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We’re all on a science fiction adventure now

Like many other people in Australia and around the world, I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. I’m in a relatively fortunate position compared to some; for a start I have work, and that work can be performed from home with limited impact on its efficacy. I get paid a salary from a large organisation largely willing and able to support staff in difficult circumstances; I don’t need to pay rent or a mortgage; and I don’t have any dependents to look after. I’m even an introvert unbothered by spending time plenty of time alone.

Still, I need to make some adjustments. For one, the SCA event that had been driving my goals for the month has been cancelled, and the course in Indonesian that I had been studying has been postponed. For another, the regime by which I did a significant part of my writing on the train to and from Sydney no longer makes sense. And, finally, I’ll be able to do very little walking and essentially no travel, which is particularly disappointing given that I’d been looking forward to a holiday at the end of the busiest time of year for my position at Western Sydney University.

I’ve heard a lot of casual comments about passing time by reading books, watching movies, and so on, and I’m sure that plenty of this will go on. I expect I’ll get through a lot more electronic books than usual both because I’m more inclined to read electronic books at home rather than on transport and because I’ll have less opportunity to get to the library. I also have a few television series I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

However, I suspect that even the people who made those comments understand that sitting on the couch will pale after a while. Of course, there will be work in the usual sense for those of us able to work from home, but even we will have some extra time that was formerly spent on travelling to work or to social outings. The challenge is to find some way of using our time in a way that satisfies us.

For me, the obvious answer is to write. Since beginning this blog, I’ve had a regime of writing on the train between Wollongong and Sutherland (and return), and in the evening on days on which I didn’t go to Sydney. I haven’t yet worked out a new regime but I’m imagining something like National Novel-Writing Month for as many months as it takes. I’ve recently started a new project and am working on the research for another, which, together with editing of the writing that I did last year, I hope will give me plenty of material to work with.

By coincidence, A Little Research’s first serious advertisement appeared this week in CIRCUIT, the newsletter of the New South Wales Section of the IEEE. If it’s effective, and IEEE readers aren’t too preoccupied with their own responses to the coronavirus outbreak, it’d be nice to think I could spend some time answering their questions. But otherwise I have a few research ideas of my own to follow up.

Aside from not wanting to spend all of my time on the couch, I also don’t want to send all of my money to internet companies. I’ll continue to buy from local shops as much as I can, and patronise individual authors, musicians and so on from elsewhere rather than contribute yet more money to the quasi-monopolies typically mentioned in comments about spending time on the couch.

Finally, lest I spend all of my time sitting behind a computer or a book, I need to find some exercise to replace the walking that I usually do. I don’t have a gym and don’t intend to build one as I’ve always found that sort of exercise dull and unmotivating, yet I ought to find some way of losing the extra couple of kilograms that I put on over Christmas but hasn’t disappeared over the subsequent months. I doubt that I’ll enjoy it as much as a walk outside—but at least I have a balcony from which I can enjoy something of the outdoors even while I’m locked up.


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