Wednesday, August 19, 2020

If you long for the good old days, go to the back section of your newspaper (digital or paper) and check out the horoscopes and advice columns. Today in the Orange County Register, Dear Abby has advice for a wife frustrated with her mother-in-law, while Heloise has a tip on recycling jars. Capricorns are told it’s a good time to travel. Dear Amy in the L.A. Times fields a touchy question on dinner party introductions. Huh? Are they recycling last year’s columns?

Some things never change. Orange County Register, Wed. Aug. 19, 2020.

My favorite horoscope this morning is Libra’s in the Times: “Your ability to read the room and adjust to suit your audience will put you ahead of the competition.” In an era of performance without feedback, of Zoom theatricals and instant streamed conventions? All you Libras will need to get your forecasts elsewhere today.

In this year of transition I often find myself trying to guess which changes will last, and which are just here for the pandemic. Horoscopes and advice columns aren’t gone. They’re thriving on websites and internet newsfeeds. The ones in the newspapers? Dinosaurs. Breakfast table relics of days gone by.

Yesterday I might have predicted that big-city offices were relics too, but an article in today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is expanding its office space, planning to add thousands of office jobs in six cities, including New York City and San Diego. This would seem to be against the trend. But an attached video states that 82% of corporate leaders plan to have at least some of their employees work from home. Some office buildings are being retrofitted into a “hybrid” of work and home work spaces to optimize health safeguards. Adjustments like spacing between workstations might change again after a vaccine is available, which others, such as improved ventilation and air filtration, would be permanent.

Going along with the growth of hybrid offices is an increase in home sales as some people can now move away from the big city centers. Home improvement sales in stores like Home Depot are increasing as well. Meanwhile rents (or in Los Angeles, rent increases) are decreasing during the pandemic.

“Hybrid” is a buzzword you hear not only in business but in education, where distance learning and campus learning seem to be merging into a durable combination. Like many changes, this was happening before, but now it’s accelerating even in the most venerable (i.e. resistant) institutions. “Hybrid” might also apply to businesses like Walmart which is growing its e-commerce business even as its brick-and-mortar stores are going strong. (WSJ).

Masked tune-up man: I’m guessing temporary. OCR Aug. 19, 2020.

On the other hand, here are some changes I think are temporary :

  1. Family reunions being postponed to 2021 and/or reconfigured on Zoom. (WSJ)
  2. Front-yard drive-by wedding receptions complete with pizza-to-go for the guests. (OCR)
  3. Streaming/prerecorded national political conventions.

But I could be wrong.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Amazon Bets on Office-Based Work With Expansion in Major Cities,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-bets-on-office-based-work-with-expansion-in-major-cities-11597741203

“See how Southern California house hunting reversed in a pandemic,” Daily Bulletin, August 17, 2020. https://www.dailybulletin.com/2020/08/17/see-how-southern-california-house-hunting-reversed-in-a-pandemic/

“Sales of pricey New York City apartments plunge as the suburbs become cool again,” Business Insider, August 8, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/nyc-apartment-sales-plunge-coronavirus-new-york-exodus-suburbs-connecticut-2020-8

“Los Angeles, Orange County rent hikes at 5-year low, CPI shows,” Daily Bulletin, Aug. 17, 2020. https://www.dailybulletin.com/2020/08/17/see-how-southern-california-house-hunting-reversed-in-a-pandemic/

“Walmart Flexes Its Scale to Power Through Pandemic,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/walmart-flexes-its-scale-to-power-through-pandemic-11597750961

“Traditional, yet not, Pakistani reception in Tustin honors newlyweds in ‘coronavirus compromise’ ” Orange County Register, Aug. 18, 2020. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/08/18/traditional-yet-not-pakistani-reception-in-tustin-honors-newlyweds-in-coronavirus-compromise/

“Family Reunions Regroup Amid Covid-19 Disruption,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/family-reunions-regroup-amid-covid-disruption-11597769069

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

2 thoughts on “Pandemic Day 162: What’s New

  1. Another great blog, Gail. There are good changes coming out of this.. someone in my Facebook feed said “can you believe we used to eat cake that someone else had blown on?!” Hoping we’ll be singing in choirs again someday, but maybe forego the birthday cakes..

    • Whenever we got ready to blow out the candles on our birthday cake, my dad always asked, “Is this really sanitary?” We blew out the candles and we all (including him) had some cake anyway. This year I blew out candles on Zoom. Maybe in the future we’ll have an individual cupcake for the birthday person to blow on.

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