From my home office

The end of the virtual semester is beginning to transition to the virtual summer. As the “off season” begins each year, it sometimes feels like things should start to slow down a bit, but that never turns out to be the case. There’s always loads to do, and those loads have expanded greatly with all the added planning for the coming academic year under ongoing pandemic-related uncertainties. The current expectation is that we’ll continue to work from home through the bulk of the summer.

Dan's home officeSince I twisted the arms of all my colleagues to provide some updates from their home offices over the past few weeks, I figure it’s only fair for me to do the same. What are things looking like from my end, you ask (or maybe you didn’t)? Easy enough to answer in the literal sense: my “office” has the benefit/distraction of a west-facing window overlooking some ponds and fields. Great for the occasional bout of spacing out; not so great for focusing on spreadsheets and such. It’s fair if you’re wondering what’s up with the milk crates. They’re my best attempt at an ersatz standing desk setup, easily convertible for when I start getting tired on my feet. Innovation!

The contours of the space have been gradually shifting along with the season. My wife and I are expecting a baby toward the end of the summer, and I’m currently camped out in what will ultimately become a nursery. Throughout our quarantine, I’ve gone from being surrounded by literally hundreds of books, to dealing with the strange acoustics of a totally empty room, to figuring out where to position cribs, changing tables, and other newborn accoutrements. It’s been kind of nice to have a side project on which to focus while confined to the house, but it also makes a busy time even busier (which experienced parents tell me is likely to continue once the child arrives, though I’m skeptical).

What makes this period so particularly busy? There’s the usual stuff, including renewing scholarship awards for returning students and lots of communications with incoming students. Our present circumstances, though, have also created a lot of unusual stuff. We’re working closely with many of our current students who have quickly had to change their plans for the summer, and the ensuing logistical and financial disruptions they’re facing. We’re also rejiggering our fall recruitment plans, which normally involve a variety of in-person events around the world, but will unfold virtually this year instead.

Murray the dog yawningSo, lots going on professionally, lots going on personally. My sense is that Murray has gotten fairly accustomed to us being here all the time, and on the whole finds our new lives agreeable. By the time the 7th or 8th walk of the day rolls around, though, he may get a bit ornery. He’s got a lot on his mind, too, needing to prepare for a new roommate and all. It’s an adjustment period for everyone, but we’re hanging in there. As always, I’m hoping the same is true for all our blog readers, too.

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