Updated: Mar 25
A Quick Update About The Blog Here
Today Austin, TX Mayor Steve Adler issued a shelter in place order to help prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. I’ve decided to sort of shift gears and write more about how to cope with Covid-19 and less about the biophysics of it. This shift ought to allow me to more adequately work from my roots and my training as a philosopher, while simultaneously reaching a wider audience.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about cryptocurrency — a subject I’m still very interested in and planning to write more about, eventually — as well as politics and the coronavirus. If you’ll notice, none of these topics are really directly in line with my philosophy degrees.
That’s not really unusual for me, as I’ve done everything from scientific whitepapers and patents to novels, so perhaps my first and truest calling is that of an ordinary wordsmith or writer. In any case, when I started my blog, FutureProof, my intention quickly melted away and I found myself doing all sorts of things I hadn’t really set out to do initially. It has been a wild ride but as I recall my original goal, it seems to me that it is going to be important to get back on track to really begin to connect with the audience I want to pursue.
Meme Credit: Jolt Action via Facebook
What’s Going On As People Begin To Work From Home
Though tragic and scary, the Covid-19 outbreak has washed over the United States and we’re fairly well through the period in which it was possible to do things to dramatically improve our chances of survival. Think what you will about the government’s handling of the situation or find my thoughts on the matter here if you’re interested, the situation we have today is wide range stay in place orders throughout the Lone Star State and others.
The containment measures and protocols will do their job, but not without support and adoption by the majority of the population. If we can sit on this thing for a few weeks here, we can probably kill it. We’re obligated to try because we all have loved ones and family members who are immunocompromised and/or have high blood pressure or other risk factors for severe and potentially life-threatening complications.
Most people are probably going along with this to one degree or another, but desperate conservative politicians have begun to recommend sacrificing elder family members on the altar of the economy as a way of… getting attention despite their utter worthlessness in this crisis? I’m not sure why anyone would stoop so low, to be honest, but Dan Patrick has followed Donald Trump right down this rabbit hole and frankly, to me, November cannot come soon enough. As these guys show their true colors, I can only hope that voters everywhere are noticing how little their safety and that of their loved ones matters to some of their elected officials.
Meme Credit: Unknown
How Working From Home Has Affected Me
My life, ever since I left the biotech company I helped to found back in ’18, has been a bit of a mess. I discovered I was damned good at learning the language of science and applying it to make predictions in the lab. I still don’t have the credentials I need for that to be a rewarding career, though — and as my fledgling startup hired Ph.Ds and I began to realize just how unbelievably difficult to work with these people would be, it became abundantly clear that I would need to go back to school and round out my resume a bit before I could reach my full potential. That’s why I have to hedge when I write about ongoing situations — I can be as confident as I want, but I have to find partners with credentials to get anything done.
So I’m going back to school with the goal of pursuing my M.D., with resources from my savings, my family, and the gig economy sort of patching together a basic living. I’ve written and published two books (Formal Dialectics and Further From Home) and have two more on the way (Bring Back Satire and A Murder in the Silicon Hills), and I’m still interested in doing philosophy pieces. All of these can eventually produce a passive income, but I have no idea if it will be enough to put me through medical school.
For all of these reasons, working from home is nothing new for me. The trick is to establish a routine and stick to it. For me, it’s best to be active in the mornings and collect thoughts along the way, then sit down to work in the afternoons. Classes have impacted my productivity by limiting my ability to really focus on my own work, but I’m still putting out a fair volume. You may or may not be in a similar boat, but we’ve all got a bit of time to experiment and find out what works.
Rising Anxiety During the Covid Pandemic
The famous quote from FDR, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” seems applicable to the current situation. If we can avoid worrying too much about the economy, we’ll probably find that sheltering in place for a few weeks will provide the Covid-19 outbreak to fizzle out and allow things to more or less return to normal.
However, a lot of people are extremely worried that this is not a likely outcome in the current situation. Americans in general have an anarchic streak which is expressed in terms of disdain for spirituality on the left and disregard for science on the right. Everyone has some sort of — real or otherwise — authority figure they like to act in spite of, here. I’m not excluding myself from this, as I love to hate religious authority and spiritual leaders who are full of shit.
The issue is that we’re all at each other’s throats right now, even more than usual. Conservatives have changed their stance that the disease is a hoax to an outright claim that the economy is more important than the health of elders (a major part of their own base!) and immunocompromised Americans. Liberals are (understandably) using the crisis to talk about what an idiot Donald Trump is. Hint: He’s really, really stupid, and more willing than ever to do stupid things to foster a dialogue about how dumb he is.
At the end of the day, none of this is productive. As the stimulus package languishes in a divided Congress, millions of Americans are no longer gainfully employed and the entire industries many of them work for have been called into question. Will any of these return to their former height when the disease abates? Unfortunately, a lot of it depends upon what happens next. If we contain Covid, a return to normalcy may be forthcoming, but if we keep acting like there’s nothing wrong, it may take much, much longer.
Tips For Managing Stress
To manage the stress of the situation (many people are referring to it as the apocalypse), I’ve got a list of tips. None of these things is a silver bullet, but if you can recognize the ones most likely to help you it may be the case that adding a few of these action items to your schedule will help you cope more effectively.
· You’re not going for a new triathlon or the Olympic Gold in distance running here, but you want to do at least a half hour per day if you can manage it.
· Try out walking meditation (you just walk and think thoughts or try to avoid thinking thoughts), biking, hiking in nature, yoga, or even basic calisthenics like push-ups and sit-ups in your apartment.
· The simple fact is that dirty dishes sitting around make us stress. Spend 20–30 minutes cleaning your space each day.
· You would be surprised how cathartic it can be to sit down and write your thoughts in a journal. It can clarify anxieties or even facilitate planning. Songs, poems — whatever it takes is fine. The goal is to get your thoughts down because it’s good for you to let it out.
· You are surrounded by other people. They may be family, chosen family, a company, or neighbors — the more involved you can be, the better you’ll feel. Call your people on the phone and talk to them, or if you’re healthy, find a way to volunteer in your community. You won’t regret feeling like you’re part of the solution.
Build A Routine
· Try to wake up in the morning at the same time each day, then to to sleep at the same time each night. Figure out what works and divide your day into blocks: exercise, clean, care, create.
Good luck out there. I’ll be back in the next few days with another article.