This is the second week of my “Serbian Corona Party” diary. You can see the Corona diary for the first week. Personal stuff – long, boring, irrelevant… (also wrote a bit about Corona Business and Idiot’s Corona virus survival guide – just for laughs). Oh, and I will be using a lot of Amazon affiliate links in this post, so if you buy anything using those links, I’ll get a commission, so you’ll practically be supporting all this drivel. 🙂
- Monday – space and human stupidity
- Hands washing – contemplating
- Tuesday – snow in a Shitstorm™
- Conspiracy theories
- Thursday – I love watches
- Civil liberties
- Friday – Pissed Punks
- Saturday – take it easy
- Sunday – human and animal rights
1. Monday – space and human stupidity
Monday 23rd of March 2020, Novi Sad, Serbia: As, I believe, Einstein said: “two things are unlimited: space and the human stupidity… I’m not 100% sure about the space.”
Came to the day-job work about an hour earlier, to realize that the contingency stockpiles and the needed paperwork. Started working on that and asking the other two colleagues as they arrived to help. Before that, had a nice talk with the cleaning lady (call her Mary) – she’s more professional at her job than we are at ours – told her that about a month after she’d been with us. 🙂 Since she’s been hired, our offices have been perfectly clean, and her job now is more risky and even more important I think.
Then came the morning meeting, with the higher ups and other department managers. On “my turn”, I said that in this situation, the meeting is no less meaningless and time wasting than usual, but now it also poses an unnecessary risk of infecting each other. Proposed to keep the meetings over the phone only, and a 3 shift system, so that even fewer people are working together at the same time and so we have more flexibility when we start getting ill. Asked them inform me during the day of their decision on both. Oh, and a female colleague attended the meeting instead of her department’s manager – looking a bit worried and scared. I said that I’m shit-scared, but if there’s one good thing about this Corona madness, it is that we get to see her, instead of that “old ugly fellow”. Nothing like an insulting sexist remark to get your mind off the fear and panic. 🙂
Even well organized countries and companies are bound to be taken by the chaotic situation, have no illusions that we of all people won’t get at least moderately panicked, confused and make some stupid decisions. No one really knows how to deal with this – anywhere in the world.
Got two calls for installing new computers on the premises. Replied to both: “we are probably already contagious. With that presumption, if the new computer is necessary for the work, we’ll come and set it up. Otherwise – cope with what you have. Need to keep contact to absolute minimum and keep as many men healthy as possible, for the situations when there’s no backup solution.” Didn’t even ask for the higher ups approval on this, since we had so much work anyway, with fewer men, that we were most likely to have to stay until the evening. For the really urgent stuff. Phone had been ringing like usual – non-stop. 🙂 My business phone is an old Nokia, so the battery lasts for days of non-stop talking. Not like this modern, “smart” phones (not a paid advert, but if guys from Nokia wish to contribute, by all means, I won’t mind 🙂 ).
The number of infected people is going up rapidly. As expected – based on the experiences in China, Italy, Spain… Measures that were taken were too late – like all those other countries did. Borders weren’t closed in time, while, once we got the Corona virus here, complete isolation wasn’t enforced in time.
Drew electricity and network connections and added a switch for 10 more computers for an improvised emergency headquarters. Within record time – defectively effective®! 🙂
Surgical mask sits awkwardly on my big nose – wish some of my other organs were as large! 🙂
Went to see a colleague technician (call him Mack) and ask if he needs any help with the computer installations. He was getting really anxious – so I pulled out some rakija from my “doomsday commodity reserves”. 🙂 Made a few dad-jokes and left him on his own – staying at physical distance makes people a lot less nervous these days, which makes sense. Saw the same with people in the street this morning – on the way to work. The fear and panic are starting to creep in it seems.
Personally, ever since the 1990’s mess in my country, I find it easier to just accept the fact that you’re already gone – in terms of fear at least. After accepting that fact, deep down, one can act more rationally, and avoid getting frozen in panic, or doing something stupid. Sort of getting one step ahead of your fear. Which, unintuitively, makes one’s chances of survival not at all lower, while at the same time helps being efficient and productive. Have played every football match as if it were the last, done every job/task in a similar manner and lived most days like that. No regrets, not really. 🙂 Of course, that will be put to the test in the following days.
Over 50 year old war veteran (call him Lucky – he smokes those – will accept money for this advert whenever convenient 🙂 ) has been level headed and more professional than usually. Helped pull out the day, with loads of tasks. Companies should hire veterans at least for the excrement-hits-the-air-circulation-enhancing-appliance situations – just in case. 🙂 Mack and the others had also outdone themselves by the end of the day. The amount of work we had managed to do within the 8 hours was tremendous – both efficient and professional. I told the guys at the shift’s end that. Thinking later: if the managers figure out we can work this fast – we’re fucked! 🙂
Tomorrow we’ll, hopefully, finish with the needed preparations for when half (or more) of the guys get ill. Having enough pre-configured computers, routers etc. Should have done that even sooner.
The morning meetings and the 2 shift teams are still in place – until further ado. And half past 2 progress reports. 🙂 One can always count on human stupidity. Not that I am much wiser, but I really believe that all to be counterproductive nonsense. After having arrived home, I had realized that I had forgotten to send the progress report – even though I had written it. No one called, no one asked. Another proof that no one really reads that stuff. 🙂 Considered not sending it even in the morning – just for laughs, to see how long it would take for anyone to realize it, but would consider that to be a bit too unprofessional, wouldn’t feel right.
My joke for the day has been: “bring back the sanctions and the bombing, fuck this shit!”
Afternoon: came home after a very exhausting day – exhausting mentally, but not physically. There wasn’t much traffic and the drivers were surprisingly nice (how to safely cycle in traffic). SWMBO was in the middle of cleaning the flat, so I put lunch to heat up and joined. Physical work is relaxing after mental stress. She has one on-line English class as I’m finishing this drivel, then I’m off to clean the bathroom. OCD never sleeps. 🙂 SWMBO often jokes I’m a lot like Sheldon from tha stupid American sitcom.
OK, enough dad-jokes… for now…
Found a cool home-workout video. These kinds of exercises feel less awkward than SWMBO’s aerobic ones. Called mom to hear if they need anything and suggested her to go through all the supplies and make a thorough list for the next 30 days at least – just in case. Even if I do get thin on money, I can always write checks without coverage and let the bank sue me once the Shitstorm™ has passed. 🙂 But unless something major unplanned happens, that should not be necessary.
Suppose now is a good time to buy stocks from companies offering video-conferences, webinars and similar software/services.
Our government organized school classes, for elementary and high schools to be broadcasted over the television. I don’t have a TV (for over a decade now), but heard that it’s very good. Teachers are giving lectures in front of the cameras and, people say, are doing very well. Some schools are organizing remote classes using their own platforms. Very good.
2. Hands washing – contemplating
This virus situation and trying to contain it has brought up the topic of hand washing. Just this morning, I thought about it – haven’t noticed myself washing hands that much more often than usual. I mean, under the normal circumstances I have always washed my hands:
- When coming from the outside – to not infect anything inside my apartment.
- Before taking a piss – to prevent the dirty hands from infecting anything down there.
- After taking a piss – because I was trained that way, see no hygienic reason whatsoever, as long as “the tool” is reasonably clean and one is not drunk enough to piss on their hands.
- Before eating – to prevent getting some poisoning.
- After eating – to not put any grease, or food remnants on anything else.
The only difference now is that I make sure to wash my hands at the day-job before touching my keyboard, and after coming back to the office from any field work, even when I don’t leave the building. And I’ve realized how often I used to touch my face.
However, a more drastic “hand washing” had already started with all the world’s leaders playing dumb, for not having taken the necessary precautions to prevent the Corona virus from spreading from China. Business and money was apparently more important than saving lives, so no borders were closed in time. Once the virus had entered, practically every country took too long before deciding to close down all the public spaces, non-essential businesses etc. I can bet a beer that no one is going to be punished for that – ever, in any country.
I can understand and support keeping the information from the public, in order to prevent panic. That’s good. I also understand suspending a lot of personal liberties to citizens, since this is a critical situation. But playing dumb and being hesitant on taking the needed measures is unacceptable. You had one job!
From what I could read, just one example: the US senate is still not decisive on whether and what measures should be taken to financially help the people and the small businesses (again, the people). And proposing measures to protect the big businesses. Politicians and the corporations (and other large capitalists) are still trying to keep it as close as possible to business as usual. Don’t think that’s possible. We, as the entire planet and human race, have a certain amount of resources and, in a Shitstorm™ like this, it is the job of a responsible government to make sure everyone is (equally – sharing what we have) fed and clothed. When/if this is over, then you can play however you like – but not now. Not this year. Probably not even the next.
Also, in crises like this one, it becomes apparent that money is just a public deal on how to exchange resources (including other people’s time and sweat). You can’t drink it, nor eat it. Having millions and needing food, with no one having enough extra to sell it, means the millions are worthless. Now is the time to see how much food, clothing, fuel, electricity and other resources can be produced with half the population ill, with limited movement and contact, then see that it is distributed in a way that the lowest number of people end up in real trouble.
Capitalism relies on many people being poor(er) and ever increasing productivity and profits. But it has no answer for something like this. Communism does. Otherwise, as in any crisis, the poor will get fucked – badly. Especially in “the distant, third world countries” (the people there are like you and me, only born in the wrong place). The good old Dylan:
“Where do you see yourself in five years time?” 🙂
- The first part of this drivel: Corona diary 01
- Corona virus survival guide – just for laughs
- Corona virus business
3. Tuesday – snow in a Shitstorm™
March 24th, 2020: In all this excitement, I wasn’t watching the damn weather report. This morning I got up at about 4, to finish as much work as possible before lots of people arrive and the chaos continues. At about 5 AM, had a nice ride to work in the snow (wrote on my cycling website about how to dress for winter cycling, and how to ride a bicycle in the snow). This winter was so mild that I didn’t need to put any winter tyres for the bicycle. Fortunately, it’s too worm for any snow to stay, or any ice to form, at least in the city.
Did some work with Preacher, who had also come in earlier. While letting the computer download the backups of my websites to an external hard disk I keep at the day-job for that (how to make sure the stored data on hard disks and SSD is good). I am rather meticulous about the backups – both personally and professionally (how often should backups be made). Internet connection at work has been problematic for weeks now, with no one authorized contacting the provider (as far as I know). So I had brought my own wireless router to work (using the mobile 4G connection – a cool and handy gadget, otherwise used for my bicycle repair garage connectivity).
Then went for the 8 AM morning meeting. The department’s head was very nervous today. Later that day, he yelled at me after asking whether a job that needed to be done in a crowded headquarters could be delayed for tomorrow early morning (I wasn’t arguing just asked/suggested), when there aren’t any people. “Don’t ever ask me something like that again!” I didn’t get upset – he’s been behaving immaturely for years now, so I just laugh when he has his bursts. I had heard from a colleague that has left the company just under a year ago how both the head and the deputy had lost the touch with reality, but didn’t believe it was that bad until about six months ago, after I got to attend the meetings personally. Our relation has been getting “better and better”. He’ll probably retire in a year or two and, since that’s the trend in Serbia, the next one will most probably be even worse.
Got a call from my bank (my Intesa bank experience). Told me I can go to their office to give some foreign checks for cashing Amazon affiliate payments, that Amazon still won’t pay using a direct bank deposit (for Serbia, of all the other neighbouring countries where that is possible). Stopped by their office during a field job, only to be told I should “come tomorrow” – when a worker that has the authorization to deal with those is working. Their customer service and the level of organization is “stellar!” 🙂 Never thought I’d be advised to enter a bank like this:
The work has been a lot less hectic today, partially thanks to yesterday’s preparations and a few of us having arrived a lot earlier than “normal”. Ride home was rather nice. I usually run the red lights on a bicycle, as long as I can see that there are no cars that could be distracted by that (far enough to not even consider they might need to brake, or swerve because of me). Yet, in this Shitstorm™, I stop and wait at red lights. Anything I can do to make it appear as if law and order are still functioning can help – while making a bad example now is probably more harmful than usually.
When I got home, I was exhausted. Started reading Foundation and Earth on the Kindle (Amazon affiliate links), as SWMBO was finishing her on-line English classes. Fell asleep really early (think about 7, or 8 PM).
25th of March 2020: woke up before 5 AM. Saw that SWMBO had prepared breakfast and lunch for me to carry to work. I had started making and packing food for work to avoid going into any shop/bakery/restaurant unless really necessary.
I must say, like those stupid looking “delighted housewives” from commercials, that I really love and swear by plastic food containers made by Curver (affiliate link). I generally don’t really care for any brand in particular, just look for what’s “the lowest priced product of those that are good enough“. Both my Curver “affection” and the bolded sentence are what SWMBO often teases me about. Since, when buying something I don’t really know much about, I often ask the experts to recommend, as quoted afore.
It’s been snowing all night, but no snow on the roads – too hot in the city. The weather report says it will be warmer today, over 9 °C, rising to about 15 °C for the weekend. No studded winter tyres this season.
Reading the news reports “between the lines”, I can see the preparations for the worst are starting. Though no one says if those are just precautions – but I doubt that, knowing my countrymen, we are usually one step behind, not ahead – hoping I’m wrong, as I often am (hoping, not wrong). Officially reported numbers of the infected and dead are relatively low still. But former fair halls are being turned into improvised hospitals as they have announced “more numerous Corona virus testing”. Which leads me to the conclusion they are preparing us for hearing the real numbers.
Co-Author of my favourite comic books, Oumpah-Pah, and Asterix (Amazon affiliate links – because one should never pass an opportunity to make money off other people’s misery, especially if that doesn’t increase their misery any further – Corona profiteering 🙂 ), Uderzo, has died.
Snow outside was piling up. Decided to go earlier, to avoid riding through deep snow. It should be cleared by cars by noon, but morning might be “critical”. Came to work just under an hour earlier. The floors were still wet. I apologized to Mary for messing up her hard work and joked that she should hit me over the back with the broomstick, since I apparently can’t learn otherwise 🙂 – it’s been my second time this week (on Tuesday I got in before she did, so that was fine).
On the way to work, I met the same driver, same pickup on the same intersection, as yesterday. Why did that guy go so much earlier yesterday? 🙂 And, exactly as yesterday, I thought “why should a one-tone pickup stop and wait for just one bicycle to pass?”, so waved him on to go, even though I had the right of way. While he, just as yesterday, insisted that I go first. Native citizens of my home town (Novi Sad) and province (Vojvodina) are generally regarded as very polite, patient and always being rather slow at doing anything, including the talking. So a typical argument between the two natives would go about like:
- If you would please.
– No rush, you go first.
- Right after you.
– No, I insist, you go first.
- Definitely, but after you.
– It’s all right, really, I can wait.
- No reason, no problem – just go.
– Certainly, as soon as you pass.
…two hours later…
- I’m in no rush, really, there’s no reason for you to waste any time.
– Oh, it’s no bother, please go ahead…
Morning meeting: greeted the other managers by saying how delighted I am to see us all get together in the middle of all this isolation. 🙂 And repeated my request for making 3 shits instead of 2, so the smallest possible number of people get in contact with each other for when one of us gets infected. So far the morning has been quiet – all the unnecessary field work is ceased until further ado.
Work was relatively relaxed today, compared to the previous two days. Department head called to ask if we have done all the preparations that I had recommended and then, as they were not completed while I wasn’t working, did with the colleagues from my shift. After taking a few seconds to understand he’s asking about those, I confirmed it’s all been done.
Afternoon: ride home was uneventful. But once I had arrived, SWMBO told me of the new measures that are being taken. Belgrade and Novi Sad fair halls are being turned into make-shift hospitals. They look like morgues/mass graves, really. Colleagues had discussed those this morning.
The bad part is that, according to the plan, all the people infected with Corona and anyone living with them are allegedly to be taken here. I’m more afraid of spending 14 days at such a place, with symptoms mild enough to stay conscious, than I am of dying from Corona virus – really, literally. In other words: Serbian health care system was devastated in the past 30 years (during the Communism, health care was very good). Many doctors are incompetent and don’t really care about the patients. So I fear being forced into their care, at those facilities, in stead of being left at home. Anyway, must make sure to stock up some good books for when I’m off to that location. First world problems, yes. 🙂 Then again, perhaps that is the idea – to make sure people take this seriously.
She was pissed off from reading all sorts of confusing and probably fake news. Asked if I know of a good, reliable, and objective source of information on-line? That made me think – I don’t. Apart from my own websites that deal with bicycle mechanics and IT related topics, where I make sure all the information is as accurate and as objective as possible (and not let any kind of payment affect the contents), I really don’t know of any on-line newspaper etc, that isn’t biased in one way, or another and that really checks their facts. If anyone has any recommendations, please use the comments section (just please mind the etiquette).
SWMBO wanted to play Civilization VI on our LAN. Shit has really hit the fan – this is far from normal. Not that I was complaining. 🙂 I always play with Russia, of course. 🙂 Some cool Russian music:
5. Conspiracy theories
Reading (mostly) and hearing what some people are saying these days, I almost miss the anti-vaxxers and HAARP conspiracy theorists. Human stupidity is limitless.
Not that I’d dismiss any sick conspiracy theory – you can expect the people and the governments to do all sorts of gruesome stuff. But there really is no way for an average monkey to figure out what the truth is, even less chance of figuring out exactly how and which things are really done. Here’s my conspiracy theory:
There are only two kinds of people: those who admit taking a piss while in the shower/swimming pool, and those who don’t. 🙂 And here are just some of the “jewels” I could hear these days… almost forgot: for the “average Americans” (not that the rest of them/us are any brighter) – I do not agree with any of the below cited statements, nor I consider them to be the (whole) truth – they are documented just for laughs. OK, after a disclaimer any software, or pharmaceutical company would be proud of, here it goes:
- Corona virus is harmless, it’s just like a flu. The governments are fooling us in order to take the full control.
- The virus was invented by the Americans to harm the Chinese.
- The virus was invented by the Chinese to harm the Americans.
- Children can not get infected, nor spread the virus.
- Corona virus is dangerous only for “the elderly”, while for all the others it’s “just like any other flu”.
- (my personal “favourite”) 5G mobile networks are causing the virus to spread and wekening people’s immune system.
6. Thursday – I love watches
26th of March, 2020: yesterday, I had forgotten to put on my watch as I went home from work. I love watches. For as long as I can remember, all the adults in my family had them and I was fascinated by them. Learned how to tell the time sooner than I learned how to read. Don’t remember ever asking for one, but remember that my father gave me his old, Russian, analogue watch, with a nylon wristband. He got a new, Casio, digital watch, with a small swordfish drawnon the front (later I have learned that divers watches are marked like that). In previous years I had lost the Russian watch somewhere, in one of the moves probably, but I’ve always had a watch.
I go everywhere by a bicycle and my metabolism is such that I sweat a lot, even when I’m not too tired. So, after my last “water resistant” watch got completely rotten on the inside, an older, experienced watchmaker told me that for my use (after I explained the situation), the only watch that can work is “a really water resistant watch – a divers watch”. So I had Googled, some 6 years ago and the only watch I really liked was Casio MDV106-1A (Amazon affiliate link):
I love simple watches that just tell the time – no fancy numerous dials and no digital watches. I see some cars today use digital speedometers. Think it’s nonsense. Analogue instruments allow for fastest and easiest reading when you need to get a rough estimate, not split second / split-millimetre readings. Now I must quote one of my famous authors, Douglas Adams (his Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is among my favourite books – Amazon affiliate link, of course):
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
Since I sweat a lot, leather and nylon wristbands are out of the question. While, because my arms are quite hairy, steel ones tend to pluck on hairs and are thus not the most comfortable. So I had opted for a plastic/rubber wristband.
Pro tip: Casio rubber/plastic wristbands are not very long lasting (I get two years at max, with normal care). And they can be expensive.
It’s been next to impossible to find a new good quality wristband in Serbia, while ordering one from abroad costs an arm and a leg. Been trying for a few months to source a good quality aftermarket steel wristband, since they are durable, though less comfortable – but it was to no avail. So the Casio divery watch has been practically useless for a few months now.
In the mean time, I got a Chinese knock-off copy of a Casio G-shock. It cost a lot less than a new wristband. While it is a surprisingly accurate copy, so very comfortable on the hand.
I always wear a watch, feel sort of “naked” without one (and, as everyone asks, no, I often don’t carry a mobile phone, don’t like ’em). But, when I’m typing on a keyboard, I take the watch off. Usually always remembering to put it back on – except for yesterday. 🙂
As for the keyboard typing – do it relatively quickly, without looking. At about 10 I had realized that it is the main tool for controlling computers and I should learn how to do it quickly, since writing code with looking at each key was very exhausting and took too much concentration. So I practiced a lot in complete darkness, deliberately, forcing myself that way not to look at the keyboard – because it’s impossible in the darkness. I later found out that is not very good for the eyes, having the monitor be the only source of light. Fortunately, at 40 now and still no need for any glasses, in spite of years looking at computer screens. I also later found out that my way was far from the most efficient one for learning how to type without looking at the keyboard. 🙂
Morning meeting at the day-job: 3 shift schedule is still not approved. I figured, reading between the lines, that the general idea is: “we’ll probably get sick any day now, so we should finish as much work as possible, then off to the home-quarantine, or hospitals, depending on the severity”. Some departments had already been decimated in such a way. I don’t agree with such policy, but never refuse any orders – just make sure to explain why I disagree when that is the case (bosses hate this, probably more than direct disobedience, in my opinion & experience).
In addition to our ID’s, we got some signed papers to show if stopped during a curfew, or when travelling outside the city.
Today I had to tell the colleagues who came voluntarily, even though it wasn’t their shift, that it is commendable, but they should go home and not come unless called for – we have to minimize contact, in case one gets sick, the entire shift will be quarantined. It’s not normal, but that’s the way it is – it will pass. If anyone is looking for some top class technicians once the Shitstorm™ has passed, I’ve got a few recommendations – guys who are hugely underpaid and undervalued here. 🙂
Went to the managers and asked to discuss the following weeks’ work schedule. My proposal (for which I think is the least bad of the available options) is “being re-considered”. I had patiently explained why their proposal is not the least bad option. Admitting that I can’t say what’s right, or wrong, no one can in a situation like this, but that I’d listen to me when it comes to my department’s organization (patting myself on the back as I’m writing this 🙂 ), because of the knowledge and experience with the job. Had previously consulted with the colleagues to see if anyone has any objections, or better (less bad) proposals, and to check if I had overlooked something (talk about being agile, forward thinking and pro-active 🙂 ).
Afternoon: got a call from the head manager (let’s call him Saruman). Wi-Fi Internet is not working. Wi-Fi Net is not used for business at the day-job, only for private mobile phones (social network etc.). He asked for our top network specialist (call him Ghimli) to come tomorrow and fix it. I said that “he can’t do that, it’s a job for the (private) telephone company”. Explaining that I had asked him to take a look at it a few weeks ago and he wouldn’t, because it really isn’t his job, that I had confirmed the router needs replacing and told Saruman to call the telephone company in the morning, giving him their contact number, but that he should first find out which telephone line number is used for that ADSL connection, to see about it with the company telephone department.
Work shifts are still not confirmed for the next week, but Saruman said he’ll let me know tomorrow (Friday) morning what the shifts are.
One of the tasks my department has been assigned with since the Tuesday was to drive women from the telephone call center to and from work, each day. 4 women, one of our technicians as the driver. Well, today we got informed that one of the colleagues from a near by department was diagnosed with the Corona virus. Technicians started calling me, asking not to have to drive those women, saying it is risky. I called Saruman to talk to him about it, and he said that we shouldn’t panic for no reason and that those women are fine. In my opinion, it is too costly to risk even one of our technicians for a job that any driver could do. It makes no sense!? Drivers can’t fix computers, networks, nor communications. We have a lot more drivers than competent technicians. Will try to talk some sense into the head managers in the morning (probably during the mass morning meeting, that is still obligatory and also makes no sense). People are scared. I could volunteer for the task, but that’s still only one shift, out of two, or, if my proposition gets accepted, three.
I truly am amazed with the level of stupidity. May be missing something, having fewer information, but from my point of view, as far as I can read the situation, the top management is acting childishly.
7. Civil liberties
This whole crisis demanded some extreme measures. In Serbia, for now, it boils down to curfew from 5 PM to 5 AM (which reminds me of the great film by Quentin Tarantino – From Dusk Till Dawn – I love his films in general) and police tracking phones of the citizens who are ordered to stay in home-quarantine.
Some people have started complaining about the civil liberties being impeded. Noting the example of Sweden, where there is no curfew. This is my, personal, opinion on the topic – sure every other monkey has theirs, but this is mine.
Crisis like this asks for swift making of tough decisions. It is often, more than usually, better to act quickly, than to think of the most perfect plan, with regards to everyone’s feelings – apart from suppressing riots and panic, that is. Now is the time when your freedom of movement and public gathering almost directly endangers other peoples’ lives.
It’s similar to a state of war. Of course a huge number of idiotic decisions and moves are bound to happen. Still, in a Shitstorm™, that is the less-bad option than being too hesitant, or too considerate.
To avoid any misunderstanding: I despise all the Serbian governments since 1988. They all worked towards destroying the country and selling it off to private corporations – without anyone being sued for treason. However, in a situation like this – our government is the government we’ve got (and deserve, I must add, based on the state of mind of the average Serbian citizen).
The measures government took, although a bit too late in my opinion, are necessary. We aren’t the disciplined Germans, nor more socially reserved Swedes. So – yes, curfew is necessary, you know very well that otherwise too many people will go out more and socialize more. We’ve seen it in the past weeks, haven’t we?
Same goes for tracking the mobile phones to make sure home-quarantine is being respected. That’s because “we’re special” and too many people had given themselves the liberty to be “exceptional” and “just go out to do this”, or “just make a quick visit to xxx yyy”.
Will the governments (and the corporations paying the governments) try to abuse this extended authority? I’m convinced they will. On top of that, Shitstorm™ will destroy a lot of small businesses and leave many people out of jobs even at large corporations. So workers will be in big trouble, worrying how to survive, without much time to be concerned about their liberties. Many things we now take for granted were a result of decades of class struggle, propelled by the communist ideology. Women’s voting rights, paid sick leave, insurance, 40 hour work week, no child labour etc. Many of those things will most probably be jeopardized as a consequence of the on coming recession. And the time will come to fight for getting them back. Only, now is not the time for that.
8. Friday – Pissed Punks
27th of March 2020: Well, with this Corona virus social distance and curfew, Friday is not what it used to be. 🙂
Morning, day-job: came to work about an hour earlier. After talking with many colleagues during yesterday afternoon, feeling a bit anxious before the morning meeting. Need to remain calm while talking with childlish idiots upstairs and trying to convince them to drop the idea of us working as the drivers. Wrote down 3 discussion points in my notebook:
- IT personnel should not be used as drivers for other department colleagues. Because it increases the risk of them getting cross-infected. When one gets sick, all they were in contact with will have to be quarantined for weeks. We have about 1000 people with drivers licenses, and only about 5 people who can fix the IT and the communication stuff. It’s not about spreading the panic, but about common sense and simple logic.
- People are stressed. The idea of chauffeuring other potentially infected colleagues makes some even more stressed, some more scared, and some feeling like they are undervalued and “used up” for no good reason. Feeling as if the top management is their enemy, not caring about them (which is the case in my opinion anyway). It could badly affect the morale that is still kept relatively high, in spite of the Shitstorm™.
- Related to the above two points, now is the time to decide whether we want a functioning IT and communication infrastructure, or more chauffeurs – can’t have both, not now.
Before the meeting, Lucky came to my office and said: “I’ve been to wars for this country, but won’t risk infecting myself and the others for nothing. I’ve never refused an order, but will refused to drive the women unless there’s a proposed 2 metre distance.” Went off to the meeting after that…
There was a lot of yelling in the meeting – so I couldn’t help telling Saruman and his deputy (call him Grima) how childlishly and immaturely they are behaving. Saruman yelled at me to leave immediately. Disobeyed that and said that I must first let them know that Lucky won’t be driving anyone and that people are against that decision. After that, Saruman said that the whole department should come to the office.
Then, during the “2nd meeting”, Lucky said what he had told me before the meeting. Saruman asked if anyone else objects driving the women and I had raised my hand. He accused us of spreading the panic. Only then was I given a chance to explain my point of view, concerning the above noted 3 points. Noting that the meeting itself means that in case anyone of us gets confirmed to be infected, it’s all stopped! Finally, he gave up and said that we won’t be driving women.
Then, as a pain in the ass I am, I objected the work schedule they proposed. Said that I understand they are in a lot of stress, needing to make a lot of tough calls, but they should let us manage our department’s work, because we are willing and able, so they don’t have to worry about it. Their proposed work schedule made too many people needlessly come into contact with one another and they also put people who don’t work well together in the same team. Saruman said he doesn’t care if someone doesn’t like someone else, there’s a job to be done. I replied that under the normal circumstances it is perfectly logical and fine, but people are under stress now and we should avoid contributing to that as much as possible. I also said that after this passes, I have no intention of attending the meetings, nor organizing the work – the only reason for trying to do it now is because I think it is best and would consider it irresponsible and unprofessional not to do it now. After the Shitstorm™, I’m out!
Of course, Saruman accused Lucky and I of “spreading the panic” and told that we are “free to leave the company if we don’t like it”. 🙂 But we weren’t the ones yelling and Lucky for sure has been very calm, always joking and lifting other colleagues’ spirits all the time.
I had previously told Saruman to keep Mack off work for the next week, since he’s been very stressed and scared. Saruman publicly, in front of the other colleagues, mentioned that and asked Mack if he’s scared. The manipulative arse. Of course, the man replied he’s fine (“See?!”). Fortunately, I’ve got more than little credit with Mack for that to be taken in the wrong way – but talked to him afterwards just in case.
Bottom line – after a lot of yelling, arguing, insults, accusations and wasted time – no chauffeuring, but the works schedule is more bad than it has to be, at least in my opinion.
Management 101: during a Shitstorm™, just like in a football match – no one “rises to the challenge”, but falls down to the level of their training and competence.
9. Saturday – take it easy
After somewhat mentally exhausting week, came the first day of the weekend. Decided to take it easy. Wasn’t thinking much about being active on call duty – for most of the day at least. Got up early started the morning by cleaning my desk at home. Not really clearing, just cleaning. 🙂 Desk is the only thing kept in a sort of an “organized chaos”. With lots of stuff pilled up, but in such a way that even in the dark I know exactly where anything is. Any attempt to organize it so it “looks neat” has always failed. Went shopping for groceries afterwards.
SWMBO had to work, doing her online English classes. After reading a book in the sun on the balcony for about 2 hours, I started working on new articles for my cycling and IT websites. This took most of the day, and I was happy to finally be able to work on those, without much distractions and stress. First one published is: when to replace tyres on a bicycle. Chill day.
SWMBO is getting better at Civilization VI. 🙂 In the evening, she mixed some honey with rakija and we made a Saturday night party at home (where else during a curfew?). She made a setup for karaoke on my computer – and, while she’s pretty good, no one sings as badly as I do. Seriously. It’s not an exaggeration. People don’t believe me until they get to hear me sing. I could make a fortune in the music industry – just by charging people in order to stop singing. 🙂
10. Sunday – human and animal rights
Now I’ll discuss an interesting phenomena. It’s probably more interesting for the psychiatrists and psychologists (while they’re at it, might examine me as well – everybody says it, but I still can’t get being crazy in writing, so I can retire earlier), but none the less – every monkey has a right to their own opinion.
Among the first “anti-Corona” measures our government took was forbidding all the people aged 65 and older from going out – ever. 24 hour curfew as far as they are concerned. Other monkey reactions to that could be grouped along these lines:
- The old vote for the ruling party, they should stay at home for the elections as well.
- I saw an old person today and told them I’d report them to the police if they don’t go home!
- They just go into queues – at banks, post offices and markets, it’s good they are forbidden from going out.
And similar. My opinion is that, from the health perspective, it’s best for them do be able to go out and walk in the sun – without getting close to other people. It’s better for both the mental and physical health.
However – since Serbian people aren’t disciplined and like to socialize, no matter what, suppose that the measure was necessary – older people are more likely to get more severe health problems from the Corona virus.
The other measure our government took was forbidding everyone else from going out from 5 PM to 5 AM. Now it’s prolonged during the weekends – from 3 PM to 5 AM.
I think this is also necessary, because, as stated above, our people aren’t disciplined and they still are gathering and socializing, thus spreading the virus. Our health care system is fucked, so anyone needing a hospital treatment can be considered dead – that’s sad, but it is how it is.
However – the reactions to that were, generally:
- It’s tyranny! What harm can come from people walking out. We’re like prisoners!
- It’s a dictatorship – he (the president) is going down in the first elections!
- This is unconstitutional.
And so on and so forth. Mind you, this comes from the monkeys who, in the past decades, have voted and chosen:
- Slobodan Milošević (got later to be a Hague prosecuted war criminal), the warmongering nationalist and a dictator – over the normal, moderate Ante Marković, who was for reforms, not for war.
- Tomislav Nikolić – got elected to be the president. The man who bought his university diploma without attending the university. Who was a member of the nationalist, war mongering SRS party during the 1990s wars. Can’t really describe the level of my “delight” by seeing him elected – comparing him to Donald Trum doesn’t cut it. The man won the president elections fair and square. People chose him.
Those are just a few of the highlights. Anyway, I wouldn’t bet on my countrymen’s wisdom of choice. Put in other words: I can bet that the next ruling party/president will only be a bit worse, not better.
Enough politics, back to the phenomena. Another measure taken was making allowance for the owners of pets (with dogs in mind primarily) to walk them between 8 PM to 9 PM, for up to 20 minutes, in spite of the curfew – as an exception.
Well, this resulted in the following comments:
- I’ll stay with my dog for the full hour, how can they tell if I got out 10, or 30 minutes ago?
- I’ll find some stray dog and go out every evening from 8 to 9 PM.
And many other “clever” ideas. In practice, if media and what I hear is to be trusted (taking it all with a grain of salt), in many places there were gatherings and socializing (“parties”) in the evening, people with dogs hanging out. Which is fine and good under normal circumstances. But not now, at least in my opinion – now it can be dangerous.
Anyway, less than a week later, the president announced that the 8 to 9 PM dog-walking exception is abolished, allegedly for reasons stated in the paragraph above. Well, this created a revolution – on the Internet only, for now. People are writing complaints to the government, crying how inhumane and uncalled for it is. Some veterinarians are saying they are experts on the topic and know how bad it is for the animals. Veterinarians are complaining how no experts were consulted for making that decision.
This monkeys opinion: what about epidemiologists and the police? The former ones might have some idea on what to do in a situation like this, while the latter ones have a very good idea of how people are behaving and how much the proposed measures are respected. I don’t know if politicians consulted them – can only hope that they did.
But the interesting part is – the same people who were supporting, praising, the 24 hour entrapment of the old people, are now raging about dogs not being allowed out for 12 hours, during the curfew.
I feel bad about the dogs – they are the collateral damage of human stupidity and poor discipline – as always. In my opinion, keeping dogs in the city, in a flat, is inhumane. Our cities are not good even for the grown up healthy humans, even less so for the kids, the elderly and the dogs (saying this seems to outrage the “dog lovers”).
Stray dogs in my city seem a lot better socialized, a lot more “normal”, compared to dogs kept in the flats. Many people have some sort of relation as if the dog were their child, and to make it even more interesting, the “child” is usually rather spoiled. My mom lives in the country and her dogs have a very large yard. Yet, they can’t wait to be taken outside. And love the company of other dogs, as well as that of humans (can’t really understand dogs when it comes to the latter). No one can convince me that it’s good and healthy for a dog to live in a flat, with humans, taking a piss only when the owner comes home from work, gets up in the morning etc. It’s inhumane.
Sure your dog loves you and can’t be without you. Even if your own mother doesn’t, your dog will love you. Even when “owners” torture and beat their dogs, they often love the humans in spite of that (such dogs just end up hating most other humans, which isn’t all too wrong in and of itself). But that doesn’t mean you are really doing the animal a favour.
I love dogs. If I lived in the country, I would never “buy a dog” (in spite of all the “love” – dogs are still “bought” and “owned” – like the US blacks a few generations back). But I would ask a stray dog if they want to be my friend and make a good dog-house for them. Keeping the option for them to leave whenever they please open.
Continued in Corona diary 03.