Two Week Quarantine Update

Time to revive this blog for a bit to share a few notes during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

I played in a chess tournament in Los Angeles the weekend of March 7-8. Participation in this event was down from prior years due to the threat of COVID-19. They had a rule prohibiting hand shaking before and after the games, but otherwise the tournament was uneventful. (Well, aside from me making a huge blunder in my last game in a favorable position against an internationally titled player, but that’s another story.) The plus side was that we had enough elbow room in the top section for social distancing, even before social distancing became a thing.

The week of March 9 was a transition week. At first it was business as usual. Our weekly run club made it out Monday night, but little did we know at the time that it would be the last gathering for a while. Tuesday night we had our Boy Scout meeting, planning out our events for the spring and summer. And Wednesday night I took my son to his youth group meeting.

But then things started to change quickly. We heard enough to cancel our usual Thursday night weekly gathering, even though we weren’t required to do so at that time. I used that free time to go for a grocery shopping run before things would get crazy a couple of days later. Although it wasn’t required at the time, I had essentially self-quarantined, as there was enough food at the house, and I already work from home.

On Friday, I got a call from a customer whose company’s stock dropped to one-third of its original price, and they asked us to wrap up our project with them early to cut expenses. Another customer decided to pull the plug on a new project which hadn’t been started yet.

The week of March 16 was the first full week that the family was all at home. After some negotiation, my wife was able to immediately start working from home, well before her employer was able to upgrade the VPN to be robust enough for everyone else in the company to also do so. The initial word from my son’s school the Friday before was that the school would remain open, then an update went out Sunday night that Tuesday would be the last day, and then they started sending students home early on Tuesday. We didn’t even bother sending him to school at all that week.

Meanwhile, I sprang into action to fill the Tuesday night void and started the first of three weekly sessions for the Chess Merit Badge to keep my son and the other Boy Scouts in the troop engaged. Since then, I’ve received some requests from others to also do Chess Merit Badge sessions for their troops.

On the work front, lately I’ve only had enough work to support a reduced work schedule, which is quite fortunate compared to others. Initially, this work slowdown was quite welcome because I was feeling under the weather most of the week, with symptoms indicating that I had either a cold, bronchitis, or a mild case of COVID-19. I had no way of knowing what it was, since getting tested for COVID-19 would have been impossible as I’m not a celebrity or an NBA player, so I made sure to get enough rest and not push myself too hard. Meanwhile, I kept a low profile that week and really didn’t share my health status to others outside of my immediate family in order to avoid any unnecessary alarm.

Luckily by the week of March 23, I was feeling a lot better (though still not 100%), so it was likely a cold or bronchitis. I returned to a more normal-ish routine for non-working hours, with daily family walk breaks, occasional runs/bike rides, and wrapping up some small unfinished projects around the house. After a transition period the prior week, my son’s classes had all moved to Zoom video conferences, settling in on a new near-term normal for him. Several of my non-work activities also moved to Zoom video conferences. I had to give my son my webcam, did I mention that it’s hard to find a timely replacement without getting price gouged?

Now, as of the beginning of the week of March 29, it looks like we’re going to be in this quarantine situation for a while. There is the temptation to use the free time at home to set lofty goals, whether they be fitness related, starting big projects around the house, etc. Certainly, there is something to be said to aspiring to more than sitting on the couch and binge-watching Netflix the whole time. However, I believe it is important to realize that we are in the middle of a pandemic, with a certain baseline stress level associated with it, not to mention the likelihood of at least being indirectly affected if someone we know were to fall ill within the next month.

In the meantime, my running will be in maintenance mode, I don’t plan to ramp up miles for a non-existent race, especially since my bronchitis-like symptoms haven’t completely gone away. We’ll still be continuing with the house projects, but ones that can be done gradually over time and don’t require a huge upfront commitment. (It’s a good thing that our kitchen remodel is behind us, we’d hate to be without a functioning kitchen during all this!)

Stay safe everyone, and I will see you all again when this is over!