Tuesday, March 17, 2020


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading?
The Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathon Eig. The corona virus has put baseball on hold, and I miss it so! So I reached for this book, about one of the game's genuine heroes.

His is a great American story. The son of immigrants, physical strength was his way out of the slums. Painfully shy, he was at his most comfortable with physical activity. Even after achieving superstardom, he worried about disappointing the fans, the press and his bosses. He took nothing for granted.

He enjoyed touching relationships with the powerful women in his life. He unabashedly adored his mother and doted on her for all his life. He loved his bold, outgoing wife, Eleanor, who was by his side to the end. 

The author, Jonathan Eig, clearly respects Lou and loves baseball and it shows in the writing. "Gehrig found his joy ... in the reassuring feel of a leather ball with raised stitches squeezed in his left hand." (God, I miss baseball!)

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I was drawn to this novel about Princess Margaret, the royal rebel of her generation. 

This story takes us from Margaret's days as King George's pampered younger daughter, through sister Elizabeth's ascension to the throne, her heartbreaking love affair with Captain Peter Townsend, and her combustible relationship with sexy, swaggering Antony Armstrong-Jones. The Margaret we meet on these pages is exasperating, petulant, yearning and energetic. Just when you want to slug her, she says something that touches your heart. Just when you want to hug her, she throws a drink in someone's face.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Our narrator, the fictional Vera, has a great back story and as Margaret's lady-in-waiting, she has a front row seat to Her Highness' life. But Vera is a rather weak willed girl whose values seem a bit askew. I wish there'd been someone in the book who I wanted to unreservedly root for. I realize that, in real life, no one is all good or all bad. But since Vera is completely fictional character, the author could have made her a bit more likeable.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

Today was the Illinois primary

Joe Biden got 60% of the vote here, doing better against Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton did. I think a lot of it has to do with the virus.

•  College students are away from campus and that hurts Bernie's GOTV efforts.

•  Voters (like me) want someone with a steady hand and empathy at the wheel during a crisis. That's old Joe, not Bernie.

And certainly not the current occupant of the White House, who was downplaying this when he should have been acting on it. Example: on January 22, in Davos, Donald Trump told CNBC that this problem was “totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine." Really? Then why can't I sit in a booth at my coffee shop and enjoy a burger? Why can't I go into the office? Why can't I find Purell on any store shelves? Our economy doesn't look so solid now, does it, Mr. President? (Here's the full interview, lest you think I took it out of context.)

Greetings from self containment

Because of the coronavirus, I'm "working from home," but there is no work. Our client downstate is also "working from home," which means they are unlikely to get it together to give us any assignments. Working remotely is simply not their culture. They are a big face-to-face, let's-write-things-on-a-wipe-board kinda crew. Being in different locations will be hard for them.

Oh yeah, and they're ready to sever ties with us anyway.

So I sit at my adorable little gold MacBook Air and compulsively check my work email, because, well, they're paying me. But today I got literally three messages, and all of them were about administrative tasks. No assignments.

So I freaked out.

•  What will happen to my hair if Governor Pritzker follows the lead of Pennsylvania's governor and shuts down salons? I called my stylist and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon at 4:00.

•  What about my cats? They're on a special diet! What if veterinary offices are deemed "not essential?" I played hooky, went to the vet and stocked up. I have now more than a month of their prescription food. The vet tech promised me that I need not worry. She said, "You know me, Gal. I'll look out for your babies." She said, if need be and they're forced to close, we'll meet in the alley and if I pay cash she'll give me the food. I believe her.

•  I stopped at the little local grocery store across from the vet. They had toilet paper! I only bought one roll. I left the four-packs for families. I think I have more than a month's worth on hand. I also bought some chicken salad for dinner. This is a small store, independently owned, and I want to support them. I also hate to cook.

•  I picked up my belt at the local old-school shoe repair. Tony, the 70-something Italian immigrant who owns/runs it, thinks this "whole virus business is crazy." He's been down there in his basement shop for decades, all by himself. I hope he's being careful. He doesn't seem like the hand sanitizer type.

•  This all took an hour. No emails from the office. So I did laundry.

At 4:30, I ate my chicken salad dinner. At 6:30, I took a nap.

I am not happy. I am not relaxed. I am worried.

I have to settle into this.

This is going to go on for quite a while. I think the two weeks of working from home declared by our corporate headquarters may have been optimistic.

I think, when I settle into it, I may enjoy this. I have books to read. I have movies to watch. I have cats to cuddle. My freezer and pantry are stocked. My paycheck is promised on 3/30.

My temperature is 98.3ยบ.

Chill, Gal, chill!

This is all just too weird

When I left the office Friday, we were told to take our laptops home, "just in case ..." but to expect to be in the office for a 4 day/week this week. Different teams were going to stay home different days. I was assigned to wfh on Friday.

Then on Sunday night, we got an email from our COO. We're working from home for two weeks. All of us. Every day. Until March 30.

And then my computer crapped out. I had trouble with connectivity and the battery wouldn't charge.

I sent a hasty email to the director of our department, explaining to her that my company laptop wasn't going to last me two weeks. (I wasn't even confident it would last me through composing that email!) I told her if the IT department was working, I was happy to bring it in. But otherwise, I could work off my brand new personal computer. Only I wouldn't have the sanctioned email software -- and we have been slapped silly on numerous occasions for jeopardizing client confidentiality using the wrong email account (shades of Hillary Clinton).

I had a chiropractor appointment in the Loop anyway. I was confident that seeing him would be OK. They disinfect everything before/after each patient as part of their protocol. So I packed up two computers -- the company's and my own --  and headed downtown.

On the el.

If I catch the coronavirus, this is where I will have been exposed. The car was empty by daily commute standards. I counted 18 passengers. Clearly, we weren't 6 feet apart.

Oh yeah, and a guy coughed and spit on the floor. He had a smoker's cough, so I don't think he was contagious. But he was disgusting. I was very upset when I got off the el.

The doctor's appointment went fine, and I walked to the office. The city streets were lightly populated, but then the rain had turned to snow. People would have been moving fast to get in out of the weather anyway.

I got to the office and went straight to IT. Yes, they were working, though with a skeleton crew. They deemed my company laptop in dire condition. It needs to be cracked open and according to the warranty, only Apple can do that. There wasn't anyone available to authorize sending it off, or to give me a loaner. So I asked them to load what they could onto my personal laptop. Thank God I brought it with me!

When we were done, I saw that the director of our department finally answered my email. She emphatically said, twice, that what I chose to do was my decision. Go into the office, or don't. Completely up to me. It's okay to use my own software, my own computer. I don't have to worry about doing timesheets.

I don't have to worry about doing timesheets?

It became obvious to me that she, as an officer of the company, was not going to put in writing that I needed to step foot in the office while it was closed for the virus.

Folks, corporate America is scared shitless right now.  

At that moment, so was I. I wouldn't get back on the el. I took a taxi to the commuter train. It's more expensive, but it's cleaner and right now, cleaner means safer.

Tuesday 4

Odds and Ends

1. Ever been to a Drive In Theater? Would you like to see Drive In Theaters make a come back?  One of my happiest childhood memories was going to see HELP! at a drive in. I was 7. My dad switched cars with a coworker, getting a station wagon, so my classmate and I could have lots of room to bounce around and scream and cry and sing along. It was an unusually thoughtful thing for my dad to do. I appreciate it more with time.

I don't drive, so I wouldn't take advantage of a drive in. But I'm all for people seeing films on the big screen, so if there's an appetite for drive ins, I hope they come back.

2.  Should towns provide community entertainment like bands in the park, fireworks on the 4th, community picnics or is the cost just too much? Yes. I'm all for things that foster a sense of connection and community.

3.  What would you change about your town if you had the power? I'd like the school district to pay closer attention to the high school's infrastructure. Every ballot seems to have a referendum for a remodeled pool or bigger stadium. But the cafeteria and bathrooms are a mess! I'd be more likely to vote "yes" if the money was going to the building itself.

4. My  little high school offered 3 courses of education:  Business, University track and General education where you could also major in shop , carpentry, home economics and metal working, etc. Would you like to see schools bring back business courses, shop classes and home economics? I think that's a great idea.