Several years ago, I had a job for a virtual company. There was no brick-and-mortar location; the entire job was work-from-home. To accommodate myself for the position, I went out and bought a new, comfortable office chair. If I was going to work-from-home, I wanted to make sure I was comfortable. I made sure my home office setup was one that I could deal with over the course of the position.
Several years later (present-day), I’m working a position where I am able to work from home, although I much prefer going into the office. I have a comfortable desk setup and two monitors. I’ve adapted it to my preferences, and it’s an environment I enjoy and in which I’m productive.
Before COVID-19, my work-at-home setup was me sitting in my living room recliner with the TV on in front of me. I didn’t do it all that often, but for the few times that I worked from home, it wasn’t a big issue.
That changed with COVID-19. It took me a little while, but I realized that I was being unproductive. There were too many distractions. My work environment was uncomfortable… or, more accurately, it was too comfortable. I was picking up bad habits. I was watching TV more than I was concentrating on my work. I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing.
It took me a while — about a week — before I realized what I was doing. It’s like the situation where you’re working on something and you start zoning out, completely unaware that you’re doing it.
When I came to that realization — today — I realized that I had to change my setup. I cleared out some space in my home office (I hadn’t been making much use of it, other than for my personal non-work laptop), put my work laptop on my desk, and started working. The difference was night and day. I was suddenly focused on my work again. My thought processes were better. I wasn’t sinking into my chair the way I was with my recliner. And I don’t have the TV to distract me.
Granted, I’m still not in a completely ideal environment. My desk (and my entire home office) is cluttered, so there isn’t a lot of room to work. Subsequently, I am working entirely off my laptop, as opposed to having a monitor, mouse, and keyboard with which I’m comfortable. That should come along as I get reacquainted at my work-at-home office space. Getting a new monitor setup and clearing out my home office has soared up my priority list. But to be able to work and be productive again is well worth the change.
I’ll admit that I haven’t been doing a very good job of staying on top of my ‘blog lately. This is an article I’ve tried to start several times during the past couple of weeks of confinement, but I’ve fallen into some bad habits during this ordeal. I won’t get into them right now; it’s not a subject I care to delve into, although I might write about it another time (there’s a reason why I’m titling this article “part 1;” I suspect this won’t be my first article about COVID-19).
I suppose a good way to start this article is the start of my personal COVID-19 experience. The crisis hit home for me when this news bit appeared. I play the piano for OLA, so of course, I was there. Upon hearing about this, I immediately left my office for home, where I self-quarantined until this past Sunday.
Even after my quarantine period expired, however, I didn’t really leave home. I haven’t had much reason to do so. My office is closed through at least April (thankfully, I have the ability to work from home). The Albany Catholic diocese has shut down churches, so I have no reason to go on Sunday mornings (disclosure: I am not Catholic; I only go because I play the piano for a Catholic church on Sundays). My gym is closed, and the band I play in is shut down until further notice. Even if I can go anywhere, I don’t have any place to go.
As of right now, I don’t have anything of note to write about. My days at home are spent writing documentation, watching TV, and playing Xbox (in case you’re wondering, my main Xbox addiction is EA Sports NCAA Football). There are a lot of other things I can and probably should be doing during our period of confinement, including (but not limited to) spending more quality time with my wife, taking advantage of the time to learn things, and work out. I wish I could tell you that I’ve had a great revelation during my time in isolation, but that moment hasn’t happened yet. When it does, I’ll make sure I write about it.
So for now, the main reason for this article is to let my regular readers (both of you) know that I’m still alive. I’ll try to get better about writing any insights I might have. Until then, carry on (my wayward son)…
I’ve already had events on my calendar canceled, postponed, or rescheduled (including, among other things, SQL Saturday Chicago and Albany Code Camp), and as a sports fan, I’m disappointed that the NCAA Tournament is canceled and the start of the MLB season is being delayed, among other events all over the sports world. It’ll be strange turning on the TV and not being able to tune into a sporting event. But I understand why these things are happening. Events can always be rescheduled, and there are some things that are bigger than sports.
Nevertheless, all we can do is adapt and persevere. In case anyone is wondering (or cares) about how I’m dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, here you go…
Things I’ve been doing anyway, even before COVID-19
Should we be concerned about COVID-19? Of course we should. The WHO has declared a pandemic, which is not something that should be taken lightly. That said, for me, life goes on. I’m still getting up and going to work. At the moment, I haven’t gone out of my way to change my routine, unless I have to.
I’m also not one of those people who’ve rushed out to stock up on toilet paper or hand sanitizer. I still have that big package of TP that I bought from BJ’s a few months ago, and I still have a number of rolls left.
I am not walking around wearing a mask. According to CDC guidelines, only those who are sick should wear a mask. To the best of my knowledge, I am not yet sick. Hopefully, I’ll stay that way.
Bottom line, I’m following common sense guidelines, and doing what people who know more than I do (such as the CDC) suggest I do.
I live in a region where we get snow during the winter. I refuse to panic any time we get reports of heavy snow. And I refuse to panic now.
This isn’t to say I’m doing nothing. Keep reading…
Washing my hands
C’mon, people, this is common sense. Wash your hands after using the toilet or when they get dirty. This is something I do, anyway. Can I tell you how disgusted I get whenever I see people walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands? Seriously?
I don’t know how helpful this is (if a medical professional who know more than I do is reading this and tells me to refrain from passing this information along, I will gladly do so), but I regularly drink lots of water during the workday, anyway. I keep a Nalgene bottle at my desk, and I fill it with ice and water at least two or three times a day, if not more. My thinking is that staying hydrated is a good thing to do anyway, and it’ll help flush nasty things out of my system.
Helping others out when possible
In this time of crisis, there are other people out there who might need some extra assistance. If you see anyone in this situation, it pays to be a good neighbor and lend a hand.
(Note: at the risk of sounding political, if there was ever a reason why we still need good, reputable, unbiased, and accurate local news coverage, this is it. That’s another conversation for another time.)
Things I’ve changed because of COVID-19
Getting more vigilant
“Life goes on” doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to stay on top of the situation. I’ve become much more wary of people around me. Whenever I hear anyone cough or sneeze, my ears immediately perk up. To the best of my knowledge, none of my coworkers are sick. I usually try to avoid people who are sick, anyway, but I’m a lot more wary about it this time around.
I’m also staying on top of my own health. I remain wary about potential symptoms, such as fever, cough, congestion, or shortness of breath. So far, I haven’t seen any symptoms, and I don’t think I’m sick. (Disclosure: I sleep with a CPAP machine, so it’s not unusual for me to wake up congested or with the sniffles.) Of course, if anything comes up, I’m ready to self-isolate, if I need to do so.
Although my go-to-work routine hasn’t changed, I’m one of those fortunate enough to have the ability to work-from-home. Should my employer direct me to work-from-home, I am able to do so.
As I write this, it occurred to me that I likely should pick up some groceries at some point. Hopefully, all those who are panicking haven’t cleared out the aisles yet.
Did I leave anything out, or do you have any other suggestions to help people out? Feel free to leave them below in the comments.
We’re all in this together. Let’s work together to nip this thing. And by working together, we’ll get through this crisis.
Not long ago (I don’t remember how long — I’ll say a couple of weeks), I stumbled across a ‘blog post that someone had written. Apparently, this person was a new SQL Saturday speaker. I don’t remember his name, and from what you’re about to read, it’s probably just as well.
I don’t remember exactly what was said, so I’ll paraphrase: “I just applied to speak, and was accepted at, a SQL Saturday in (some city that’s not local to me). Now I have to figure out how to pay for my trip! Can you all help me? Here’s a GoFundMe page to help me out!”
I resisted the urge to write him back to say, “you’re a f**king moron. You’re not getting a single dime from me. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency (or charity) from mine!!!”
SQL Saturday is an all-volunteer event, and organizers go through a great deal of time and effort to plan it and ensure that the speakers are lined up to the schedule. Committing to speak at SQL Saturday and not keeping that commitment disrespects the organizers, and it does not reflect well on you. If you renege on your commitment to speak at SQL Saturday, try seeing if you’re ever invited again.
It’s not just about travel planning, either. If I was interviewing this person for a job (note: I’m in no such position), I would highly question his ability to make smart decisions. Unless he could demonstrate to me that he learned from this mistake, I would not ask him back for a second interview.
Clearly, this person leapt before he looked, and in my mind, he has no common sense whatsoever. Whenever I apply to speak at a SQL Saturday, the first thing I do is check to make sure that I can do the trip. Among other things, I make sure the date is clear on my calendar, and I make sure that I can actually get there (there’s a reason why the large majority of SQL Saturdays where I present are ones to which I can drive).
On March 21 (a few weeks from today), I will be speaking at SQL Saturday Chicago. I Googled the driving time from Albany to Chicago, and it told me it would take 12 hours, which is much longer than I am willing to drive for a short weekend trip. I put together a hypothetical itinerary using Amtrak (I love traveling by train — I prefer it over flying whenever possible) and Chicago-area public transportation, Lyft (which I tend to prefer over Uber), and hotels. (I also looked into renting a car, but there were very few rental agencies near Union Station that were open for the hours that I needed it; besides, I didn’t want to deal with traffic in a strange city, and it was also more expensive than the other options.) I came up with a game plan that was workable and would not break the bank. When I realized that the trip was do-able, I went ahead and applied to speak (and was accepted) at SQL Saturday #945 in Chicago!
I enjoy attending sporting events. My previous post got me thinking about the sports venues that I’ve visited, and I thought it’d be fun to compile that list!
A few caveats: I only list venues (along with their home teams and/or events) in which I’ve actually seen a game. For example, I’ve set foot in Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, but I didn’t actually see a game there, so it’s not on my list.
I don’t list opposing teams. I’ve been to so many events that I don’t remember them all. Also, for “home” arenas in which I’ve seen large numbers of games, they’d be too many to list, anyway.
I also denote any arenas that are homes to “my teams.” While I live two hours away from Syracuse, I still consider the Carrier Dome as my “home” arena. Geographically, Siena and UAlbany are only minutes away from me, and I do root for the home team in those arenas, but they’re not necessarily “my” teams or home arenas.
I only consider organized professional (major or minor league) and NCAA (any division) teams or events. Organized non-professional or collegiate events (e.g. Little League World Series, Olympic games, etc.) count too, although I’ve never been to one. The pickup game of touch football in the public park doesn’t count.
These are listed in no particular order, although I try to list my “home” arenas, places I’ve visited more often, and places geographically close to me first.
I mark arenas that either no longer exist or are no longer used for that sport with an asterisk (*).
All games are regular season games, unless denoted.
I have never been to an NBA, NHL, or major soccer game, which is why you don’t see them listed.
So without further ado, here’s that list.
Arenas I’ve visited
Yankee Stadium (new), Bronx, NY — NY Yankees (my home arena), ALDS
Yankee Stadium* (old), Bronx, NY — NY Yankees (former home arena)
Joseph Bruno Stadium, Troy, NY — Tri-City ValleyCats (another home arena), NCAA Div-III tournament regional
Heritage Park*, Colonie, NY — Albany-Colonie Yankees (former home arena), Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs
Robison Field, Troy, NY — RPI Engineers (my home field)
Fenway Park, Boston, MA — Boston Red Sox
Shea Stadium*, Queens, NY — NY Mets
Citi Field, Queens, NY — NY Mets
Kingdome*, Seattle, WA — Seattle Mariners
Safeco Field (now T-Mobile Park), Seattle WA — Seattle Mariners
Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD — Baltimore Orioles, All-Star Game
SkyDome (now Rogers Centre), Toronto, ON — Toronto Blue Jays
MacArthur Stadium*, Syracuse, NY — Syracuse Chiefs
Alliance Bank Stadium (now NBT Stadium), Syracuse, NY — Syracuse Chiefs
Olympic Stadium*, Montreal, PQ — Montreal Expos
Veterans Stadium*, Philadelphia, PA — Philadelphia Phillies
Tiger Stadium*, Detroit, MI — Detroit Tigers
Coors Field, Denver, CO — Colorado Rockies
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL — Tampa Bay Rays
Damaschke Field*, Oneonta, NY — Oneonta Yankees
East Field*, Glens Falls, NY — Glens Falls Redbirds, Adirondack Lumberjacks
Stade Canac, Quebec City, PQ — Quebec Capitales
Dwyer Stadium, Batavia, NY — Batavia Trojans
Silver Stadium*, Rochester, NY — Rochester Red Wings
Places where I’ve never seen a game, but are on my wish list: Wrigley Field, Chicago; Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles; Oracle Park, San Francisco; Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City; Petco Park, San Diego; Nationals Field, Washington DC; PNC Park, Pittsburgh; any Nippon Professional League game in Japan
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY — Syracuse Orange (my home arena)
ECAV Stadium, Troy, NY — RPI Engineers (my other home arena)
’86 Field*, Troy, NY — RPI Engineers (another home “arena”)
Bob Ford Field, Albany, NY — UAlbany Great Danes
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA — Boston College Eagles
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD — Navy Midshipmen
Michie Stadium, West Point, NY — Army Black Knights
Veterans Stadium*, Philadelphia, PA — Temple Owls
Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT — Yale Bulldogs
Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ — Syracuse Orange (NOT my home arena!)
Giants Stadium*, East Rutherford, NJ — Syracuse Orange (also not my home arena!)
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH — Ohio State Buckeyes
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA — Sugar Bowl
Pontiac Silverdome*, Pontiac, MI — Cherry Bowl
Tampa Stadium*, Tampa, FL — Hall of Fame Bowl
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ — Fiesta Bowl
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY — Pinstripe Bowl
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL — Camping World Bowl
Places where I’ve never seen a game, but are on my wish list: Harvard Stadium, Harvard; Memorial Stadium, Clemson; Beaver Stadium, Penn State; Rose Bowl, UCLA; Michigan Stadium, Michigan; Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY — Syracuse Orange (my home arena), NCAA tournament
Manley Field House*, Syracuse, NY — Syracuse Orange (women)
RPI Armory*, Troy, NY — RPI Engineers (my other home arena)
Times-Union Center, Albany, NY — Siena Saints, MAAC tournament
Alumni Recreation Center*, Loudonville, NY — Siena Saints
SEFCU Arena, Albany, NY — UAlbany Great Danes, America East tournament
Pittsburgh Civic Arena*, Pittsburgh, PA — Pitt Panthers
Lundholm Gymnasium, Durham, NH — UNH Wildcats
Case Gym, Boston, MA — Boston University Terriers
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome*, Minneapolis, MN — NCAA tournament
Reunion Arena*, Dallas, TX — NCAA tournament
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY — St. John’s Red Storm, Big East Tournament, NIT Preseason Tournament
Barclays Arena, Brooklyn, NY — preseason tournament
Places where I’ve never seen a game, but are on my wish list: The Palestra, Penn; Allen Field House, Kansas; Pauley Pavilion, UCLA; Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke
RPI has a new arena: ECAV (East Campus Athletic Village) Arena. I have yet to see a game there.
Houston Field House, Troy, NY — RPI Engineers (my home arena)
Messa Rink, Schenectady, NY — Union Dutchmen
Times-Union Center, Albany, NY — Mayor’s Cup/Capital Skate Classic, NCAA tournament
Glens Falls Civic Center*, Glens Falls, NY — Mayor’s Cup/Capital Skate Classic
Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY — Cornell Big Red
Starr Rink, Hamilton, NY — Colgate Raiders
Tate Rink, West Point, NY — Army Black Knights
Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, MA — Harvard Crimson
Yale Ice Arena, New Haven, CT — Yale Bulldogs
Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH — Dartmouth Big Green
Olympic Ice Arena, Lake Placid, NY — ECAC tournament
Walter Brown Arena*, Boston, MA — Boston University Terriers
Cumberland County Civic Center (now Cross Insurance Arena), Portland, ME — Maine Black Bears
Hartford Civic Center (now XL Center), Hartford, CT — I don’t remember the event, but it was four teams: RPI, Maine, Colgate, and I don’t remember who the fourth team was.
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY — Rivalry On Ice (Yale vs. Harvard)
Places where I’ve never seen a game, but are on my wish list: Alfond Arena, Maine; Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton; Matthews Arena, Northeastern
Times-Union Center*, Albany, NY — Albany River Rats, Albany Devils
Giants Stadium*, East Rutherford, NJ — NY Giants (my home arena)
Rich Stadium (now New Era Field), Orchard Park, NY — Buffalo Bills
Sullivan Stadium*, Foxborough, MA — New England Patriots
Veterans Stadium*, Philadelphia, PA — Philadelphia Eagles
Although I’ve been to Met Life Stadium, it was for a Syracuse game. I have yet to see the Giants there.
Landsdowne Stadium*, Ottawa, ON — Ottawa Roughriders
Times-Union Center*, Albany, NY — Albany Firebirds
Wow, I’ve attended a lot of sporting events!
Anyway, this was a fun exercise, and a neat list to put together. I’m hoping to add to it!
I became interested in this ‘blog for several reasons. I am an alumnus of an NCAA Division I power conference basketball school. I am a college basketball fan, and a sports fan in general. I was a pep band member in college, so that fandom tends to be amplified. I enjoy visiting and exploring sports venues. And I love to travel (although I don’t always have the time or money to do so).
I became curious about his ‘blog. I did a quick skim of his impressions about my “home” arena. I also have two Division I basketball schools within fifteen minutes of my home (Siena and UAlbany), so when I have a chance, I’ll have to read those as well. His ‘blog looks interesting, so I’ll have to read through it some more when time allows!
I applaud the gentleman’s efforts. While I’m not as ambitious as he is to try attending 350 basketball arenas, I do enjoy catching games whenever I can (I recently caught a St. John’s game at Madison Square Garden during a weekend getaway down in New York). I will confess to having a pipe dream of attending games in all thirty Major League Baseball stadiums. (So far, I’ve made it to Yankee Stadium [both old and new], Citi Field, Shea Stadium, Fenway Park, Camden Yards, SkyDome/Rogers Centre, Olympic Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Kingdome, Safeco Field [or whatever they call it now — T-Mobile park, or whatever it is], Tropicana Field, and Coors Field. Whew! I think that’s all of them!)
Everyone needs to go out and experience life. One of my ways of doing it is attending sporting events. Whatever it is you enjoy, go out there and enjoy life!
I often get requests to connect from people I don’t know. I will only connect with people with whom I have some kind of established relationship. It’s so bad that I put this note prominently at the top of my LinkedIn profile.
If you want to connect with me, please indicate how we’re connected; otherwise, I will ignore or delete your request. I do NOT accept unsolicited connect requests from people I don’t know.
Granted, just because I don’t know you doesn’t mean I won’t connect with you. However, you need to give me a reason as to why I should connect with you. It doesn’t have to be much — even something as simple as, “I enjoyed (meeting/talking/listening/whatever) to you at (user group/activity/party/whatever). Can we connect?” is enough for me to at least acknowledge you.
There are a number of people who think that just because we have friends or groups in common that they can just connect with me. The fact is, if I don’t know who you are, and you don’t tell me how we’re connected, I will not connect with you. Just because we’re part of the same user group doesn’t mean I will connect with you. Several user groups and activities I’m in often have numbers of people whom I don’t know. You need to tell me we’re in the same user group. Do not make me have to work to figure out who you are.
I am very particular about this, especially in this day and age of identity theft and data security. It’s one thing to be asked a favor, but it’s quite another to be taken advantage of. There is a difference.
Networking is about relationships. Tell me what our relationship is, and I’ll be happy to connect with you, even if I don’t know you. But if you send me an unsolicited connect request with absolutely no indication as to how we’re connected, chances are I will delete or ignore your request. Don’t send me a cold-call connect request with no explanation as to how we’re connected and expect me to connect with you.