oh god oh god oh god

Classes start tomorrow. I’m looking at my pile of notes and lecture material and plans and thinking, “I’ve got this,” like I do every year, but now I have to do everything over Zoom, which is a real monkey wrench in the proceedings, and I’ve got the specter of disease and death hovering overhead, and who knows, maybe a political coup coming up midsemester, with forces in government working to destroy my profession, and I have to sit through a great long division meeting this morning where we’ll all pretend everything is normal and hear administrators go “wah wah, wa-wa wah wah” because I won’t be able to parse what they’re saying, and I’m going to be trying to finish up my syllabus with Zoom acting as little more than a distraction interfering with getting my actual WORK done, and cops are killing people and other people are gasping out their life on respirators while I’m merely suffering acute anxiety as the world burns, but hey, the flames will get to me soon enough to bring sweet oblivion and no one will care because there are more important things than a story about an old guy’s heart exploding and brain liquifying in an isolated office in the middle of midwestern farmland, so now I’m wondering if my headphones will stopper up my ears enough to prevent the brain goo from dribbling out and making a mess on the carpet.

That’s my workday ahead. How’s yours?


  1. Pierre Le Fou says

    Just made a pot of coffee, then will start reviewing a junior developer’s Pull Request (that means their submission for code to be integrated into our software project). My cat is just lying smack in the middle of the floor, smiling.

  2. jackal says

    Glad to see I’m not the only one finding it difficult to concentrate on work while the world is literally and figuratively on fire.

  3. cartomancer says

    In an hour of darkness the blind man is the best guide.

    In an age of insanity, look to the madman to light the way.

  4. Czech American says

    Same + Family Issues

    It is definitely harder than ever to find meaning in my office job.

  5. raven says

    That’s my workday ahead. How’s yours?

    It will be the usual since March.
    Get up in the morning.
    Check the weather report and news.
    Check the Covid-19 virus cases and see how many have died from the pandemic in the local area.

    Then play the most common game in the USA right now.
    Coffin Dodging.
    The winning prize is you get to play another day,
    The losing prize is explained in the name.

    When I was a kid growing up in the 1950’s, the future was going to be nuclear power, flying cars, and jet packs.
    Here it is the future, and instead, we are in the middle of a pandemic from a disease that didn’t even exist last year, and living in the last and failing superpower run by an incompetent, strange fascist billionaire.
    The future is overrated.

  6. brucej says

    “I have to sit through a great long division meeting this morning ”

    That’s nuthin’ wait until the logarithms meeting….

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    That’s my workday ahead. How’s yours?

    As is with each of my workdays:

    I drag myself out of bed go straight to my computer. After going through the laborious process of logging onto my machine and starting the half-dozen of separate programs I need to have running (or which I may only use once or twice a day, if at all) I hop onto the call cue. I’m immediately assaulted with a conga-line of calls, each prefaced by a soul-less computer generated voice giving me the account information. (I hate that voice.) Then I get to talk to some moron–usually from the Deep South–who can barely remember their own names, much less what they spend their money on day-to-day. Then, when we finally do determine that someone has got ahold of their credit or debit card info, I usually have to explain three of four times how they dispute their fraudulent charges and get a new card because high school was hard for these clods. Then I get about 5 seconds to finalize any of my work before the next call comes in. Lather. Rinse, Repeat. Meanwhile, ever word I say, memo I make, and second I spend away from my phone to take a shit or to just get away from the dregs of American humanity, is scrutinized and studied by my superiors, looking for any excuse to fire me.

    Yeah, I’m having a fucking ball.

  8. vereverum says

    Calm down PZ. Remember back to your grade school days, say about 1950. Second grade: some o your friends aren’t there this year. Third grade: again some o your friends are missing but now you know why. They died over the summer. Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, inter alia. One o your friends is there though but now she wears braces on her legs and hobbles around on crutches. She’s not in the fourth grade. Then came vaccines and things changed. The difference twixt then and now is that then everyone was face to face with it everywhere everyday. Not on a blog, not on TV news, not on the internet; everyone everywhere everyday in person. Until we again have that level of intensity don’t expect any serious action.

  9. Akira MacKenzie says

    vereverum @ 9

    <blockquoteThen came vaccines and things changed.

    Well, if the polls on vaccine acceptance are anything to go by, it looks like things are changing back.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sorry for the HTML fail. Trying to divide my attention between commenting and my dumb job.

  11. unclefrogy says

    you could sneak in a calculator or use a math function on the mobile phone to get through that long division meeting, easier to hide then a slide rule
    this pandemic is making worse this nagging thought that has been rumbling around in my mind for some time. It is the thought that no matter what I am doing I should be doing something else. So now that I am not working for clients because I am “elderly” as well as most of my clients. I have to do my stuff, so what do I do first or do at all? all decided after I get appalled depressed and enraged at the latest news. fire season has started already as well as hurricane season.
    uncle frogy

  12. wzrd1 says

    Work… Work… Work…
    Oh, now I remember what that is! Been holding off due to some pan-pan thing, a mayday thing and jobs that I previously looked at now paying $11k less now, with even more work added, so I’ll hold off and watch my savings dwindle, as the pandemic unemployment compensation owes me 12 checks now and my last response 6 weeks ago was “your previous problem was marked resolved”, with no mention of the half dozen payments that were authorized never fucking arriving.
    Meanwhile, a buddy needs $500, I have to pay my biweekly $560 rent and now that I’ve got a fridge, I need to put something more than milk into it, but after moving that in and tossing an old mattress, foundation and rail out, I’m not quite up to the two mile walk.

    But, last night I did see a video about a fellow who has an impressive terrarium set up for assorted ants and some spiders in another, where the ants were afflicted by parasitic mites. He resolved that by finding predatory mites on rhino beetles, which successfully cleared the mite infestation on the colony portion that he quarantined. He then tried using a cane toad to gobble up the straggler ants that were still parasitized, to not avail and he then went with painted frogs, a misadventure in incorrect sealant/adhesive selection and water leak, correcting that mess and a much better planned wetland zone inside of the terrarium. Overall, impressive, as he has to introduce a minimal amount of food for what’s otherwise a rather well balanced ecosystem. If he could’ve doubled it at the normal population level, he could have a self-sustaining prey portion of the ecosystem and likely could actually seal the system.
    But, alas, he still has to have room to live within his home… ;)

  13. says

    That’s my workday ahead. How’s yours?

    Same, except it’s all in person teaching. Holidays in my State ended yesterday, first class in quarantine today…

  14. enki23 says

    I teach intro microbiology at a California community college, and we started yesterday, all remote, in a fairly under-served area. My students need all the help they can get, so I’m recording my lectures etc. instead of zooming them, so they can at least get the one benefit being online has, allowing them to access on their own time. Simulating a microbiology lab, though, is…. well, it’s not great. But we did it this summer, and they took the same practical exams (with pictures) and they did almost as good as they usually do in person. They’re learning from pictures and videos and being evaluated using pictures. I guess that makes sense they would do okay. It’s just, all kind of out of context. These are our future nurses, mostly, rather than lab techs or researchers, so I hope it does enough of what they need.

  15. nomdeplume says

    Well, OK PZ, but what about the rest of the day?!

    On a serious note – there is nothing “mere” about suffering from anxiety (as distinct from feeling temporarily anxious about a day’s events). It is a serious and debilitating mental condition. If you do think you are developing anxiety (and it is certainly a possibility given what you describe), seek professional advice.

  16. JustaTech says

    One of my two closest coworkers was just laid off (no warning) and now I have to figure out how to do her job on top of mine, and praise to all spiders at least she was super, hyper organized or I would be even farther up this creek than I could have been.

    All because business people with no understanding of science think that you don’t need more than one person to do experiments. My department of 3 used to be a department of ~13.

    And I know I have it easy, because I can mostly work from home, and when I do go in everyone is good about masks and space and I can just pick up my groceries without going inside the store and I’m about to be overrun with tomatoes but honestly right now I’m very sad.

    And I’m scared for all my friends and family who are students and teachers.

  17. lucifersbike says

    @Akira. You have my deepest sympathy. I used to tele-interpret for an outfit whose clients included a well-known money transfer company. A very badly run company, IMHO, which outsourced support to the cheapest possible call centers in countries where English is not properly taught. Worse still was that many of the clients didn’t really understand sending money by wire; and some of them were unable to speak the language I was supposed to be interpreting. Having to deal with one dunce is bad, two made me feel homicidal. Then I’d feel guilty – I was being paid a lot more than the call center agents, and I was at home in my country, not a migrant trying to send money home to support their family.

  18. wzrd1 says

    @garydargan, he’d also have to avoid all news, given a sorority is quarantined with positive COVID-19 cases, multiple college campuses are closing again (Notre Dame is closing briefly, then going to try the same thing again, hoping for a different result, is that replication or just insanity?) and more.
    And just Tuesday morning, I ran into an oddball take that herd immunity “is close”, depending upon if 10 – 20% have been exposed or 70% were, ignoring well, reality.
    Reality being, US nearing 5.5 million cases, 171,808 dead and climbing by over 1000 per day for far, far, far too long. Half-assed measures have failed – utterly predictably. But, are proclaimed a success by the imPOTUS, god-king, emperor proclamations to the contrary being a treason or something.
    But hey, the emperor also decried climate change, so Death Valley hitting 130, becoming the hottest place on the planet, isn’t relevant. After all, CO2 is what made Venus the heavenly vacation spot that it is today!

    In other news, Trump decried Michelle Obama’s speech, in ways suggesting that she was a lightweight out of her class. Something interesting, given that Melania took three Michelle Obama speeches verbatim for her very own.
    Which suggests that this maladministration is punching out of its weight class, which explains why it incessantly punches down.

  19. chrislawson says


    I don’t recall at any time in the 1950s a President who aggressively promoted misinformation about polio and actively interfered with attempts to prevent it.

  20. Rich Woods says

    That’s my workday ahead. How’s yours?

    Today is the first day of my retirement. If the weather holds up I might go for a walk.

  21. ajbjasus says

    Oh who, oh who, oh who ?

    Hammy will be on you with his “you know in your heart” spiel.

  22. Rich Woods says

    @Giliell #34:

    I tried that technique with several large numbers and divisors picked at random to try to understand the process better. Nope, I’ll stick to the method I was taught in 1970. Maybe it’s just the weight of practice, but…

  23. wzrd1 says

    I have been actively considering taking a loss and going out on disability.
    Let’s see, significant hearing loss, abdominal aortic aneurysm, herniated disk with neurological involvement. For starters, add in Raynauld’s and that adds rheumatoid issues.
    Seriously, it’s seriously messed up when I consider calling it quits. We were selected for a sheer inability to quit, when every rational thought would drive one to quit.