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Dispatches from a shelter in place

How are you holding up? Do you need something? Let me know.

The Bay Area is like a zombie movie. Particularly at around 8am, when the smells and sounds of commuter traffic should dominate, the quiet feels supernatural. Was I whisked away in the dead of night? Is this the Upside-Down?

For some reason, construction continues unabated. I feel bad for those workers, although they're far apart from each other, so I imagine the risk of infection is minimal. I also worry about the supermarket cashiers, the kitchen staff, the food delivery people, and above all, our medical and emergency workers. Although we're under a shelter in place order, venturing outside is not banned, and going for a walk is sometimes a good idea; every time I do, I see few people, but at least one ambulance.

I've started to feel a pain in my chest when I cough, as if I can feel my lungs, but I'm almost certain it's psychosomatic. My anxiety is getting the better of me, despite my best intentions, so it's almost certainly that. Nonetheless, I'm trying to be careful.

Work continues unabated. We actually might be more productive, which suggests some uncomfortable truths about our open office layout and the number of ad hoc meetings. I've been going through videoconferencing solutions like shampoo brands: Hangouts is choppy, and GoToMeeting is annoying to use. I put my own money down for a paid Zoom account, which is by far the best. Ideologically, I'd love to use an open source, peer to peer web-based product like Jitsi, but in our real world situation, they unfortunately haven't held up. I'm sure they'll get there.

18% of American workers have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed during this crisis. I feel very privileged to not be one of them, and I want to help where I can.

I've really appreciated texting with friends, some of whom I haven't heard from in a while. I've been appreciating the photos of peoples' lockdown spots, and of people making their own fun. There are dolphins in the Venice canals. Southern California has unimaginably good air right now. If you squint, there are silver linings.

I want to stay healthy. I want to stay happy. I'm finding small ways to exercise, and to keep myself finding beauty in small things. It helps - a lot - to know that my family and friends are out there. The internet is, right now, a very clear force for good. We're all connected. All one world. All getting through this together.

PS: my matching fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders is up to $908. Please consider joining us if you have the means. I'll double your money for the first $1,000 in donations.