We are coming up on day 60 of lockdown. We gave the office the option of working from home early March, made it mandatory 1 week later. NY state made it official a week after that.
Lots of little changes add up to an unusual period. I have been keeping a list of random observations — perhaps you have a list of your own as well. This is what I am noticing:
• Everybody waves. Whether they are walking or driving, it feels like I am living in small town America. We are all in this together and it shows.
• Unemployment as measured by BLS is 20.5%. In reality, it is much higher. If we include people who could not file unemployment claims (State offices are overwhelmed), gig workers, and furloughed workers just waiting for their companies to lay them off or go bankrupt, we are at least 25% — maybe even closer to 30%.
• If you want to support your local restaurants, buy their Gift cards to use post-lockdown. It gets them cash now, and gives you something to look forward to.
• Things I want to do:
…..-Learn to play Piano, take a course in AstroPhysics, read non-fiction, improve my French, work out every day.
Things I am actually doing:
…..-Cooking, eating, drinking, reading nonsense on Twitter, streaming lots of Netflix/AmazonPrime/Disney+
• For stocks, March was one of the 20 worst months in market history; April was one of the 20 best. Some pundits looking ONLY at April forget how much context matters. (A Wealth of Common Sense)
• There are two kinds of people during this lockdown: Those who are having a bit of fun with it, and those with kids. No joke, every parent I know has real challenges that those of us without kids at home do not.
• Apple, Amazon, *Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are all part of our daily lives. It’s hard to imagine a world without them, which is how they managed to grow to $5 trillion in market cap. At more than 20% of the S&P 500, they represent the largest share of the index held by the top five companies since the early 1970s. (*except FB, which I finds sucks so badly I can’t even) (Batnick)
• Update technology: I reset the router and wifi extenders, I updated every OS and App on every device in the house, from phones to tablets to computers. I wiped/clean reinstalled one iPad that was having issues.
• Amazon: I used to buy everything from Amazon — they are reliable, convenient and much of the time, the cheapest. But the lockdown has me noticing prices more, and I am using Google Shopping to comparison shop. I am finding many items cheaper elsewhere, and frequently much cheaper, then Amazon. What will this mean for $AMZN post-lockdown?
• A 20+ million job decrease in last month is truly unprecedented. For perspective, add up all of the job losses of all of recessions dating back to 2nd term of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the late 1950s. All of those job losses together are lower than those in April 2020. (Carl Riccadonna)
• Repairs: I have been fixing lots of little things: the spinning arm below the top dishwasher shelf; freezer door lid; Coffeemaker descaled + grinder cleaned; rehung screen door so closes properly; dripping faucet;
• What (annoyingly) I can’t fix: Driveway/Basketball court has a crack turning into a hole; big tree in back has fungal infection / major vertical split; outdoor furniture w/mildew, which I could clean if I could get some bleach or Lysol (see this) (I will try some vinegar); I have an old aftermarket SL hardtop with a sunroof (just the top) I was going to try repainting it myself but I may just sell it on eBay as is;
• I don’t suffer from Depression or Anxiety, but I know lots of people who do. It is horrible to have this while under lockdown, and even worse if you are all alone. People are genuinely hurting.
• Warren Buffett is not having fun: The version of Warren Buffett we got this weekend has been bruised by the bank stocks and battered by the airlines. He’s had the joy of being among his live audience and fellow shareholders taken away from him. (Josh)
• Nature is cool: A pair of red-tailed Hawks hang around the house. The female just missed grabbing a squirrel 10 yards outside of my home office window. Field mice and the little chipmunks? Not as lucky. Blue Jays are a fraction the Hawk’s size, and keep harassing them away from their nest. During a Zoom meeting, the female Hawk dive-bombed straight at me – it looked to me like she was going to crash straight through the window my desk faces. I dove under the desk, and it had to look ridiculous to everyone else.
• Speaking of Zoom meetings: The secret to a good Zoom meeting is 30 minutes or less. If I were on 8 hours of Zooms a day — and some poor bastards I know are — the mental health challenges would go off the scale;
• Some Good News with John Krasinski is a delightful weekly uplift. Drive through Strip clubs are not. I have also been streaming lots of Sci-Fi.
• I feel like I am eating more than ever, yet I am losing weight. My takeaways:
…..–Healthier eating: Most of what we eat is unprocessed. Fresh veggies, chicken, beef, turkey, steak.
…..–Portions: We have a Chipotle on our ground floor of NYC office; It’s a fast and easy default choice when rushed. I have come to realize their portions are 3X normal.
…..–Fruit/vegetables: I have an Orange, Banana, and/or Apple daily; frozen veggies and/or salad, too.
…..–No High Fructose Corn Syrup: Even the Heinz Natural ketchup is cane sugar, not HFCS
…..–Loss of muscle mass? Without my commute to work, Tennis, etc. I wonder how much weight loss is the wrong kind.
• Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen has prepared millions of meals to feed the hungry in the wake of natural disasters. They are active in dozens of cities providing nearly 200,000 fresh meals every day. #ChefsforAmerica does great work.
• Narratives: I cannot help but notice how obvious the various narratives are in, well everything: The Virus, medical advancements, the politics, lockdown, all of it is one story that serves to confirm the priors of its authors/readers. Under periods of uncertainty, the flop sweat becomes obvious and people create a comforting story to tell themselves. Narratives have always ruled the world around is, they just are especially visible today.
• When did Frozen Vegetables get so good? They were tasteless, formless shite in my childhood; is this change an improvement in food technology or just my faulty memory?
• At the backyard feeders, the birds follow a strict pecking order: First the Starlings arrive early AM, then the Blue Jays, followed by Doves, and Cardinals. The Finches have their own separate feeder. The red-headed Woodpecker shows up whenever he damn well wants, because nobody fucks with the Woodpecker. Not even the hawks. Nobody.
• How much can one-person floss? The body requires constant maintenance: Haircuts and nails, but also, teeth, skin, etc. I missed a teeth cleaning mid-March and I fear I won’t get to go again until next March. Hopefully, all of my teeth don’t fall out of my head between now and then.
• The outcome of this economic contraction is totally dependent upon how fast we get a treatment and/or vaccine. Until then all bets are off in how fast we recover to 2019 economic levels. EOM