrupt any grass that has started to grow in this area as the g…

Stranger Days #10: #Arlington6At6

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Given that the national leadership has been weak (at best) around communication about how to best prepare and address issues around Coronavirus, I've been thankful to live in a state that has been taking it seriously for several weeks.  As important, I have appreciated living in Arlington, Massachusetts, which has been actively updating the community (often daily) for a while.  But also, they have been providing updates since late February.  

As we continue to see the impact of Coronavirus on our communities, especially the many shops and restaurants in Arlington, it's been comforting to see these updates come forward regularly and have a variety of positive and useful information to help people out.  Most recently, they began sharing out the #Arlington6At6.…

Stranger Days #9: A Grocery Store Visit

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

We all like our routines.  Typically, Saturday mornings entail a sequence of getting up at 5:00am, having coffee, checking email and social media and then working out. I shower and then hit the grocery store just as it opens (7am'ish).  I like shopping at this time. There's barely anyone here and you see the same folks. Small talk with the cashiers and baggers is still possible before they're largely wiped from hours of work. Afterward, I go home, unpack the groceries and make some kind of cooked breakfast involving eggs, veggies, and veggie sausage.

It's a nice routine that reminds me in some ways of my Saturday mornings when I was a kid.  That would often consist of getting up early (again, 5am'ish) to watch Saturday morning cartoons or play vide…

Stranger Days #8: Signs on the Streets

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I don't know that I have much to say today but I did want to share some photos of things that I've captured around the town in the last few days that are appreciated messages to come upon.  It makes me think about in the years to come, how might we continue to share messages of solidarity and support--that is, can we recognize our collective humanity right now and hold onto it into whatever comes next. How do we hold onto the groundswell of kindness and connection that this moment brings out in so many of us?  

My partner made a point yesterday that it feels like we are in the moments of history where in the future, folks will be looking at photos and visual evidence of what was going on. That comment felt quite true and also made me think about how we documen…

Stranger Days #7: Resources Worth Mentioning

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Estimated Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I don't know that I have great thoughts today to share (of course, most days my thoughts aren't great--they might be a few inches above navel-gazing, right?).  

But I did want to highlight some things for folks that I'm excited to see and give some solace in these strange times.  

First, there's the move to augment copyright by authors and libraries around the world.  Levar Burton (of Star Trek and Reading Rainbow fame) has been getting the go-ahead to read to all sorts of audiences from all sorts of writers.  

Similarly, the Internet Archive (one of my favorite places on the web) has opened up the National Emergency Library so that folks can better access books, learning material and the like instantaneously through their site.  

Meanwhile, if you ever…

Stranger Days #6: Naming

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Some of us have been impacted by this for going on three weeks and others, maybe only a week.  The economy bounces up and down and a recession is definitely coming, which has some "leadership" saying, we can't stay in to save lives and that the economy is more important while other "leadership" is asking the elderly to sacrifice themselves in the name of the economy and risk getting COVID-19.  

When leaders tell us that people are disposable in name of the economy, we're being told that any of our lives doesn't matter to them. In those moments, it becomes clear what such leadership is fearing: their own potential political demise or their own loss of large assets.  They have the capacity to help those who are going to suffer from recess…

Review: Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence

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Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a book to breakdown the potential business opportunities, the authors do a good job of painting the sky in technicolor delights and getting CEOs salivating about how they could leverage artificial intelligence to improve profits. While it explains how AI works, it does not really give much lead and direction on how to implement it into business and the like; it's one of those situations where one must already vested in high-end programming within a business in order to see how to get there from here. If a reader is already part of or adjacent to the Silicon Valley-type companies, then much of this will make sense but if they sit outside that, they are less likely to find much of this book valuable beyond just learning about AI. Written from the lens of economists, the book also largely whitewashes over the problems that AI may inevitably create. They acknowledge them near …

Stranger Days #5: Keeping Things Light

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.

I started a new activity on Monday.  For some of us, we've caught up with COVID-19 changes for three weeks now and some levity seemed important.  I was motivated by the fun and goofiness that came about from a video chat with friends on Sunday night. Also, I adapted the idea from my team at work.  We've been having daily banter-check ins and the goal is to ask a question-- non-work related that we can all answer.  I looked to find interesting and goofy questions and went with this list that I found here.  

On Monday, I reached out to a bunch of friends and said, "Trying something new this week. A goofy question a day.  So, is cereal (with some version of milk) soup? Why or why not?".  

The answers that I got, were awesome in that, they were so different…

Stranger Days #4: Fun With Friends

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.

Obviously, I'm thinking a lot about what's going on in the world right now and trying to find a healthy way to think about it, process it, and both be prepared but not overly obsessed with what comes next.  Blogging may seem like a strange way of doing that but it does give me pause to think about things that are helpful, interesting, and worth sharing for folks who might also be reading this and having their own challenging experiences with COVID-19 and its long-term impact.  

Something that I anticipate taking more advantage of in the days and weeks to come is to schedule more video-chats with groups of friends.  This past Sunday, another couple that we regularly hang out with recommended a "check-in" session via Zoom.  It was a good opportunity for …

Stranger Days #3: Some Reading To Enjoy?

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.

In general, our conversations often revolve around time and together. In the shift to being homebound, these conversations seem to be even more prominent. I hear bits from folks about how days are feeling much more like Ground Hog's Day or that time feels so strange for those shifting to work-from-home as it's hard to figure out when home and work times begin and end.  

I have been checking in on friends and they have been checking in on me; particularly making sure we all feel connected and not so alone.  It's easier in some ways for those folks who live with someone (be it a romantic or platonic relationship), but we are all likely to feel lonely throughout this given the absence of interaction we have with so many people.  

Unexpectedly, I've listened …

Stranger Days #2: Use Your Words

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes


I started a new series yesterday called Stranger Days. I'm thinking of it as one of my own self-help strategies to navigate the things going on around me and how my world (and I'm assuming many others) feel significantly changed since COVID19 has spread in the last three weeks.  Who knows, maybe some folks are right that this will blow over quickly and I'll be amused by where my head is right now. I definitely hope that is the case, but too much of what I'm hearing tells me otherwise since we're in for a one-two punch of pandemic and recession.  

Yesterday's post was focused on trying not to normalize all of this.  Today's post is also focused a bit on language but rather using language to process what is going on.  Two weeks ago, as the severity of the pandemic picked up and I saw many higher education institutions shifting to remote learning as well as demand for my own skill spike in a way that hasn't happened in the 9…