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Quarantine Diary – Eleventh day, August 10th, 2021: My subconscious is telling me something, finally going home, anticipations vs plans

Today is the 11th day I spend in this quarantine facility. I couldn’t sleep properly last night because I keep having this weird, singular thought, which is not exactly hope, that tomorrow may really be the day. It is not hope because it doesn’t capture and direct my mind towards these images of what I think will happen, at least yet. Instead, the sleeplessness comes from a single thought: that tomorrow may be the day.

My subconscious is telling me something

Of course, I have tried my best to not submit to its claws, because I know the moment I let these images that so naturally follow such a thought into my mind, it would be too late. My mind would be already subjugated. However, I think my subconscious was clearly trying to tell me something. It’s saying so by projecting that single thought to the conscious mind. Sometimes, forcing yourself to look away from what you should consider is something so fatally wrong that your subconscious torments you all night.

Finally going home!

Of course, I can only say that because I received the news from a medical staff this morning, at approximately 9 AM, that I will be leaving here today. It was as if the torment played on me last night served as a premonition to this moment. Who knows, my subconscious could have taken into account all the evidence (subconsciously) and produced a single conclusion that today is really the day. It also could have taken into account my miserable experience yesterday and decided not to overdo it with the messaging. All of that could have led to that singular thought that kept me up yesterday. And of course, as I’m no psychologist, these are only interesting explanations that I tell myself. This could all just be confirmation bias.

But what is true is that my heart is filled with joy. It beats faster and more excitingly as the reality of finally coming home hits me. During my morning shower, I can’t help but feel happy and optimistic. I once again started to visualize the moments before, during, and after my departure here and my arrival home. Except that this time they are not based on false hope.

Anticipations vs plans

My anticipations have become plans, and these plans carry an implicit meaning – the fact that one can formulate such plans with high certainty implies that one is in control of his or her environment. Planning implies an attempt to control. To plan is to implicitly realize that one can affect and change the situation. Those who possess the opposite mindset naturally rely on the universe, claiming that some hidden forces will make everything alright despite their inactions.

Even though they both are usually oriented towards a vision or a goal, the difference between anticipating and planning is in the recognition that one can move the situation forward.

Those who are merely anticipating are stuck at a point in time and space, desperately trying to visualize a better point at which they could have occupied. But they also instinctively know that such visualizations are incongruent with reality as they know it, so their hope is taken away. When hope is taken away, in this case by the mere awareness about their powerlessness with regards to the situation, and the situation is so undesirable that merely being in it produces distress, then one experiences despair. I have written about this previously.

Those in planning are in a position that naturally moves forward, albeit in a seemingly random fashion, and with their plans they’re trying to control such movement so that the flow of life will lead them to where they want to be.

Previously

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Unfortunately, since I’m home, my need for release out these thoughts is also decreased dramatically. As you may guess, this is the end of my Quarantine Diary – though I’m not exactly sure if it can be called a diary. If you have made it here, I’d like to express my thanks for your time and attention. Hopefully, you have learned something about me that you otherwise wouldn’t have, in which case the outcome of this series will be achieved.

Farewell, and until the next time, stay safe!

Quarantine Diary – Tenth day, August 9th, 2021: Free from anticipations, the absence of hope is not despair, we need to control any situation to a certain extent, getting retested unexpectedly, despair is when hope is forcefully taken away in a manner that induces despair, today is not the day

Free from anticipations

Today is my 10th day at this quarantine facility. Unlike yesterday, I am not plagued by the feeling of anticipation anymore. Because I was hoping for a happy ending, which would be me leaving here yesterday, marking the end of an otherwise distasteful week, now that that hope is gone, I feel a sense of relief. It’s as if I’m released from its grip around my neck which was so strong that kept me paralyzed and unable to focus on anything. My mind was filled with images about coming home, about what I was going to do, how I was going to start a new week, and about how a single phone call would have made all of that come true. Of course, such hope was squashed by reality, as hope usually does, either by my limited understanding of the procedure that this facility employs, or a time delay in getting the results that I had not considered.

However, now that I’m forced to discard my false hope, its weight is also lifted off my shoulder. It’s perhaps akin to the feeling someone with terminal cancer has once he’s accepted his mortality. It’s reassuring to know there’s no turning back to a time when a way out was still possible. Similarly, I thought that my situation was going to end perfectly, and now that I know that such a perfect ending is no longer possible. Unlike having terminal cancer, though, my situation is still going to end sooner or later. The common thing between me and a terminal cancer patient is that we are both forced to dispose of false hope.

The absence of hope is not despair

I used to think, just several days ago, that the absence of hope is despair, but I have since reconsidered. The absence of hope is not necessarily equivalent to despair, but instead, it can be a momentary state in which one feels at peace. That is, of course, until the next moment where hope once again appears and permeates every aspect of your existence, unless you have terminal cancer and an overwhelming amount of evidence dictates otherwise. If there’s something you can do about the situation, then I think hope is healthy. But otherwise, hope will grab you by the mind and direct your attention towards the things you want the most, despite you physically being unable to affect the situation. Such captivity leaves the mind with no resources to attend to other matters.

In this albeit impermanent moment, I feel a normal amount of anticipation and a normal amount of awareness that such anticipation may not be met. I feel no need to rationalize or provide justifications as to how my anticipation is grounded in evidence and known information, or how it is reasonable to anticipate.

Of course, I’m not going to deny my reasoning to my anticipation yesterday. It was due to imperfect information and perhaps unexpected events that my anticipation was off the mark, but it doesn’t mean that it was not well-founded. Like I said, a 50/50 odd of leaving home was pretty solid, compared to that of the previous days.

We need to control any situation to a certain extent

Nonetheless, once we hope for something, especially when we’re constrained in terms of information and resources to affect the situation, it’s going to get ahold of our mind. Our physical powerlessness with regard to the situation compels our minds to exert mental control over the situation. We can’t stand being completely vulnerable. This isn’t about being a tough shell or a snowflake either, it’s merely human nature that we seek to control any situation to a certain extent, even if such control occurs only within the mind. Someone commenting on concentration camps once said something similar: a man can be deprived of everything, except for his right to respond to the situation with his own will.

The mind only knows one way to exert control over things, it rationalizes and visualizes. Indeed, because I was unable to affect my situation in any meaningful way, in that I have no control over the test results or the procedure that would lead to my release, my mind was rationalizing and visualizing about what should happen if things were ideal. In doing so, it consumes resources that would otherwise be spent on other more fruitful activities.

Getting retested again unexpectedly

Today I was unexpectedly called out to get a sample again in the morning. I don’t know what it means, but my sister said that it’s possible that my test result was not conclusive and therefore requires another test to make sure. It is her opinion that this test is of a different nature and the result will be available immediately, which means that I’d probably hear about the result of both these tests today.

Despair is when hope is forcefully removed in a way that induces distress

I wonder about despair. What is it? It’s not simply the absence of hope, but the state of things in which hope is forcefully removed and great distress is present. The absence of hope doesn’t immediately imply despair. The absence of hope could be that impermanent state of peace I mentioned earlier, or it could be something else. Maybe you’re in a situation that is not exactly desirable, and you have certain hopes of how things should go. However, due to imperfect information, miscalculations, or unfortunate events, what you hoped for simply didn’t happen, but it also didn’t result in significant distress. That would still qualify as a situation absent of hope, but there’s no despair involved, only slight disappointments.

So despair seems to be that which follows when hope is forcefully taken away in a manner that induces great distress. It’s somewhat circular and I’m still not quite satisfied with this definition, but let’s leave that for later. On a different yet related topic, even as someone who has seen despair, I can’t help but think that sometimes hope is much more dangerous, especially the hope that slowly but surely takes hold of your mind and deprives you of mental resources for anything else. That’s the experience I had yesterday.

Today is not the day

It seems that today is not the day again. Nevertheless, I obtained some valuable information from the guy who lives in the living room. It seems that, if people are allowed to go home on a certain day, they will be informed in the morning to prepare their stuffs. In the evening they will be permitted to leave. This information should mean that the most important time of the day is actually in the morning, whereas I previously assumed that it was in the afternoon because that’s when the old lady who left here received the call to inform her about her departure. However, in retrospect, anticipating the phone call was neglecting the base rate. It might have been that the old lady had a particular connection to someone in the medical staff who would inform her via phone personally. Or it could be that the procedure changed when she left and now announcements are made in the morning only. The information I obtained today was from the old couple who was also allowed to leave today, so it takes more precedence over old information.

Previously

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Quarantine Diary – Ninth day, August 8th, 2021: A sexual fantasy, unhelpful people, the cost of visualizing happy endings, a strangling dangling hope

Today is my 9th day in quarantine. I can’t help but look forward to leaving here. If everything goes right, I can leave here today. After all, I was retested 2 days ago, so the results should be back by now, ideally. Today is Sunday, so leaving here today would allow me to start the next week afresh, which is a huge psychological advantage. I think that going home on Monday would somehow taint the week, even though the effect is probably negligible.

A sexual fantasy

I started having a sexual fantasy. A threesome, to be exact. Well, I guess that’s normal. I’m still a single man in his 20s after all.

Unhelpful people

I asked a medical staff who was checking the SpO2 for the room when I can get the results back. She replied: “When it’s available we’ll inform you”. That statement doesn’t provide me with any kind of useful information. She didn’t even tell me how long on average after which people get to hear about the results. She told me what I already know, that someone will inform me when I have my results back. Maybe I’m overreacting, but it’s a very uninformative thing to say because such information is too obvious. Of course, I will be informed when the results are available. What I wanted to know is if I can get the results back TODAY!

The cost of visualizing happy endings

Even though I tried to not fall prey to imagining and visualizing the moments before, during, and after when I get to go home, I failed at that task today. The concept of hope has obtained a gripping form and it’s aiming for my neck.

I’ve been unconsciously looking at the phone because I know that there will be a call that makes that puts an end to my days in this facility. I know that it usually takes 2 or 3 days for the results to get back, so it may not be today. Yet, there’s a 50/50 chance of coming home today. Still, I can’t help but be held captive by the belief that today may really be it!

The odds were almost to the point of nonexistent previously, so it makes statistical sense to have more faith in today. But, If I recall correctly, the old lady who stayed in my apartment said that she was here for 10 days before she left. If my memory is correct and that was true, the evidence would point to me leaving here tomorrow, not today, which would be disappointing.

I don’t exactly remember the specific time when that old lady was called to inform me that she was going home, but I remember that she was told that she would leave around 4:30 PM to 6 PM. As the day is drawing near that block of time and I haven’t received a call yet, hope is certainly beginning to strengthen its grip upon me, making me feel more suffocated and desperate.

A strangling, dangling hope

Hope has been strangling me until I can no longer concentrate on anything else but the fact that I’m holding on to it. I have to place the phone within my field of vision so that I will not miss the call if it ever comes, which is a rational thing to do considering that my phone seems to malfunction and there’s no ringtone on an upcoming call. But the same phone, staying in peripheral, also keeps drawing my attention as I’m trying to read a book. I can’t help but anticipate and visualize that call that will put an end to all of this. I can’t put the phone out of my sight either because I can’t still rule out the possibility that a call may come and I may miss it. When you feel powerless and have to rely on something trivial as a phone call, you feel desperate. That’s what I was trying to avoid from the beginning, but unfortunately, it seems like I lost that battle today.

As it is 6:30 PM, and seeing no sign of people leaving the building block that I live in, I can at least be certain that today is not the day where people can go home, assuming that the facility release people in flocks instead of separately. That means that it’s most likely tomorrow. Tomorrow is Monday, and I have a meeting with the marketing team on Monday which I have skipped for 2 weeks. I feel uncomfortable skipping another one. Regardless, reality dictates that I won’t be going home today.

Previously

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Quarantine Diary – Eight day, August 7th, 2021: Being drawn to the darker aspects of life, despair happens once or twice, the immortal Pheonix

Today is my 8th day in this quarantine facility. I woke up to the sound of someone knocking on my door. I’ve been living in a small room, separated from the common area of the apartment that I share with 6 other people. The apartment has 3 rooms, one in the living room or the common area, one with its own toilet and the other is where I live in. The knock on the door was to signal that breakfast is here. In this facility, breakfast is served usually around 7:30 AM. Today feels like a slow day, probably because it’s Saturday.

Am I drawn to the darker aspects of life?

I wonder why I’m so gravitated towards the darker, subterranean aspects of life. Is that sentiment even correct? No doubt, there was a time, particularly when I first read HakoMari – my favorite novel, that I thought I was in constant despair because the novel depicts despair in such vivid images that I identified with. However, as time goes by, I slowly came to realize that these moments of despair are, in truth, only part of everyday life. If my life was made into a movie that only displays the events that I went through from another person’s perspective, it’d be a third-rate movie at best. That is to say, my life is not dramatic at all.

However, subjectively, some trivial events, such as my first heartbreak, or my first academic failure, left permanent marks on my psyche, changing my behaviors and forming parts of my personality. But fewer and fewer events have these characteristics with time. Fewer and fewer events come to define me. Gradually, even during the most difficult and troubling times in my life, I can’t help but think “this too shall pass”. It’s a testament to its triviality.

“This too shall pass”, they say, and I believe this to be true. I saw with my own eyes that even the most painful and intense feelings fade away. Some of them leave behind a hole in my soul that perhaps will forever be there. Yet, as Tupac says, life goes on. Despite all the tragedy that I suffered which I didn’t think I would have recovered from, life goes on mercilessly. It doesn’t wait for anyone. Desperately trying to get on with life, these tragedies and sufferings of mine slowly but surely get washed away by the sand of time.

But in that outlook, there’s also some sort of hope. There is no despair that cannot be trivialized by the flow of life. No doubt, there are people who cannot recover from tragedy, plunging into their own self-destruction and perhaps the destruction of people around them. But for me who has returned from staring into the abyss, I can safely say that nothing will ever truly break me, not anymore, at least. A sentimental me would say that it’s because I’m already broken, but a more holistic me would deny such a sentimental judgment. But, it is true that since I’ve already experienced despair (in my own estimation of course) and walked away from it transformed, I can testify to how the flow of life makes all that comes after trivial. Despair is that mechanism of the flow of life that renders all that comes after it trivial.

One intuitively understands that some events affect people in a deep and profound manner, such that permanent behavioral or personality changes will take place. These changes are in no way trivial, yet they are few in number. As dramatic events define and reshape you, a sort of rigidity starts to appear, meaning that you start to get less and less affected by later dramatic events. One’s nature is perhaps shaped by that which dramatically happens due to the particular environment, personality, and upbringing that one has. In my opinion, the most profound and impactful events often induce despair.

Despair happens once or twice

Despair seems to be a state that you can only be in once or twice in your life, and definitely not a frequent occurrence. There are roughly three ways I can see someone getting out of it. Either you get out of it by denying and rationalizing the despair away, telling yourself not to think of it, or that it only affects other people. Or you fall prey to its malevolence and eventually take your own life, in the process possibly destroy other people’s lives. Or, you incorporate it. You stare straight into the abyss, you don’t divert your eyes away from the sufferings, and you accept it all as part of yourself.

Amidst the spiraling down which perhaps ends in insanity, you still have to accept everything presented to you. It’s not even correct to say that you have to maintain your sanity, because I don’t think that’s possible when it comes to despair. It’s more correct to say that, despite losing your sanity, you must not avert your gaze. You have to look at all that is presented, the ugly things about yourself, about other people, and about the world. You have to take them all in, chew on it, think about it, and never once lie to yourself that these things are not real. Only after accepting and incorporating the despair that necessarily accompanies the abyss, you can walk away from it a better-integrated person.

The immortal Pheonix

I’ve always associated with the image of the Pheonix. The immortal bird that flies through the sky with fire coming out of its wings and entire body. Eventually, there comes a point where the fire is too intense that the Pheonix burns itself to ashes. But, from the ashes, the Pheonix re-emerges again, into a transformed being, now capable of withstanding the fire it once couldn’t handle. The Phoenix never truly dies, its death only means transformation.

I’ve always found such a creature appropriate. I identify with it because all my life I’ve always been drawn to transformations, in me and in others. Whether it’s work, productivity systems, or relationships, I’ve always been striving towards a more transformed state of being. I’ve always been willing to [[Manage risks intelligently#^3db41f|discard the insufficient parts of me, letting them burn off like deadwoods]], so that progress can take place. Especially in relationships, this means letting go of someone I loved but don’t think we have a future together. Even though these tough times, I have not once regretted my decision. Yes, I would say that’s another of my strong suits, I don’t regret decisions. I think all the mistakes and all the sufferings I cause for me and for other people are all inevitable, seeing that learning from them makes me a better person. If I were to regret and deny them, I would be, in effect, denying the person that I am today, and that is one thing I will never do.

So am I drawn to the darker aspects of life?

So is it correct to say that I’m gravitated towards the darker, more subterranean aspects of life? I’d say that I’d love to see the darker sides of human beings, the moments of despair, the ugly parts that they want to hide from the world. Why? Because I am drawn to transformations, and it is in the metaphorical death and destruction of oneself that transformation is most possible. The best kind of transformation is so great that they require people to give up what they are, for what they will become. So it’s not entirely correct to say that I’m gravitated towards the darker aspects of life. It’s only a means to an end, it would be better phrased that I am drawn to transformations that often are only possible in the presence of the dark sides of human beings.

Previously

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Quarantine Diary – Seventh day, August 6th, 2021: Getting retested, thinking about risks, a crisis at work contained, a nice doctor, a good friend, rightfully hopeful

This is the 7th day I spend at the quarantine facility. I asked the medical staff who came to visit the room and measured the oxygen saturation level and it seems that people usually get tested in the morning. The first step to going home is getting retested, so I was looking forward to that today. I don’t know how it works, but I suspect those who will get tested will be informed and gathered in a focused space downstairs? Of course, it’s only a guess, and they may as well go room by room, which means it simply is not my turn yet. I am kinda frustrated at this point because the medical staff mentioned that it usually takes 8 days before I can get re-tested. This means that I may have to be here for at least another 3 days, taking into account the 2 days it takes for the result to get back.

Getting retested

At 10 AM, the medical staff finally come and get me retested. So it means that they go door to door to collect samples instead of gathering everyone up downstairs. It’s lucky that I considered such a possibility and didn’t get overly frustrated. This is considered a win of the week since it means that I am getting closer to going home. Of course, there’s always the possibility that my covid situation is still contagious, but it’s very unlikely. The reason is that I know I’m fully recovered, empirically speaking. For comparison, every breath I took last week was difficult and I could not really yawn at all because it hurt so badly. Now, I can breathe deeply and can yawn without any trouble. I don’t exhibit any symptoms of Covid anymore, so unless the lab makes a mistake, or that there’s a procedure that involves multiple tests, I’m almost guaranteed to go home in the next few days. From listening to an old lady who went home on my second day, I know that they will call your phone to inform that you’re ready to go home, so I know what to expect.

Thinking about risks

To be completely honest, my biggest worry right now is the lab messing up the results. I do not want to be here for another week just because of someone else’s mistakes. I do however realize that’s a rather pessimistic way to look at things. [[People tend to overestimate risks and underestimate opportunities]], but this is a situation where there’s hardly any opportunity to be gained, so it makes sense to think about the risks first. If someone says that I should take this opportunity to re-evaluate my life or read new books, I’d smack that person in the head so badly that they will go right back into their moms’ wombs. But anyway, I’ll try to not be obsessed about that possibility, but I’m sure that thinking about it ahead of time would definitely reduce my frustrations if it were to actually happen. Not that I wish it that it would.

A crisis at work contained

Another good news is that one of the crises yesterday has been contained. After checking the extension this morning, I realize that the latest version is still in draft, which means it’s not published yet. I went ahead and published it, and several minutes later the long-time user emailed me to say that she could successfully load the test suites and the situation is resolved. One crisis contained, yay!

A nice doctor

For several days a woman has been calling me to check up on my health. She’s part of the program called “Companion Doctors” which is supposed to provide emotional and medical support to Covid patients. It seems that she’s tasked with aiding me in my recovery. She has a soothing voice and a nice demeanor that you’d expect from a doctor. The conversations with her were very pleasant.

A good friend

Today I also talked with a friend who checked in on me. I very much enjoyed our conversation, partly because I got to rant about many things, partly because human connections are nice. It feels good to know that someone thinks about you and therefore checks in on you. Even though our conversation was normal, I appreciate it a lot. I’ll check in on her more frequently when I leave here.

Rightfully hopeful

I wonder what hope is. If you think about it, the statement “I hope …” expresses a desirable future. One way to think about hope is just laziness and entitlement. We often say we “hope that everything is going to be okay”, to ourselves or to others, without actually doing anything. Even though I don’t do anything, I feel entitled to a future in which things go according to my will. That’s laziness and entitlement. Or perhaps these people think that all the other good deeds they have done up to that point in their lives should accumulate to make their desired future a reality, despite the fact that in this particular situation they have done nothing. Or perhaps, they think they can’t affect the situation in any meaningful way? That would be my guess. I think I’m the same too, in that I do hope for a happy ending (from time to time before I try to squash it) without being able to directly affect my covid situation. I certainly got better, but the procedure that this facility and the government enforces is outside of my control. Am I lazy and entitled to have such hope? I guess, in a sense, yeah.

Of course, not everyone is like this, which leads to another way to think about hope. It’s an expression of humility. If we have tried everything in our power to resolve a situation, we can only hope for the best. The humility here is in admitting that there are things that we cannot control, no matter how hard we try.

Those who did nothing and those who did everything can both have hope, but only one group can be rightfully hopeful. So what is hope? hope is an expression of the idea that your desired future may not be within your control. Without hope, people are in despair or deluded. But hope alone is not sufficient either since it can also be used as an excuse by lazy and entitled people (like me?).

Those who do not have hope are either in despair or deluded. They are in despair because, without hope, they do not believe that the desired future is possible, and hence anything they do or don’t is rendered irrelevant. The only other way they don’t have or need hope is because they believe that their actions will undoubtedly bring about the desired future. In reality, no such guarantee is possible. This is pretending to be god, and so the person who pretends to be a god is deluded. On the other hand, those who do have hope can either be lazy entitled assholes that do nothing to contribute to the situation, or they can be humble people who have tried everything in their power yet admit that the key that brings about their desired future may not be in their hands. Only such people can be rightfully hopeful.

Previously

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Quarantine Diary – Sixth Day, August 5th, 2021: A meaningless thought, A well-intended action that is not helpful, the allure of visualizing happy endings, the annoying piece of audio, crises at work

Today is my sixth day in this quarantine facility. I start to settle on a routine, which is late and should be ephemeral at this point, but well a routine is as routine. I wake up at 6:30 AM, which is way earlier than I would have at home. Breakfast comes at 7:30 AM. I’d take a shower at 9:00 AM, and then open my laptop and start reading HakoMari. There are 7 volumes so it should keep me entertained for a while. Yesterday I finished 2 volumes already. I must say, savoring it until now was not a waste of time because reading it again is so much fun. I’m sure I wouldn’t have this kind of fun if I had read it every now and then.

There was some light rain today, but it soon dried up and the sky was back to normal. I was worried for a second that the clothes I hung out to dry in the shared balcony may get wet, but they turned out to be fine. More accurately, they’re still wet from being washed, so the rain wouldn’t have done anything anyway.

A meaningless thought

Today I thought about a conversation. In that conversation, a girl asked me for something that would ward off her boredom. I gave her the link to HakoMari, which is still my favorite light novel to date. She most likely didn’t read it. But it’s not like the conversation was subliminal thought that more people should read my favorite light novel. I think her presence is only conveniently summoned as we just spoke the other day. Plus, she did ask that question in the past, and I did introduce her to HakoMari – which is what I happen to be reading now. In other words, there was no deeper meaning to such a fleeting image, other than a way that my brain made sense of random information. Not everything has deep meaning, sometimes our brain is just bored and seeks stimulations.

A well-intended action that is not helpful

Today, like yesterday, someone brought me some medicine. I guessed it’s from the friend of my auntie who’s the vice president of this hospital. While I am grateful for these intentions, his actions do not seem helpful to me as I don’t need medicine. I am already at my physical best, and what I need right now is to go home.

The allure of visualizing happy endings

I notice this attraction to think about what it feels like when I finally get to go home. Every now and then I’d feel the temptation to visualize it, down to the very last moment of the day where I will be released. It’s only been 6 days in here, so this is not a fair comparison, but I imagine that this is a temptation that prisoners often face, unless they get a life sentence.

Maybe it’s a bit pretentious to equate my current situation to that of a prisoner, but only in this tendency to visualize the ending that I think there’s any similarity. However, my first instinct upon noticing these mental images is to discard them. Why? Because I think all they will provide me with is a sense of false hope. Allowing visualizations of these things tricks my mind into longing for them every day, despite knowing that they won’t come anytime soon. People tend to become desperate when the things that they long for don’t come. Desperation is miserable because it captures the mind and fills it with rationalizations as to why our hopes don’t come true. It doesn’t stop with one specific hope either, but the natural tendency of the mind to abstract will soon make it question even the concept of hope itself. Once the concept of hope is criticized and deconstructed, it still won’t be over, as the mind is so primitive that criticizing and rationalizing it won’t make it go away. What is left now is a type of hope that one doesn’t believe in but nevertheless maintains due to necessity. I think such a scenario is, without a doubt, miserable. Therefore, from the very first day, I have tried to prevent myself from thinking too deeply about the end of all this, so as to avoid drowning myself in that false hope. That way, I can wake up to another day in this facility and not feel tremendously and unreasonably let down.

The annoying piece of audio

Did I forget to mention that there’s a piece of audio that gets played every day? It always starts off with a parody of an old, popular song. Then a guy starts to narrate how bad the covid situation is and then goes into some rules and regulations that you should follow to help people who are fighting on the front line. The first few times are fine, but it became annoying when it’s played multiple times a day every day. For the love of God, we all get the message. This is bordering on propaganda. Just give people some flyers and be done with it. Sometimes they mix it up by replacing the male voice with a female voice. What a change, what a twist!

Crises at work

Today I had three crises at work. A developer told me about a bug that was reported on the forum. It seems that users cannot open a test suite created from an earlier version in the current version. The developer told me that likely the user tampered with the file so that the app cannot parse it correctly. When I went into my mail, there was a long-time user who emailed me 2 days ago about a problem she was having. Essentially, she could not load all her test suites properly, and there’s a mismatch in terms of the versions she observes between Chrome and Firefox, which she thinks may be causing an issue. Yet another user emailed me, although this one is less urgent, about an issue with the command-line runner. It seems that the installed ChromeDriver was not matching the actual Chrome browser.

To provide an analysis of the three situations: the reported bug seems like the user’s fault, but it’s also because we introduced a change in the way the app parsed the test suites recently without regard for such possibility. The resolution is to revert back to the last working mechanism. For the long-time user, I replied and asked if, since her last email, her Chrome browser has updated the extension to the latest version and if the situation is resolved because of that. For the user who had troubles with the command-line runner, I suggested uninstalling and re-installing afresh the command-line runner along with the ChromeDriver to see if that helps. All of that happens within 30 minutes. Talk about a crisis.

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Quarantine Diary – Fifth Day, August 4th, 2021: Trying to work and fail yesterday, People at work seem to think I’ll be out of contact for a while

This is the fifth day of my quarantine. I should have started journaling sooner, but for the past few days, I was still in the mindset of wishing some miracles do happen such that I get to go home today. Naturally, that meant I’d better not start any routine that might not last.

Trying to work and fail yesterday

I’ve finally decided to re-read HakoMari – my favorite Japanese light novels, and perhaps also my favorite among all novels in general. I lost track of the number of times I have re-read it over the years, but I know for sure that I haven’t done so this year, so this would be an interesting pastime. Of course, I only thought of such past time only after exhausting lying around, thinking about random things, and trying to work. Although, this very writing means that these random thoughts may not have been exhausted.

After trying to work yesterday, I came to the conclusion that the current situation isn’t optimal for work. The 4G internet connection is too low and unstable, reducing the willingness to search for information and feedback, as well as leaving no possibility for online meetings. Without fast feedback and information, work becomes very tiring. Without meetings in which you can interact in real-time with other people, difficult work just cannot be done. My work as a product manager requires collaboration, so the lack of it is, to say the least, discouraging. Of course, you can say that it’s a symptom of nowadays youngsters not being able to survive without the internet, and I would concur, although I think there’s nothing wrong with requiring the internet to work. Another factor that prevents effective work is lightning, it’s too goddamn bright in this room that my mind often goes blank, though I suspect this is only a temporary blockage.

I guess you can be clever and flip it to declare that this quarantine time is perfect for deep work. That’s certainly an interesting thought and one that I had entertained, but reality showed me that merely having the time to think didn’t contribute much to the output. One also needs adequate resources to facilitate such deep work.

Another reason that I couldn’t work as effectively as I wanted is a psychological one. I had already recovered even before they put me into the facility, so I am frustrated that a healthy young man is being kept here against his own will. Hopefully, in another 2 days, they’ll test me again and let me go home.

The government needs to be more flexible in my estimation. Who locks people in a facility after they had already recovered from the illness? Not to bash the government’s genuine efforts to contain and control the pandemic, but there should be a system in place that tests and releases people regularly. Cadence, people, cadence! Don’t the government know anything about product management at all? (Of course, they don’t). Another person who really needs to be quarantined could have been here in this room instead of me. I feel like a waste of space.

People at work seem to think I’ll be out of contact for a while

Back to work, a funny thing is that everyone seems to think that I will be out of contact for a while. I guess it makes sense considering that last week I already told everyone that I had family business to take care of so I did not attend any meeting for the whole week. This week I also won’t attend any meetings because the 4G is not strong enough. The more senior members started to talk about what the team would do if they lose contact with me, which is a bit too farsighted, in my opinion. Well, not that I don’t understand their worries, they have a company to run, so risks must be evaluated and contingencies must be made.

lus, to those who haven’t caught Covid yet, the information exposed to them usually features people dying or dangerous complications, it follows that people have an impression that Covid has a high mortality rate. I think that’s true only for the more senior members of the society, but I can see how that impression may be generalized across the population. But, I try to work whenever I can, it’s just that I can’t attend meetings.

Next up:

Imposter Phenomenon

We should use the term Imposter Phenomenon, because it takes into account the multi-dimensional complexity associated with the phenomenon. Rethinking it as such allows us to escape from the individualistic mindset and examine the concept from multiple levels.