COVID19 and New Life

It’s gotten pretty quiet over here on my blog. Sorry about that. I’ve been doing a ton of writing and speaking, just not here. I recently started up a Medium blog.

My first post on Medium is on COVID-19 myths and has a ton of links to reliable data sources to help dispel them. I’ve been writing some on the Vertica blog, doing a few projects for O’Reilly, and I’ve been writing my usual web content and technical architecture papers. But the main thing I’ve spent my time on in the last couple of years is public speaking. I was set to travel 5 weeks out of the last six to speak at conferences. That didn’t exactly happen.

Like the rest of the world, this pandemic has made some major changes in my life. I am extremely fortunate in that I’ve been working from home for several years, when I’m not travelling. And I’m in an industry that has not been hard hit. Also, I live way out in the Texas countryside, in an area where cows outnumber the people by a significant margin. There’s only been 5 confirmed cases in my entire county. I’ve been unbelievably lucky so far. But even as I count my blessings, I see friends on social media and people I work with struggling with this disease, struggling with losing family, struggling with the unaccostomed isolation and economic hardship. And I worry constantly for my family, especially my elderly mother and my husband’s parents, and my husband, himself, who just had a heart attack a few months ago. He’s trying to take care of all of us, while taking the dangerous risks himself. My children’s jobs have both been hit, and I have one grandbaby less than two years old, and a daughter with a high risk pregnancy in one of the harder hit areas of the country.

No one is escaping this thing unscathed.

The world is going to change. I have hope that it will change for the better. Many are seeing for the first time the true value of the ordinary worker, like grocery store shelf stockers and cashiers and pizza delivery people. Overnight, they’ve gone from people who don’t deserve a livable wage to essential workers. Our healthcare system, that we’ve long griped about, is suddenly showing it’s terrible problems in the count of lives lost, even while healthcare workers run themselves into the ground trying to keep that number as low as possible. Watching the news has become even more heart rending than before.

The people in my industry are really stepping up to do what we can to help. All those links in my COVID-19 Myths post are free. No one is analyzing data and providing that information for profit. Mostly, I think it’s a data analyst’s way of trying to make sense of it all. And it’s the best way to stay ground in what’s real, not be fooled by either sensationalism or minimalizing.

In the midst of the madness, a little ray of sunshine happened for me when one of my mother-in-law’s horses had a foal. The new little one is a couple weeks old now, adorable, friendly, and curious about everything. Spring is still happening, with all the wildflowers and pollen sneezing, butterflies and horseflies, hummingbirds and cowbirds. The world goes on, even as we humans pause our lives. This little one has been a good reminder of that.

It’s a scary world, Mom. Oh, what’s that?

For me, aside from the constant fear, and the feeling that going to the grocery store is a trip behind enemy lines, the change has been mainly one of real travel to virtual travel. I’ve seen more of my work teammates, ironically. More people are using their webcams for a chance to see a friendly face. My social get-togethers are with Discord, my work meetings with Teams.

Big conferences have gone virtual. My company did the Vertica Big Data Conference, where I hosted a bunch of engineer-led sessions, and I spoke recently at ODSC East on combining Python with a distributed database. I’m still doing a lot of public speaking, but now I’m doing it with a podcasting headset sitting at my desk.

A lot of the giant data conferences, instead of cancelling or going virtual, have postponed to the fall. If this pandemic lets up, then I’ll be back to hopping all over the world on a plane come late August. We’ll see. Being inclined to pay attention to history, I worry that there will be a second, even worse, wave hitting about the time I’m ready to board a plane again.

Only time will tell.

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