Thoughts from the quarantine, Part II

February 8th, 2021

It's been awhile since my last post (if we're counting, it's been 277 days or about ~9 months).

As we near the year mark of this global pandemic, I've found myself turning inward a lot more and wanting to write out my thoughts. Several times over the last few months I've sat down to write a blog post, only to type something up and walk away with the post still in the DRAFT state.

And the same can be said for my creative endeavors—I've got several half-baked illustrations sitting on my laptop from brief moments of creative spark.

I'm still not quite sure why I keep running into a wall on these things. It's hard to know whether it's just the ongoing subconscious pandemic stress that has me feeling drained or if it's the combined liminal space that we're in where our normal day-to-day existence and routines continue to be in-flux.

Regardless of the exact answer, I've finally found myself sitting here on this post-Super Bowl Sunday evening ready to write.

Without further ado, here are a few miscellaneous thoughts bouncing around my head:

Things I expected to be easier in the year 2020

Back in October, I put down this short list in the Notes app on my phone:

  • Ordering a mattress online
  • Printing something at home
  • Cleaning Oven Sheet Pans
  • "Impromptu" interactions in the workplace when working remote
  • Rolling over a 401k
Across and Down

Back in 2019, my Grandpa Paul passed away. He had some health issues leading up to my wedding that year, and in the moment his passing happened quite fast and suddenly.

Lately I've been reminiscing more about my time spent with him as a kid. Alongside his trademark laugh, some of my most vivid memories are of him with a newspaper and crossword sprawled out on a table.

Over the holiday break this past year, I found myself at home with free time looking for ways to fill the days after checking-off all of the assorted being-an-adult tasks.

And through some connection to my Grandpa, I found myself becoming drawn to crosswords.

I never really got the chance to ask him how he got into doing crosswords originally, but it's always been a hobby I attribute to him in my mind (sort of like how you maybe have an Aunt that's really into collecting a specific trinket).

While I can't complete the the NY Times crossword without a hint here or there—so many older references!—it's been a really enjoyable new hobby over the last few months and one that pairs nicely with those Saturday + Sunday morning-coffee-at-home hours.

The art of making

As I passed the one-year mark at Slack back in December, I've been dwelling a lot on how much work goes into great software (and making great things in general!).

Like all things that you eventually get a close familiarity to, it can often be surprising to see just how much work goes into making things.

From the early product ideas to the hypotheses and management sign-off, to the design + engineering prototyping and implementation, to the testing and early feedback, to the eventual data analytics, to the adjustments and tweaks along the way, and finally to actual release...it's quite something to behold.

Perhaps unsurpisingly given that I'm a Front End Engineer with a passion for UI, one of my side interests is brand redesigns.

Like great art, they offer one of the most immediate challenges to your perception of something. And like the aforementioned software cycle, usually a ton of time, thought and work has gone into the process behind-the-scenes.

I've found myself recently drawn to brand redesign breakdowns over on Brand New's Under Consideration. I find them limitlessly fascinating and love to think about all of the decisions that led to the result. Take, for example, the recent Burger King refresh and tell me you don't find this design refresh appealing to analyze?

Burger King 2021 Brand Identities

Lasting impact

As the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be slowly coming into view for the pandemic, I'm starting to think about the lasting impact it will have on us and the questions that come next.

Will going into work with even the slightest cold be a thing of the past? Will we be apprehensive about being in large crowds for the rest of our lives? What will we remember most from this time period? How soon does travel return to pre-pandemic levels? What kind of effects will a globally shared trauma have on our ability to understand and relate to each other? Does this moment in time end up helping us tackle long unaddressed problems like massive inequality, mental health support and work-life balance?

None of these questions will be answered for some time, but I'm curious to see how this period of time will shape us and eventually be looked back on.

quarantinethoughtswinter
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