December Writing Challenge Wrap-Up: Week 4

For many of us who make our career (if not our emotional home) in IT, this week was the beginning of a two-week respite from constant changes. Holiday vacation combines with a generate end-of-year risk-aversion when it comes to change and means we can take a moment to catch up on tasks, and maybe reflect a bit on the year. To be sure, we’re seeing it here. Once again, I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who is taking time out of their day to share a bit of themselves here. See you for the final few posts next week!

Overcoming Anxiety

In one of the more serious prompts of the challenge, Maisie Sackett offers a series of suggestions as part of a very “2020”-style party invitation.

From: janobi

As someone who suffers from an inferiority complex, it’s always hard to overcome anxiety, although I’m reassured I’m doing a good job, and a valued member of the team, it’s hard to hear nice things. I can deal with critical feedback much better than accepting, that I am valued and integral to the team.

From: Chrystal Taylor (ChrystalT)

This is a constant challenge. When I start to feel overwhelmed, the easiest method for me of relaxing and letting go of my worries and anxiety is to go hang out in nature—preferably with no cell reception. I don’t always have time for that, and I live in a suburban neighborhood, so I really do have to go somewhere. A lot of times just talking to my mom helps tons. I tell her everything, and she always listens (even when she has no idea what I am talking about—like anything tech related). She (and my best friend) are my sounding boards, and always supportive. So, when imposter syndrome starts to take hold or I am stressing out about some upcoming thing I am doing that I haven’t done before, I talk to her, my bestie, or both! As @rschroeder mentioned, a lot of times the best help is just talking to someone who will listen.

From: EBeach

Part of this new world we live in and working from home I get the privilege of stepping away and walking the dog. Being in an apartment I do this 4 times a day and it is very relaxing. Living in AZ we are having great weather now, so I get some fresh air, cool weather and get the eyes away from the computer screen.

Today, I tried...

“Been there, tried that” could have been the alternate title of Danielle Livy’s post. She has used her pandemic time interestingly, if not always successfully, and through her blog we’re now able to vicariously experience the ups and downs with her.

From: EBeach

As a family we loved going out to eat. Even with the limited seating or outdoor that is allowed we are still staying away. We have been trying take out from our favorite places, but some aren’t doing very well at it. Those that have done take out before had the process down and food would be warm when I get home. Others, the food is cold when I get there. They still try to tell me 20 minutes and when I show up in 10 the food is ready and majority of the time wrong.


Post COVID since March 2020 life changed completely, initially a month of two things were fine but it kept on getting worse, everything around me had changed, life was monotonous but then i kept pushing it. Things were just crazy in India and it’s kinda scary to even step out, i then decided to start cycling, booked a bicycle online and somehow managed to assemble it lol. and since then every day i cycle for about 5-6 kilometers, it takes out the stress from you and i am enjoying it.

From: gfsutherland

New for 2020:

  1. Telecommuting for over two months! Nice!
  2. Telecommuting from my travel trailer in the campground I have a seasonal site in near the beach for 4 weeks straight... (awesome). @rschroeder (when this clears.... We are going to do a long road trip...)
  3. Finished my bar area
  4. Updated my deck.
  5. Enjoyed my summer.

Not All Introverts Heart WFH

Rebecca Smith, avowed introvert (“and proud of it!”) reflects on what she’ll be glad to return to once offices open up again; and at the same time reminds us labels like “introvert” are neither absolute nor homogeneous.


I must agree with you, I’m done and dusted.

I hate commute, i hate when i am alone at office on a Friday night trying to close the pending activities on my list, i hate it when i can’t find a table at lunch while i am in office, i hate if my cubicle isn’t silent when I am at work && i use to hate a lot many things - Maybe life was so busy that we never realized what we use to hate might someday knock at us and ask -> Do you miss me ??? You are god **bleep** right!!!!!! - i don’t think i hate those things anymore and indeed i am missing all the fun

From: tphelps01

I love WFH and do not miss the drive to work. Yes, some days I miss the people and the beautiful building that I work in with the perks that come with that building—cafeteria, awesome work out area, outdoor trails, Ferris wheel (yes, I did say Ferris wheel), even Thursdays Company social after work, etc. Some days I don’t miss those things. All we can do is try to make the best of what we have and where we are.

From: Rick Schroeder (rschroeder)

I can take it either way—working from home has proven a better return on investment, more cost-effective, for my employer. And it’s been better for me—I can eliminate ~7,300 miles of commuting and eat from the refrigerator for a fraction of eating at a restaurant. Plus, I can sleep later in the morning before starting work and get started on home projects & hobbies earlier after work. Truly, I get more work done for my employer, since I’m more likely to work longer from home. I think it’s a win-win for both sides.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I’d like to say Kim’s post was completely foreign to me—that none of the feelings she eloquently expresses resonated in any way. I’d like to say that. My bank account would like me to say it even more. And yet in all honesty, I cannot. Maybe you’ll fare better than me.

From: Sascha Giese (saschg)

It’s a problem alright...


From: KMSigma

This post sees me in personal ways, and I don’t like it. [...] In this time of quarantine there’s something about having a package waiting for you. Every day is like your birthday. It gives us something to look towards.

From: jeremymayfield

My wife and I are professional shoppers online. Not that we get paid, more so in our neighborhood. Only my vampire neighbor rivals us. I think my wife was awarded stock in Amazon and Apple for her commitment to keep all the employee’s kids in college. It doesn’t stop there. Do you know the freedom it brings to not have to buy dog food in the stores? I have a Chewy distribution center not more than 15 miles from my house. Walmart and Publix (grocery Store) deliver and so does Aldi. Aldi is crazy fast too, usually in a couple of hours. about the only thing we have not bought was Home Depot and Lowes items like lumber and or doors etc. We actually almost bought our car online, but I wanted to test drive first. I love not having to worry about going out. Not only because of Covid but more so, the crowds, crazy drivers, and us buying way more than we need. Prime Pantry and other resources deliver laundry soap, toiletries, etc. why stand in line. You can spend your time on a peaceful walk in the park or doing things you enjoy. I do not recommend over shopping online, but I would recommend it to get some time back in your life.

Taking PTO and Going...Nowhere

Even before the pandemic, staycations were standard fare for those of us with an excess of bills and a dearth of funds (or PTO time banked up). Nevertheless, Lisa Sherwin-Wulf’s transformation from seasoned traveler to expert staycationer is nothing if not impressive and comes with a range of suggestions both simple and helpful.

From: gfsutherland

@lmsherwin great points on PTO.... Time for yourself is critical in keeping balance in your life. This year was supposed to be a trip to the Outer Banks with my camper. (We’ve rescheduled.... TBD. @rschroeder if I do it.... I’ll send pix and details). I am fortunate that as I have a travel trailer(s) (yes two! I am hard core!) One stays on a seasonal campground site on the beach in Southern Maine (20 minutes from house!!!!!) and the other we go off and explore...(in the past couple of years, DC, Lake George, Myrtle Beach, South of Boston, Williamsburg VA...) It’s how I plan my PTO... can’t wait to hit the road.

From: allison.rael

I had a vacation planned for May this year. It was going to be my husband’s first time in Europe. I had everything meticulously planned out, where we were going on what day, what metro stops to get on and off at, Rick Steves’ recommendations for where to eat, the whole shebang. Well... you all can guess how that vacation went. I’ve been able to get a couple of staycation days in—it’s been nice to be able to sleep in a little bit, spend the day playing video games or working on a fun project. In a few weeks we’ll actually be taking a long weekend away at a B&B for our anniversary. We’re not going far—only about 20 miles from home. But I feel like those 20 miles are going to make a world of difference!

From: bobmarley

Personally I love ‘StayCations.’ Last summer I took a week off and put in a 50’ by 50’ rose bed for the wife. It was beautiful all summer and now for many years we can enjoy it. While it was work, it wasn’t my normal ‘work’ work so I found it quite enjoyable and relaxing.

All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

My fellow Head Geek Patrick Hubbard highlights an aspect of IT life not many in the “outside” world know about—and which even folks on the “inside” appreciated fully until COVID hit: our enjoyment of dressing up when we have the chance—as well as our appreciation of the chance to dress up itself.

From: EBeach

Before Covid hit we started a large WorkDay rollout that has already been in the works for over a year. There was no way we were going to put that project on hold with all the planning and money we already spent. This was the largest project in my organization’s history, and we did it during a pandemic. I know at least for me and my manager most days were spent in a Solarwinds t-shirt. I went into the office once since March, and with not many people there I did so in my Solarwinds Geek t-shirt.

From: mjperkins

Wday24_comment3_pic1.jpghile I thoroughly enjoyed @patrick.hubbard's essay, my experience has been a bit different. Since I left UUNET in 2004, I haven't worn many casual shirts. Work-wear has generally been button-down dress shirts and khakis or dress slacks, sometimes with jacket, tie, or both. As a result, I have UUNET polos that are still in great shape, and T-shirts that have never been worn. In fact, between wearing button-down shirts and slacks during the week and on Shabbat, Sunday is usually the only day I have to wear something more fun. I tend to wear chamois on colder days, or these guys on warmer ones, especially in-season.



From: gfsutherland

One of my Covid driven moments was when we had a really hard time with some users understanding some of our requirements for remote access (even with pictures). In our next TEAMS meeting I wore my most favorite SolarWinds t-shirt: “REPLACE USER, TRY AGAIN.” My team loved it.

How to Safely Entertain Guests During a Pandemic

Here at the end of the week we hear from Thomas LaRock—another of my esteemed Head Geek colleagues. For those who don’t know him, he’s a no-nonsense guy who gets right to the point. And his Day 25 post is no departure from this. With his trademark dry humor, he offers guidelines on how—and even if—you should welcome folks into your home during this period of the year when the urge to gather is almost overwhelming.


In case there is an big, open backyard: yup we can ask our friends to come over provided with the existing safety measures which you just did mention.

  1. Mask
  2. Sanitizer
  3. Possibly gloves on hand would also help.
  4. We can definitely maintain a safe distance over a round table conference
  5. A beer and a snack (maybe while we use a throw away plate and a bottle that can be discarded - for each of them).
Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C