Allen on no travel

Like most of the world’s population, I am not traveling.  Instead, hunkered down with my family at home.  As my wife, who is from northern Minnesota, says, with typical Upper Midwestern cheer, “It’s not so bad!”

I’m engaged in a lot of meetings held via WebEx or Zoom.  The first such meetings were a bit awkward, but they are feeling more normal now.  I’m glad I have a laptop with a big 1080p HD screen to clearly see the matrix of faces in Zoom meetings.  So far, no one has done anything as embarrassing as this.

My wife, a sociologist who works for a large Research Triangle nonprofit think tank, has long been equipped with two screens at home, complemented by a government-certified connection to her organization’s ultra-secure servers, and she, too, is conducting business as usual through virtual meetings.

Our daughter, a high school junior, and our son, a college junior, are both busy with online coursework in their respective classes.  Our son’s desk is also equipped with two screens to facilitate his classwork, and which also enhances his playtime activities, such as video chats with friends and online game-playing with colleagues around the world.

All four of us are therefore making heavy use of the Internet simultaneously day and night. Glad I had AT&T hook us up to gigabit fiber service in 2017, made even faster by a AT&T modem with upgraded software just received and installed last week. The ultra-fast fiber optic service is equally important at night when three TVs are drawing on the Internet to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.

Since three of us share office space (our son uses a desk in his room), we always wear high quality, over-the-ear headphones when conducting meetings.  Private listening ensures we can each stay focused on our respective work streams.

Three desks and work stations in our upstairs office keep us productive. Note the 777 model that Delta gave me when they flew me out to Boeing years ago to accept the very first one.

Evenings are consumed with phone calls to family and friends, putting together thousand-piece puzzles, playing cards and board games, and of course watching stuff on our two big screens and one small one.  Thank God for extraordinarily good content, like Netflix’s “Ozark” series, and also their outrageous, but highly entertaining “The Tiger King” limited series.

Via Amazon Prime Video we have also watched HBO’s “Chernobyl” series (which I very highly recommend) and season 4 of “Mr. Robot”.  Happy to find boatloads of PBS programs on YouTube, too, like the superb Frontline on the politics of A.I. from November, 2019, which I consumed last night.  Also highly recommended.  It scared the daylights out of me.

For years I’ve visited a personal trainer several times weekly for strength workouts when I was not traveling, but often neglected aerobics exercise.  Until now, that is.  We’ve been doing long family bike rides of 45 minutes to two hours.  North Carolina State University’s two campuses are nearby, and several Raleigh greenways are easily accessible, with hardly any road traffic impeding us from reaching those cycling destinations.  When we get home, I feel like a million dollars.

The strength training continues, by the way, via Skype with my trainer. I borrowed some free weights from her studio before the lock-down. It’s not an ideal method, but, hey, it’s working.

We’re lucky to be able to get out at all.  Peru, for instance, has police and military checkpoints on all roads every few miles, and the Lima 4:00 PM curfew is strictly enforced; violators go to jail.  Friends in South Africa report being locked in.  They are not allowed out except for urgent necessities, not even to walk their dogs.

We, however, are walking the paws off our poor dog.  I am afraid that she’s in for a letdown when we all go back to our normal frenetic schedules.

Whenever that may be.  We now hear the stay-at-home period could extend through May.

On the plus side, my wife has stopped complaining that our house is too big.

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