Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Wellbeing

Strive for a bronze medal in parenting when you work from home

Even though we parents are increasingly working from home during the current crisis (and even if you work from home anyway, like me), we still feel the pressure to be stellar parents to our kids.

That pressure is intense, especially when our kids are trying to adjust to a new distance learning model, and all the craziness that goes with that.

One of my colleagues shared a wonderful article titled “Advice: How to Work From Home With Your Kids” that’s worth reading, and taking to heart:

Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents learned long ago — it’s not about winning; it’s about striving for the bronze. This is a perfect time to finally recognize how much you’ve been trained to perform parenting. To design a cozy little reading nook so your Instagram followers can see it and grudgingly approve. To bake your vegan muffins (and take a photo) or pack your kids’ bento boxes (and take a photo) or set out art supplies in a scattered but not too scattered way, if you catch my drift (and then definitely take a photo). To head into the woods and make flower crowns or whatever the fuck it is you’ve been doing out there. Give. It. All. Up. It’s time to take this parade float and strip it down to four wheels, a floor, and a functioning steering wheel. It’s time to be basic.

Kimberly Harrington

Perfection is utterly unrealistic. Most of the time, we’re trying not to take drastic measures just so we can continue working, and earning an income while so many are losing theirs.

I certainly find the new distance learning situation challenging. I don’t want our kids to lose months of progress because we’re increasingly confined to our homes.

At the same time, I don’t have the time I’d like to have to sit with them, and guide them through their lessons (or other learning materials). For me, it’s work as usual, and I have my days planned out between customer support shifts, and virtual meetings with my colleagues.

I certainly don’t have the time to cook nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mostly just want to check that our kids have eaten something decent every meal during the day (and my wife has been cooking some amazing dinners in the evenings). You won’t see any Instagram gems from me there.

So, if you’re working from home, and trying to grab moments of sanity, while feeling guilty that you’re not winning any prizes as a parent, you’re not the only one. Let’s just strive for that bronze medal, maybe.

unsplash-logoArren Mills
Categories
Education Mindsets

If the coronavirus doesn’t kill us, distance learning just might

The speed at which many schools have closed, and kids and educators have had to switch to distance learning platforms have caused quite a bit of frustration, especially for parents overwhelmed with the sudden influx of messages.

Here’s a funny (and true) rant from an Israeli mother who found herself overwhelmed by the flood of messages on WhatsApp, and expectations from teachers that she (and we) be able to fill the gap left by in-person learning.

The Internet can be a tremendous distance learning platform. It just takes some planning to deliver a more rational, and accessible distance learning system.

On a related note, my wife and I are compiling distance learning resources over at our Stuff to Teach Your Kids site. So head over there to see what’s available to your kids:

Categories
Education Wellbeing

Why soap is the nemesis of the coronavirus

You already know that we should wash our hands (frequently) for at least 20 seconds, but do you know why soap is so effective against the coronavirus? Here’s a great explanation from Vox:

On a related note, it’s also worth watching this video:

A quote from the video that stands out for me is this one:

To slow the virus down, you need to act as if you already have it …

Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Giorgio Trovato
Categories
Applications

Brave browser seems to protect our privacy the most

Brave browser logo

I’ve been curious about the Brave browser for a little while now, and I’ve switched to Brave for any Chromium-based browser stuff I do (testing, browsing on sites that don’t support Firefox, and so on).

I found this Ars Technica post interesting. They summarise a study into browsers and privacy, and found that Brave probably protects our privacy the most:

Specifically, the study examined the browsers’ sending of data—including unique identifiers and details related to typed URLs—that could be used to track users over time. The findings put the browsers into three categories with Brave getting the highest ranking, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari receiving a medium ranking, and Edge and Yandex lagging behind the rest.

Study ranks the privacy of major browsers. Here are the findings | Ars Technica

I still default to Firefox (specifically Firefox Developer Edition). At the same time, I’m happy to keep exploring the Brave alternative.

Categories
Events and Life Sports Wellbeing

COVID-19 Lockdowns and Exercise

Update (2020-03-19): It seems that I read our Health Ministry’s restrictions a little too restrictively. For the time being, it seems to be possible to get out for a run, even if it should probably be closer to home to limit the risk of exposure to other people.

As with many other countries, Israel is slowly locking down cities in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although this seems to be a good strategy to slow the growing pandemic, it’s also unfortunately disrupting exercise routines, too.

I’ve been running again for a few months now, and I feel like I’m growing stronger as a runner. I ran about five and a half kilometers this morning as part of my Garmin coaching program, and I was looking forward to two more runs later this week (including a roughly eight kilometer run).

Today our Health Ministry forbade any non-essential excursions out of home, and only allows 10 minutes of outdoors exercise a day allows limited outdoors exercise time (no more than five two people, and you need to remain two meters away from each other). 😭

Exercise around a lockdown

Still, I want to make the most of the time I have available, so I’ve started mapping out roughly two kilometer routes that I can run in around 10 minutes nearby routes.

Instead of running longer distances three or four times a week, I’m going to aim to run for 10 minutes a day, and just treat these runs as speed training exercises (or something like that).

It’s certainly better than nothing, and I can’t just stop after all the effort I’ve been putting in the last few months. If I can increase my pace, I should be able to run around 12 to 14 kilometers a week.

Pausing my Garmin coaching program

I found out that I can also pause my Garmin coaching program that I’ve been following. To do that, you –

  • open Garmin Connect,
  • open the Garmin Coach panel,
  • tap on the three dots in the top right corner, and
  • tap on Pause.

Source: Garmin Coach FAQ – My Runner’s Life

It’s a little ironic that this coronavirus is undermining our efforts to remain healthy, and become fitter. At the same time, runners can become infected too, so we adapt, and do our part to help stem the spread of this virus.

Other opportunities to remain fit

In the meantime, I also want to take the opportunity to work on my core strength. I don’t use a gym (and couldn’t go now, even if I did), so I’ve been collecting videos with exercise options that I can probably do at home:

Do you do any core strength exercises at home that you can share? Let me know in the comments below?

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Jenny Hill
Categories
Business and work Events and Life Mindsets Useful stuff

Tips for remote work newbies

One of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is that more people find themselves needing to work remotely after having worked in a more conventional office environment for most of their careers.

Shifting to remote work can be a little disconcerting. Fortunately there are substantial resources to help you work productively, remotely.

Automattic is a totally distributed company, and we have some expertise in how to make this work. As a starting point, take a look at these posts from members of our team:

Of course, we’re not the only ones who know how to make remote work work. Here are more resources:

If you find yourself totally confused about the fundamentals, this may help (or amuse you, which also helps): I Work from Home | The New Yorker.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Austin Distel
Categories
Events and Life Mindsets Politics and government Science and nature Wellbeing

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

We live in challenging times. Here in Israel we have the dual challenges of this new coronavirus, and having just had our third elections in the hope that our leaders will grow up, place Israel first, and form a sustainable government.

Larger forces, and uncomfortable spaces

The recent elections had been coming, so we knew more or less what to expect. This new coronavirus really shook 2020 up for us. Between these two events (at least here, for me), there’s a lot of uncertainty, and a sense of larger forces at play.

This is not a comfortable space for me to be in at all. I have very little control over either situation, only my responses to them. Even then, my responses are limited. So, like I said, not a comfortable space to be in.

Both events have a sense of inevitability to them.

Either our leadership will form a government (at the very least an emergency government to deal with the current situation), or they won’t (and we’ll head to a fourth set of elections).

As for the coronavirus, and the spread of COVID-19, well hopefully we’ll see a vaccine developed, and the virus’ spread start to slow sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we wash our hands, cough into our sleeves, and limit our exposure to people who could be affected, or infected.

Toilet paper shortages, and panic in homes

With all of this going on, it’s hard not to be concerned, even scared. When terrorists fire rockets into Israel, we can see the projectiles, and where they’re going. We have defense systems that can literally blow them out of the sky.

A virus is invisible to us, and unless a person is symptomatic, we can’t see our “enemy”. This unseen enemy, coupled with the coronavirus’ spread being categorised as a pandemic, is leading to panic.

We see this in empty toilet paper shelves as families fear they’ll be forced into two weeks of quarantine. Supermarkets are limiting access to 100 people at a time due to a prohibition on more than 100 people in a closed space, some are even doing temperature checks before allowing people in.

On the one hand, this is no longer “business as usual”. On the other, panic is hardly helpful.

Now and then I hear or see messages that our kids friends exchange in their WhatsApp groups. They’re telling each other that simply going outside will make them sick, as if COVID-19 is hiding in the bushes, ready to pounce.

Closeup photo of a toy monster with a gun
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

When our education minister mistakenly said that kids in my daughter’s grade would still need to go to school (school is closed for kids in her grade and older), she burst into tears because she didn’t want to “get corona” by going to school.

This is despite our kids understanding that the virus is transmitted from person to person, and what precautions to take. They also understand that even if they become infected, it should be pretty mild for them.

Parents are also panicking (understandably).

Perspective, and sanity

Despite this being an unprecedented event in our lifetimes, I’m working to maintain a healthier perspective on the pandemic with our kids.

I remind our kids that as viruses go, this one isn’t deadly to all who contract it. I also remind them to wash their hands, cough or sneeze into their sleeves (or a tissue), and to be mindful of how close they are to people.

I also tell them that it’s ok to be scared. This pandemic is almost unprecedented in our lifetimes (we weren’t particularly affected by SARS or MERS in South Africa). At the same time, we understand how to reduce the likelihood of being infected.

Still, it’s scary when you see so much discussion about the coronavirus everywhere you look. The Media’s coverage often leaves you with the impression that the Zombie Apocalypse has finally arrived with virtually every image being somber looking people dressed in environmental protection suits.

Taking a step back, or several outdoors

I went for a walk the other day to pick up some items for home. It was a warm evening, and I was thinking about Israeli politics, and the pandemic. I caught myself, and decided to rather just walk mindfully in the warm evening, appreciating being in that space.

It worked, and I felt better. It didn’t fix these challenges we face, but it reminded me that sometimes all we can do is change our response to situations like these. That and these challenges will pass in time. Change happens.

Categories
Events and Life Science and nature Wellbeing

Possible oral vaccine for COVID-19 in months

An Israeli research team has developed an oral vaccine for COVID-19 that seems to be heading for testing, and could be distributed in a matter of months.

According to The Times of Israel:

Chen Katz told The Times of Israel that the new oral vaccine for adults and children could “turn this disease into a very mild cold.” He said that for many people who are inoculated and then infected by COVID-19, “potentially it will not affect them at all.”

The rapid potential progress by the state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute stems from the fact that the institute has been working for four years toward a vaccine that could be customized for various viruses, and has now adapted that work to focus on the coronavirus, he said.

Israeli-made oral vaccine for coronavirus on track, but testing will take months | The Times of Israel

What’s particularly exciting about this development is that the research team was able to adapt research they had been doing into a vaccine for a related virus for four years, into a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

[Dr Chen] Katz clarified that the 90-day time frame in the February 27 statement was until the product is ready for human testing, and said he still believes this is realistic. He said that skeptics should understand that his team is not working on new research, but rather customizing an existing innovation, meaning that a fast turnaround is realistic. He stated: “The important thing is that we were working on a vaccine, unrelated to this outbreak, and this is a great advantage.”


Update (2020-03-12): According to The Times of Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has announced that the vaccine isn’t quite as advanced as it seemed yesterday:

“There has been no breakthrough in the efforts of the Institute for Biological Research to find a vaccine for the coronavirus or to develop a testing kit. The institute’s activities are being carried out on an orderly schedule and they will take time,” said the ministry.

Defense Ministry denies ‘breakthrough’ on vaccine for COVID-19 | The Times of Israel

Still, I’m encouraged, and optimistic. 😊