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    • I’ve kinda known it was coming for the past three weeks. By kinda, I mean that work for the projects I oversee has been slowly running out. There was talk of things picking back up in the beginning of May, but in the past week or so things quickly moved in the opposite direction. Projects were delayed, suspended or canceled on a daily basis and the question became how much work would come back and when.

      I found out the answer on Friday. By mid of next week I’ll be on furlough. I have a couple projects that I’m winding down and then, other than a daily check in of email for new updates, I will have a lot of free time on my hands.

      As much as I complain about being in a dead-end job for several years now, I’m fortunate in that I work for a very good company that takes care of its employees. I won’t go into the financial details, but I’ll be okay for at least the next couple months if the furlough lasts that long.

      So what do I plan to do with the time off?

      I’ve been thinking a lot about that question. It’s not like we can jet to someplace interesting for a vacation: besides the stupidity of spending money that may be needed in the future, there’s literally nowhere to go.

      I think getting more sleep is a first priority. For those who’ve been reading my personal diary on discovering I’m fat and my attempts to right the ship, you know that insomnia has been an unwanted friend that’s been making numerous appearances since the pandemic began to dominate the news. And when I’m sleep-deprived I tend to eat a lot more. It’s a vicious cycle, which is why today is going to be a write-off since it’s four am as I write this.

      Beyond sleep and continuing to lose weight, I don’t have huge goals yet for the time off. There’s a huge demand for data scientists in my region of the US. It’s concentrated in one industry and any position would require a strong science background in addition to programming. So I certainly will have the time to focus on learning those skills and expanding my knowledge base.

      Am I scared of being furloughed? Not really. If I had stayed in sales I would be scared beyond belief. As much as I’ve talked, in the coronavirus discussion, about my anger towards the people who are protesting to go back to work, I completely get the fears of not knowing when you’ll be back to work and worrying how long your savings will last: I once spent a year without salary to try to be a writer, and living on a financial tightrope, even when it’s by choice, is stressful.

      But my current situation is such that I know I’ll be getting a call back to work as soon as one of the projects resumes. My dad grew up in The Great Depression and his generation learned to play it safe, find a good job with a big company and stay there for thirty or forty years. He almost lost it all in the 1990s when those “guaranteed for life jobs” started disappearing due to massive layoffs. I think he would’ve stroked if he had been alive when I chucked a good paying job with a big company to live as a struggling artist for a year. And now I’m in the situation where I’m grateful to have a more secure job.

      As I wrote that last paragraph, I keep feeling that the fates are waiting to smite me for saying that I’m safe: “You think your job will be unfurloughed? Hah, we’ll bankrupt the company.” But that’s like my grandma saying when someone died, “It always comes in threes.” It could take two years for a third person she knew to pass away, but she’d still swear that proves her claim.

    • Take care there, look after yourself, nothing is ever guaranteed in life, as much as we plan and hope things always take their own cause. Ride it out and you’ll be stronger for it. Always easy to say from the other side. Thinking of you all over there in the USA. Things this side seem to be starting to get under control, the occasional run-away cluster but on a whole things are looking promising here. Several states here today recorded no new cases for the first time since it kicked off here. The current death rate is still in double digits (total) and country wide today there are only 170 people hospitalised with it. So talk here has gone from dreaming of containment to series talk of elimination. Hopefully things start to improve over there for you there, take care. Keep safe and keep the mind healthy.

    • Reflections from a furloughed educator, Sherri Spelic.

      What I thought might be possible while enacting "stay-at-home" orders:

      1. I will read a lot -> I have made my way very slowly through 2 books. That's it.
      2. So much writing! -> I can barely tweet coherently let alone put more that a couple of paragraphs together.
      3. We'll cook & eat healthier -> my child's diet: grilled cheese, froot loops, sloppy joes. *sigh*
      4. Our relationships will ... -> We are all still talking to each other. (big win)
      5. My lessons will be so engaging -> 5 minutes is not a lesson. 🙄
      6. I can learn something new! -> I, ... I just can't right now.
      7. I can work out tons! -> I'm going for a slow walk. Alone!
      8. There are so many resources to draw from -> Make it stop!
      9. I can dress however I want -> I teach in sweats, it's my dress code (Phys Ed).
      10. I can take naps! -> I am a tangle of nervous, aimless energy most days, I'm glad if I can sleep at night.

      Dialing back expectations has been necessary & tough. If you, like me, are feeling less than marvelous, there are many reasons. Let's be kind to ourselves & each other.

      Sherri Spelic

    • I am sure the "You Are Not Alone" clichés have been rolling out!

      What would I suggest? Nothing particularly spellbinding.

      If it were me, I would divide the day up and have the morning as my reading time. I love to read, but so rarely get a chance these days to actually dedicate time to this alone.

      I would possibly look at the skills I didn't have (but wished I did) and spend the afternoon learning some of those. For me that would include learning how to use spreadsheets and other PC tools like a Jedi Master (as opposed to the Jar Jar Binks I more often resemble).

      In the evening, I would cook for the family - even if they begged me not to.

      A little light exercise and a herbal infusion before bed.

      Most importantly, though, the days would have to have a structure or routine. I couldn't get up every day and think "what now"? That way lies daytime TV and empty Doritos packets on the floor.

      Morning = reading

      Afternoon = planned studying

      Evening = cooking, walking, TV

      When I look at it like this, it all seems rather enticing. But I know I am kidding myself, drawing castles in the sky. In truth, I would probably waste too much time in undirected and fruitless pursuits, and forget my own name after a fortnight.

      I am sure you will navigate the Furloughed Furlongs better than I would.....

    • Stephen

      I am sorry to read about your coming furlough.

      Working for and retiring from a major airline I am well acquainted with furloughs. Fortunately, my seniority number never came close to being called; I was never furloughed during my career.

      A very good friend (like a little brother) took a voluntary furlough from our airline in 2003 during the post 9/11 economic decline. He put all his eggs in the proverbial one basket and applied to FedEx. Fortunately, he was hired and has had a very nice career flying and based in Asia.

      He received numerous recalls from our airline and declined until he no longer decline; no one remaining on the furlough list junior to him. He wanted to retire from our airline so he could receive travel benefits, no monetary retiree payout. Unfortunately, one can't be recalled by one airline while working for another. He asked for and FedEx graciously granted him an 8 hour furlough so he could return to our airline and retire (with travel benefits).

      So sometimes there can be a silver lining and a bit of luck in a furlough. I hope that is in the cards for you.

      I also hope you can take the time for yourself and get on a healthier path, if that is what you think you need.

      Having had 2 sleep disorders during my flying career due to flying on the back side of the clock, I know how miserable one can become without restorative, quality sleep.

      I wish you the best getting on the healthy road because I strongly believe without such a lifestyle, all else will suffer or begin to suffer at some point.

      Wishing you well and all the best!


    • Many public library's offer OverDrive which supplies audio books.

      Also if you want to hear public domain books, provides audio recordings primarily by amateurs.