T-SQL Tuesday #132: How Are You Coping with Pandemic?

T-SQL Tuesday #132: How Are You Coping with Pandemic?

T-SQL Tuesday was started some time ago by Adam Machanic whereby lots of people blog their thoughts on a common topic. Month #132 is hosted by Taiob Ali. This month we will share how each of us is coping with a global pandemic.

These subjects are in no particular order, written in a rush without time to edit (prompted by Justin Bird’s post earlier – thanks @jbmetricy), and with too little about work and my learning imho. Written at the end of a day off, spent mainly trying to reduce the heat loss in my home office while waiting for an xBox delivery.

My employer (Target Group) have been pretty good through lockdown. They were prepared. They had invested heavily in kit and infrastructure to make mass working from home possible. They listened in the early days where many employers were insisting that people go to the office – they were happy for people to work from home.
One side issue was that my son also works at Target Group, so we were briefly a satellite office, with me providing infrastructure support and coffee.
One of the few benefits of this situation was that after some months, James decided that it was time to move out 🙂 As people are more likely to be able to work remotely then it aided him in this (as did months of lockdown).

I like a decent coffee, and had just upgraded my coffee machine just before lockdown. This means I can make a coffee shop quality cappuccino every morning so it has more than paid for itself in just a few months.

Anyone who has known me over the past ten years would know of my love for running. Proud to have attended the second week of our local parkrun, and about 285 times later, together with numerous fun runs, half marathons, almost half marathons (The Great South Run is 10 miles, a nice distance) and a full “London” Marathon. I have made many friends through running, run with some interesting people including (Mo Farah (London 10K, Great North Run) and Paula Radcliffe (Olympic Park, London) to name just a few – they were at the front, obviously, but the same race.
When lockdown hit, I took the opportunity to replace our aging Treadmill. Our new one has a feature called “iFit” – you get guided workouts where the trainer takes you to amazing places, talks you through the session and controls the speed / incline of the treadmill as you go.
During the initial weeks of Lockdown, having squandered my daily outdoor activity on walking the dog, I spent a month in Hawaii, followed by a trip to Greece, fluttered up the Amalfi Coast and numerous trips around Japan. I didn’t like Australia as it was just too busy around the Sydney Opera House. I followed the instructor through the crowds but ended up almost coming off the treadmill as my instincts kicked in and tried to avoid them.

I’ve changed now. I got myself a rower to try to finally build some arms (it’s working!). My Strava account has changed remarkably, congratulating me on my “watersports activities”. Not a term I’d use, but it raised a smile.
More importantly, I have changed my exercise routine to do it before breakfast – 30 minutes from 07:15 each weekday. A struggle to start with, but I love it now. I used to do guided rows, but now follow rowing plans (if you think running is repetitive, try rowing!). I also watch things on TV.
I started by watching videos about rowing, then I watched a few musicals, then discovered that I can take in information from training videos (I can’t do that on a treadmill). I am currently watching “The Boys” on Amazon (from one of my favourite Graphic Novelists – Garth Ennis), but that will change again soon.
My rower lives in the garage (as does my DIY SkiErg), so that got an upgrade – painted the walls and floor, draft proofed the door. It’s just a really nice place now.

I miss my colleagues. I miss the chats at the coffee station. I miss catching up over lunch.
I miss just being able to wander over to talk to someone about their requirements or to talk over a problem. I know that we have Microsoft Teams and that helps, but it’s not great.
When talking on Teams, I will put my camera on as much as possible – you get a far better level of contact, understanding and respect when you are face-to-face.
Look out for the headset though. I was on a meeting where the other person spotted my dog being let into the room. They proceeded to call, whistle and blow kisses to the dog, much to my horror. Erm, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable, I said – pointing to my headset where all of the noises went. Err, me too was the response so we continued the meeting without talking about the awkward incident. Esmee took up her position on the chair behind me, totally oblivious to the fuss that she missed out on.

People (in general)
As mentioned with colleagues, I am a social person. I love company. During lockdown, I have attended a few Zoom calls and call my parents a few times a week, but it’s hard.
Since February, I have only once been able to catch up with a friend… In real life… at a place. It was a seriously rainy Saturday morning and we caught up at a big park to hoop under the trees. We had music, we had an audience (set up by the traffic lights and you get a constant flow!) We had fun.
I am lucky enough to have a loving family, and while it was a bit tight with all six of us in the house(plus the dog – the chickens live in the garden), we coped well. Now that one son has left home, another has gone back to University then there’s a bit more space. The dog still can’t work out why they have been swallowed up by the computer screen but after barking at them for a bit, she settles down.

My Environment
I am lucky enough to have a study with a decent chair. I have recently invested in a standing desk, so try to spend at least 30 minutes a day stood up. It makes a difference, but I often forget, which means that it’s not ground in as much of a habit as it should be. Working on that.
I miss a constant temperature. I suffer from bad circulation, Reynauds Syndrome describes it well. If my hands of feed go through sharp changes of temperature. While offices can be cold or hot at times, they generally do a good job of providing a constant temperature, and best of all – it’s free.

Technical Training
I’ve been amazed at the generosity of technical training providers, from the big players like Pluralsight doing a free month to regular freebies from the likes of Brent Ozar and Erik Darling (especially seeing the generosity that he has extended to people that have lost their jobs through Covid).
I was all set to attend SQLBits in March, even lined up for something special at the Friday night party, and then it all came to a halt.
Well done to the SQLBits team though, after delaying the original event, they re-evaluated and provided a top class Virtual event at the beginning of October. I set up camp in the dining room, to give some separation from my regular workplace and learned a lot. It was hard work, but fun too – my team “Cirque de Sequel” got into the top 10 at one point on Thursday evening quiz.
A week or so later, I attended the equally great, if a bit smaller “Data Weekender” virtual conference. This was the second running of “Data Weekender”, the original event being right at the beginning of lockdown. I acted as a volunteer for “Data Weekender” and had the pleasure of introducing speakers and queueing questions.

The Future
My employers have fully embraced remote working. In fact, there isn’t going to be an office that I could go back to if I wanted to. That suits me just fine at the moment but who knows in the future.

Lockdown Rules
I have been disappointed with some people’s interpretations of the Covid lockdown rules.
I have been disappointed with the governments lack of appreciation for the Arts. Performers and performances have been let down badly with support during the Pandemic. Some of these people, I know and love and they are hurting. They are the ones that give us hope, provide an escape from our regular world.

That said, I am hopeful for the future. Hopeful that we will be able to see one another again.
Hopeful that someone will once again say that slightly unnerving sentence “I was watching a video with you in the other night”.
Hopeful that the world can breathe a sigh of relief and we can move on.

Until then, please stay safe and don’t forget to still have some fun.



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