Pandemics, projects and GTD

So, I had initially started a post about working from home a few weeks ago. I was almost finished with it and was doing a little cleanup/editing, then the world kinda went to shit. Looking back, it was a pretty tone-deaf post, so I'm likely just scrapping it. It's a shame, since there was some good info in there. I'll likely have to repackage it so that it can be repurposed in another form, so not all is lost.

It's been a wild ride (for most all of us, I'd assume) for the past several weeks, so here's what's going on with us.

Trapped? Nahhhhh

Like my post originally said (that was abandoned, never to be heard from again), I'm used to working at home. The general call for everyone to WFH from work was no big deal for me, although it did disrupt some of the upcoming meetings that I would need to travel for. I already have a dedicated office at home that I use daily, so it wasn't a big change for me at all. My wife and kids, however, had some adjustments that they definitely needed to make.

My wife is a teacher, so preparing e-learning projects for her classes are nothing new. Preparing e-learning projects for her classes every day for the next several months IS, however, a new thing. Being an art teacher, adapting projects that would typically rely on some kind of supplies (that kids may or may not have at home currently) is quite difficult. I'm not sure that there's a good way to have students make art pieces, not on the computer, in any capacity at this point. Since there was such a short amount of time between school being open to closed, this is especially strange for her.

The boys just have no sense of structure. I'm sure that it almost seems like a mini-vacation to them. Their e-learning assignments aren't designed to take up a whole day, and there are few teachers that facilitate any in-depth discussions like you would typically have in a classroom. That leads to an almost minimal amount of effort put out towards the fragile assemblage that could still kinda be considered to be "school."

As parents, it's good that we are still yelling at them reminding them to practice proper hygiene, put on actual clothes, and not play games all day long. It's a start, I guess?

What I'm working on

I always have a ton of projects going on, but I never actually lay them out in any logical way. Since everything requires a bit more planning right now (no quick trips to the store to pick up supplies), it's good to actually see most everything in one place.

Office cleanup

Not just cleaning up, but re-doing a bunch of things really. I already replaced my main monitor stand that was half-broken and sagging with a new rigid one. In the process, I took down the LED strips (that I use for backlighting) and am slowly replacing them with WS2812B (Neopixel) strips, controlled by a NodeMCU board. This will give me the ability to actually choose what color lighting I want to use instead of using the preset colors on the dumb RGB strips I was using. I can also control it via the interwebs, so it's easier than trying to find the remote that I always lose.

I already use an occupancy sensor to determine if there's actually a presence in the room (via Node Red/Home Assistant), and now I have the backlighting tied into that as well. The new strips are actually more responsive than my smart plug that I have running on the same script. MQTT local polling is great. I'll need to do some tweaks to get the plug to respond as fast, or likely swap it out for a plug that uses MQTT as well in the future. For now, I can probably deal with the 1 second delay.

Dining room workspace

Everyone at home ALL THE TIME now means that everyone needs an actual workspace. The couch or the kitchen table isn't gonna cut it. Since I already use the dining room table as a makeshift makerspace (seriously, it's almost taken the whole HUGE table over at this point... whoops), might as well get everyone working in there.

In the past, the wife's desk was just a place to pile things. NO MORE! It's all cleaned off and we're going to move things around to have a few actual empty, flat surfaces that people can work. This will greatly benefit both the wife and the little kid. I'm sure we'll still be moving things around for the next few weeks to see what works, so at least things will be cleaner in the meantime.

Actually, the big kid already had his workstation in the dining room that we're reorganizing... so we're already in-process of moving his stuff up to his room. I've got some in-wall wiring to do for networking left to finish, but it's mostly done. He'll get more privacy, and we won't have to listen to him talking to his friends on Discord, and while he plays games. That's a definite win-win for everyone involved.

Bathroom remodel

Awhile ago, we started tearing up our bathroom/laundry room to reorganize it a bit differently. We took one door and flipped the orientation, and I framed in a pantry where the original entrance to the laundry room once was. (Our kitchen is in serious need of more storage space). The original laundry room/bathroom were both odd configurations, since the bathroom was an add-on to the house.

One knocked out wall and framed pantry later, here we stand. I've still got unfinished floors, half-drywalled walls, a construction trash bin and tools all over, BUT, it's still functional at this point. And it will need to stay that way for the foreseeable future with everyone at home right now. This one will be a slow roll to get finished, but I guess there's no rush.


Despite the weather still being pretty much garbage, I'll need to face the fact that it's going to start getting warmer outside soon. Which means that the outside work will need to start as well.

Typically, this isn't a problem and we would try to wrap up any inside project by this time and shift over to mostly outside things, as weather permitted. We'll have to see how that goes this year due to the stay-at-home orders and the fact that I have no brakes on my truck currently. Can't drive to pick up large supplies really anyway, so I'm not worried about it. YET.

I have a feeling that we're going to get hit with a ton of things to do outside, due to the weird winter we had. Yard cleanup alone is going to take several weeks. There are lots of downed branches from heavy winds and both our side yard and front yard are still pretty torn up from excavating to work on our sewer/drainage stuff in the winter. Lots of flattening, smoothing, raking, and planting grass coming up soon. My back already hurts thinking about it.