Pandemic Journals, week 4

Note: These are my Covid-19 Pandemic Journals, started on 1 March 2020 (offline) and my daily entries summarized every Sunday. They contain my personal observations, opinions and musings, which would otherwise remain buried in the sheer avalanche of news and analysis in these past three months of 2020. These have been trimmed down in some places and expounded in other places so I can post them here for public consumption. These are my entries for 22-28 March, Week 4.

Online work from home

Due to the lockdown, more and more middle-class employees and free-lancers with Internet access have taken to working online at home, or are now being forced to do so. They are thus joining others who by the nature of their work or by choice have shifted to online work-at-home (WAH) arrangements even earlier. Now they realize that WAH has its own pros and cons that may sometimes crop up unexpectedly. I appreciate most of the advantages and cope with some disadvantages, having shifted to WAH and WAH-like travel duty arrangements since late 2015. But I still find it funny when I’m forced to join teleconferences and have to check my online video face for decent presentability — is my hair combed? does my beard need trimming? are there still bread crumbs along the side of my mouth? Ah, first-world troubles! (Sun 22 March)

This pandemic will probably go beyond 2020

I’ve been preparing myself physically and emotionally for long-haul adversities since grade school. I think this mindset is deeply wired into my personality. But this Covid-19 pandemic, exploding into everyone’s social environment and collective psyche, is something I still have to personally grapple with in terms of its enormous impact on people’s lives and economies, globally and in every household as well. Some analysts are now saying this pandemic is turning out to be a bit like “ World War III Lite.” A US federal projection says that it could last up to 18 months. Maybe the reason why some of the 1% elite are gearing up to enter their doomsday shelters. As ordinary people, we must be prepared for the worst, or so I’d like to wish. Let’s not fear it; fear is turning to be a worse pandemic. Rather, let’s brace for it with our resources as societies, as communities, as households. (Sun 22 March)

My lockdown mission

These past two days, I set myself a mission on bike trips. In normal times, it would have been a routine errand, certainly not worthy to be called a mission. But lockdown restrictions and a couple of personal limitations made it a real challenge, a real mission.

(1) Give away three kittens to Kamuning Market stall vendors, who always have a soft heart for homeless cats. I achieved only a 33% success rate. The two other kittens will have to wait.

(2) Hunt for a few items still lacking in my health defense arsenal, among nearby drug stores. I was only 50% successful, due to diminishing supplies on shelves as well as store restrictions that extended my waiting time to be served.

(3) Have my trusty bike’s flat tire patched. You’d be surprised at how much the guy charged me: 20 pesos only. This one is a 100% winner.

(4) Have a better sense of how my community is coping under the lockdown regime. Interviewed some small shop folk, including a tire repair shop operator and carinderia helpers. My window of time to chat was too short, and too casual. I should interview more, within the limits of physical distancing.

(5) Spend a light chat with someone who grew up in our neighborhood but fell on hard times, became a taong grasa, and is paid by locals to help the barangay clean the streets. I’ve a gut feel that he’ll survive this pandemic, having lived with and scrounged through much worse detritus in the past. I should have more chats with him. (Tue Mar 24)

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