Does dressing up mean matching socks and yoga pants?

Have you hit sartorial bottom yet?

Whether you are fortunate enough to work from home, or are still schlepphing into the office daily, are you not the person you were before the pandemic changed just about everything?

Are you using belt notches that are closer to the buckle? Have your sartorial standards slipped a notch? Has your attitude toward work, life, whatever, changed?

If so, is anything good coming out of this? Last week we ran some comments from feds in lockdown. Fascinating because this is really happening to all of us, no exceptions. We are all in the same boat even though some of us are in higher class cabins. But it is fascinating to know how people like us, and not, people we’ve worked with or never have known are doing, some better than ever.

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Here’s how one fellow fed who asked to be anonymous is coping or not, in some cases:

“Hmm, well, not sure my thoughts are worth much. My brain, like a lot of things around the world, feels kind of as if it is “on hold,” hibernating. The rational, reasoning part of me recognizes that there is not going to be any simple “return to ‘normal’ “ life as I used to live it, but the less logical parts of my brain can’t seem to accept that.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, I haven’t suffered financially. My job can be done from home. I am in complete support of telework for government workers, but I’ve never much liked working from home very much. I prefer a clear delineation between personal and work life, and I’m honest enough to admit I lack a certain discipline to make working from home as effective as working in an office location. I get distracted and want to clean something, throw in a load of laundry, try out fabulous new recipes, etc. And then there are the pets; I don’t have kids to worry about, but the pets are pretty distracting, too. They think that if I’m at home, then I’m there to pay attention to them. If you’ve tried locking pets in another room, or outside a home office room, you know that is not a good solution. Unless you want to replace the door and floor where they are scratching to get in with you, and unless you want to listen to them bark/whine/meow incessantly to tell you they want to be with you.

“The workplace has also shown definite ‘creep’ into personal life. Meetings are scheduled later and later, because everyone assumes you’re not going anywhere, so you might as well stay ‘on the clock’ and attend meetings after your tour of duty is officially over. Similarly, the already ridiculously short deadlines have gotten shorter for the same reason – you’re at home, you can’t go out much, you might as well be online until midnight providing responses with absurdly short turnaround times.

“Executives have known for months that mail plans would need to be developed for return of operations, but they talked and did nothing until the week before resumption of mail delivery and then dumped it down the line to front line managers to come up with a plan for each location where they had employees — with less than a week’s notice. The big positive is that I no longer even try to wear uncomfortable ‘work’ clothes. I’m not sure I could ever get back in the habit of doing so. And I do appreciate the time savings of not having a commute, even though my commute was an easy one.

“On the ‘personal life’ front, I’m an introvert, so I haven’t missed a lot of social activity. I hate hugging so I’m more than happy to keep a social distance. I’d prefer six meters to six feet. But there are a few things I miss, mostly, the opportunity to travel. I do have friends in the U.K. and I’ve had to cancel my annual trip to see them. I worry about never being allowed in another country ever again, since we have become a plague nation. I miss planning even domestic travel and worry when I’ll feel safe getting on a plane again. Travel is the one thing I spend most of my disposable income on, it gave me something to look forward to, and now I feel like a prisoner in my home. I feel vaguely claustrophobic, and worry how I’ll cope when the weather gets bad and it’s hard to spend as much time outdoors. You can’t sit in a park, socially distanced from friends, eating take out, when there’s snow and ice on the ground, and the temperature may hit 30 degrees – if you’re lucky. Which brings me to the other thing I miss, which is going out to cafes and having coffee and a snack, reading my book. As an introvert, I don’t much miss human interaction, but I miss just getting out and seeing others, in different locations.

“So I’m doing ok, not in danger of losing my home, like so many others. I wear a mask and despise the politicization of this situation. I socially distance, and I feel like mostly I’m hunkered down with a nebulous hope for an effective vaccine and treatment. Worrying whether fellow citizens will avail themselves of such a vaccine is a different matter. I would say I’m somewhat depressed and try not to think too far in advance, as it doesn’t look like a promising future, at least not short-term.”

Then there’s this from a fed from Washington state:

“I have been on mandatory or ‘strongly encouraged’ telework for quite some time. I have shaved off a one-hour commute to another small town off my day. I have used this time wisely, by exercising more, taking my dog for a 1.5 mile hike around our small town (less than 1,000 people). I have been doing more of my normal hobbies such as yard work, gardening as well as playing with my kids ages 16, 13 and 8. I have also finished a painting that I had started before my 13 year old was born. Most of these are activities that are rewarding most of the time.

“I really enjoy teleworking because I am more productive, my office is isolated away from the family. I actually get more done but I do not get to collaborate or visit as much with my coworkers, whom I do miss. To cope with this situation we occasionally have MS Teams or share our screen with Skype if we need technical assistance. I actually take my 30 minute mandatory lunch break rather than eating at my computer. Lunch is just down the stairs and to the left. When my kids were still in ‘distance learning’ school, I would sometimes see my daughter’s art teacher. It was always fun to chat with her for a few minutes during my lunch break.”

And here is an add-on from her 13-year-old son, who is also locked down:

“For me coping with online school has been easier than most people think. First of all, if I get hungry and it isn’t lunch time yet, I can get a snack. I also like the fact that the teachers cannot really yell at you when you are goofing off because we are both at our homes. Finally, if I have a question about my schoolwork then I can easily ask my dad or a teacher that is online the question and they can help me figure out the answer to said question.

“As you can see by the first paragraph, I am coping with the new learning environment well. However, some things do help me cope with this new learning environment. I like playing video games after school. This helps me relax and deal with stressful situations. Playing outside also helps me deal with school and gets me some exercise. Along with these two examples, I take walks around town and that helps me get my exercise when I would normally be sitting in a desk stagnant. While I have the resources to make my learning environment work well for me. I would guess that some of my fellow students would struggle as they do not have the resources I have access to.”

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

In 1816, a catastrophic global weather anomaly caused record-low temperatures and massive food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere in what is now called “The Year Without A Summer.” The April 1815 volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia released so much atmospheric dust that sunlight dropped, causing colder global temperatures by about 0.4-0.7 degrees Celsius (0.72-1.26 degrees Fahrenheit). In fact, much art produced from this period depicts the vivid sunsets and darker moods created by the volcanic skies.

Source: Wikipedia