Has the pandemic changed you?

May 14, 2021 • 1:00 pm

Almost everyone underwent some behavior or personality changes during the pandemic. How could it be otherwise, what with the solitude, the fear, the prohibition against doing many of our favorite activities, and so on?

Some will resume their lives without missing a beat, while others may be somewhat but temporarily traumatized, and still others may have their lives changed permanently, either by a new work situation (working at home), or a permanent personality or behavior change.

I don’t know whether the changes I’ve noticed in my own behavior are permanent, for only now are we getting back to “normality”, but here’s what happened to me.

a.) I got peevish and irritable, liable to snap at others for reasons that I wouldn’t normally consider. I didn’t turn into an ogre, but neither did I put up with bull that I would normally have tolerated. I hate this in me, and have been working to improve it. This could of course be age (some older people claim to revel in their ability to be jerks, blaming it on age), but it came on too quickly to be that.

b.) I got intolerant of what I saw as mindless chatter or palaver. If someone told me a story that ran on too long, or embroidered it with baroque details, I’d often say, “What’s the point?” or “Get to the point.” That, too, is uncharacteristic of me.

I heard from a psychologist that many people have these symptoms, so I don’t think I’m alone here.

c.) Loss of attention span. At the beginning of the pandemic I was able to spend four hours nightly reading a book. Now I have to work on two or three books simultaneously, and have trouble concentrating for more than 45 minutes on any one, especially on a book that requires thought, like Anthony Grayling’s History of Philosophy.

d.) This is the ancillary issue to c): it’s all too easy to turn to the Internet and waste hours of time. For example, I’m now reading a biography of Duke Ellington. Sometimes they describe one of Duke’s songs in a way that makes me determined to hear it. So I go to YouTube.  You know the rest: they suggest other songs, and then other stuff, and before you know it, an hour is gone and with it your reading time. Again, I hope the loss of attention span isn’t due to age, but its rapid onset and coincidence with the pandemic makes me think it’s all the stuff that happened in the last year.

e.) Extreme impatience. Example: I catch my sleeve or backpack on a door, and get angry about it. That’s just crazy!

These are just the first four things that have come to mind, and I’m writing this to share, to see if others have experienced the same feelings, or what other symptoms have manifested themselves.

And of course—though I’ve written about this incessantly—I am absolutely stir crazy and keen to travel. Poland, Antarctica, New Zealand, and Israel beckoned me, but the last is a no go now, and the rest haven’t yet opened up, though I have huge hopes of lecturing again on an expedition cruise to Antarctica.

Well, maybe next year. . .


106 thoughts on “Has the pandemic changed you?

    1. Yep.
      I didn’t feel guilty going out for a lunch run when I was in the office. Now I’m home, I feel like it’s cheating. Paradoxically, I also have the symptom of wasting more time on the internet. 🙂 I’m getting better with both though.

      I don’t see myself going back to the office, as my work is making this a permanent change. Overall, I like that. It’s just the getting used to it which is weird. Even after ~2 years, work from home still feels unusual. Old brain, new tricks…

  1. I don’t think the pandemic and its restrictions have changed me much, but then, the one easiest to fool is oneself (Thanks Feynman).

  2. I’ve gained weight and drink a bit more than I did before. I think I’ve gotten less willing to try to convince people to abandon stupidity on social media but I don’t know if I’ve gotten too cranky to bother or less cranky and willing to let stupidity slide.

    1. I have drunk less! Partly because I am usually a social drinker, & as I live alone I was not seeing anyone. I went about 12 weeks in one stretch without seeing anyone I know. I generally avoided buying booze as I knew I would go through it too fast. Got £15 bottle of whisky yesterday & one inch went last night. But it is not smooth – only 5 year old Lidl ‘Glen Orchy’.

      1. Before the pandemic I followed a rule to only drink when out to dinner or when visiting with friends. When the pandemic hit I felt it my duty to keep our local microbreweries in business, even if I had to do it on my own. 😉

        1. Well done! I was in Cromer for most of the year & supported them -microbreweries – via the farm shop, but I mean only a bottle or two a week, not exactly lots. The shop was losing so much money they closed. Not sure if they will reopen ☹️

    2. I’ve given on arguing with people on the internet, for the most part. It only gets me worked up, mainly. I don’t need that, especially after 4 years of Voldemort and his looming shadow (now).

      I usually only do it now when I think there are bystanders who may be influenced.

  3. I already spent the majority of my waking life in front of a digital screen, both for work and entertainment. That only got worse with the pandemic, of course, which I think causes short attention span and difficulty concentrating on a given task, and likely increases irritability.

    The pandemic also made me even more cynical about human nature and our species’ survival prospects.

  4. It’s hard for me to tell how the pandemic has changed me, since I was already pretty much socially isolated, don’t take vacations or otherwise travel, and am a grumpy git at baseline. It’s given me new reasons to be irritated at mass stupidity such as resistance to vaccination as well as absurd conspiracy theories, but those are not really new, and in some people I know, they actually seem to have regressed a bit. Also, my own stupidity is the thing that makes me orneriest, and that’s never been in short supply for as long as I can remember.

    1. As a USian, may I ask for a precise definition of the British expression (noun): “git”?

      I see it a lot and I have a vague idea of its meaning; but I would like a more precise one. Can you give some examples of American gits and why they qualify?


      1. I’m from the US, too, but I like the expression so much that I use it occasionally. I understand that “originally” it referred to a pubic hair, and thus was clearly derogatory. Apparently it’s become a bit more sanitized over time, because it was used extensively in the Harry Potter books, which are (nominally) for kids.

        It basically just means “jerk” roughly, perhaps slightly softer than “an asshole”. Most humans surely qualify as one from time to time and some of us more than others…

        1. Didn’t know about the pubic hair connection. I agree on it being more “jerk” than “asshole”. The Beatles famously used “git” in their song, “I’m So Tired”. They would probably have been censored if they had used “asshole” back in 1968 whereas, AFAIK, “git” is always acceptable, at least during my lifetime.

      2. According to my battered old Collins Concise Dictionary:

        git n. Brit sl. 1. a contemptible person, often a fool. 2. a bastard. [C20: from GET (in the sense: to beget, hence a bastard, fool)]

  5. I am pretty sure I was already as you described before the virus, so I cannot blame that on anything but me. At my age there is little left to change. I got the virus, got over it and then got the vaccination. I miss lots of places to eat around here and hope most of them open up again. I also hope the economy comes back and I think it has a long way to go. My nearly 102 year old mother in law died last month but she never got the virus. She just finally gave up and gave my wife a lot of things to do. When someone in the family dies it causes endless things that must be done.

    1. Sorry to hear about your mother in law. My Mom passed suddenly last May (not due to COVID, aged 84). I can fully second this statement: “When someone in the family dies it causes endless things that must be done.”

      On the bright side: It does actually end. But it’s pretty intense until then. Hang in there!

      1. After my parents passed away, I found that there were myriad details to tend to. So I made a list called When I Die for the family. There are at least 30 things on the list from who will need a death certificate to shutting down email.

        1. Yes, my parents are both still with us (Dad turned 90 last week) and I’m not looking forward to dealing with the admin when the time comes. Here in the UK there’s a scheme called “Tell Me Once” which apparently works very well for government and public sector agencies – you just inform one (e.g. the pensions department) and they will notify all the others (passport agency, driving licence, etc.) for you. Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent scheme for the private sector so you still need to sort out the banks, utilities, etc. one by one and many of these have bad reputations for not dealing with things expeditiously.

          1. One thing that my parents did that was much appreciated – pre-planned and pre-paid “final arrangements.” We were so impressed with the services provided that we decided to do the same for us when that inevitable day arrives.

            1. My parents had this too and it was super-helpful.

              Funerals can cost a fair bit (depending) and there is a long time lag between funeral and when the estate (if any) clears probate (funds become available).

            2. I should say, we will be cremated and scattered in the mountains of Washington.

              But we will still have a funeral and a wake (on our place) and cremation.

              1. It sound like our approaches are similar. We too have chosen cremation, but Colorado just approved composting as an option, so we may have to look into that. We have said that we don’t particularly want any obits or services, but obviously that will not be up to us 🙂

        2. I put together a list of all of our financial assets with contact information, etc.

          We already have detailed: Wills, advanced directives, and powers of attorney. My wife and I communicate so well and frequently, I don’t think other things will cause trouble.

          I found that the funeral home people were immensely helpful. My Mom also had an estate attorney, who, with his paralegal, were superbly helpful. My Mom was cremated but was placed in the family plot as well, which was pre-purchased. My Dad and my sister predeceased my mother.

          We will be handling things for my mother in law (now 85.5 years old). I worry a little about that; but she has almost no assets, which somewhat simplifies things. Having just been through this is also a help (in a manner of speaking).

  6. Perhaps it is simply the case that the enormously extended time frame which the lockdown made available to you for introspection, self-examination and self-criticism has intensified your focus on your characteristics, and that what otherwise would not have come to your attention has now been given clear contours.

    1. I think you have something there. It may have just removed the fire blankets of social nicety & allowed the inner person to be exposed…

    2. My depression returned with a vengeance. It has taken full control over my waking life again. I stopped going to the gym 6 nights a week so I’ve lost muscle mass and gained quite a bit of fat. I drink far too much, far too often and far too early in the day, as well as eat too much of the wrong stuff. My anxiety is always bad, but since social situations were few, that improved, until I had to work from home via Zoom and Teams, which brought it back. My shirts are sweat stained as usual again and now I obsess over the social protocols around mask wearing. I hate my job and my borderline poverty but fear changing. I can hardly read, which is, well, was, my main source of entertainment, can’t sit long enough to watch a movie in full, sometimes struggle with a 30 minute tv show. I don’t clean the house much, or fix anything. It looks every bit the white trash bachelor shack it is, which I find embarrassing but then I never have anyone over anyway. I do try to get out to take walks with the dog in conservation areas but even that feels like a burden. Likewise seeing family. It wears me out to keep up even the slightest of social interactions. I am happiest when outdoors in nature and far from people but the environmentally-induced elation lasts no longer than the trip. I fly into unbearable rages at the slightest things and take far too long to calm down, or start crying at the merest tug of the heartstrings but mostly I feel the empty pangs of hopelessness for a positive future. This was all in me at times and at varying degrees but it has been amplified to such a disturbing degree over the last year. COVID, Riots, mass shootings, rise in crime, the attempted coup, tRumpism, woketivists, the loss of my grandfather, the constant hate and outrage and plain old stupidity…it’s hard to feel like giving a shit.

      1. Christopher – this breaks my heart. I’m I have similar problems, although luckily for me milder in every respect. As a result I sympathise and empathise strongly. Can you get help? A doctor for medication, or a chat with a friend? I know all too well that depression robs you of the very ability to sort yourself out.

        No hate and outrage from me, just warm thoughts, wishing you well. Hang in there – this too will pass.

        1. I appreciate the concern. Depression has been a frequent spectre in my life since I was 15, anxiety since at least age 4. I have a therapist, for all the good it’s done me, no meds for various reasons but I may be at the point that I have no other option. The biggest issue is that if things in life don’t change or they get worse it’s difficult to make any headway in mental health issues. But there’s flowers in the fields again, and turtles among the trees, so that gives me some small slivers of joy.

          1. I will say this: I have several friends for whom anti-depressant medication was a life-saver. It gave them their lives back. And I have several close to me who are ADD and, again, the medication is a life saver. Night and day.

            I understand the desire to take as few medications as possible. I think we all feel that. But there should be no stigma attached to medications for mental health.

  7. I lost my sense of smell when I caught the virus. I suffered very little otherwise. I had a temperature of 101 F one evening and had to clear my throat each morning a bit more than usual. I was amazed at the total and instant loss of smell. It has since recovered but I still worry that it isn’t back to what it once was. Perhaps it never will be.

    1. It took me a month to get over the virus and a couple of days in the hospital. I have type II diabetes so that was suppose to be a problem although I don’t know that it was. It was a slow process for me, not nearly so for my wife who also had it at the same time. She said headaches continued for a long time after.

      1. Sorry to hear that though I guess it could have been worse. Glad you’re both past it.

        I’m 69 and overweight so had reason to be scared but I don’t have high blood pressure or diabetes so that helps. I’ve always thought my immune system is strong so perhaps this was demonstrated. It was a bit worse for my wife who is 9 years younger but it was no worse than a moderately bad flu. Still good to be fully vaccinated.

    2. We have a close friend who got the virus and was nearly hospitalized by it. She is still recovering her sense of smell, but she reports that she keeps getting wrong smells, such as from cigarette smoke when there really isn’t any. Weird.

      1. I have heard reports that many people who got the virus also got diabetes. That one is hard to understand.

        1. Not being a medical professional, I can freely posit from ignorance: a) many systems are damaged by this virus, and the pancreas would not surprise me as one, b) the diabetes was already present, but not yet detected (unrelated, in other words), or c) some other reason.

          With a set of options like this, I can’t really be wrong, I guess.

          I do have a family history of type 2 diabetes, and have been in control mode since I was about 40, and could see a moderate or hard case of anything breaking the control loop.

          AFAIK, I have not had the virus, all tests being negative over the last year, with me being much more careful than many in my area (they hold chicken pox and measles parties here. I think they’d hold smallpox parties if they could, but vaccines happen to work safely, so the option isn’t there) and a good dose of chance, but I have had several of the symptoms, possibly psychosomatic, possibly unrelated, including sense of smell.

  8. We live in a remote area of N. California and little has changed for us here. Habitually I will walk out of my car in town and get to the “mask required” sign and realize I’d forgotten my g. d. mask. Again. On Sunday I’m going to the “Big City” to visit a friend for the first time in more than a year. That’ll be interesting. He has felt the impact of isolation acutely, although he gets out on his bike almost daily.

  9. We love you even if you are grumpy like a grampus PCC[E] aka The Duckfather…

    A year ago I had a job, a year later & I am ‘retired’ all unplanned. I will finally move out of Lunnon for good this summer, probably in July. In person it is hard to know – I listen to the radio more. Still only have interweb via the phone so spend less time than I used to in front of a screen.

    Regarding reading, I was ruined as a reader when I became a student in 1996. Until then I started & finished a book. Study meant that was impossible & forced me to read multiple things & often only in part. I have certainly bought far fewer books – I hardly used Amazon all year & bookshops were not open very much. I have not really watched much TV at all.

    Others would have to judge if I have changed, but I do not think so. The only time I got depressed was in December to January when I twisted my ankle so badly that I could only hobble & was in pain all the time. It has taken5 months to heal pretty much.

    I am used to bring alone & living alone. Remember my favourite Conrad quote –
    “We live as we dream, alone.” 😎

    PS And “The Earth thanks you for not flying”…!

  10. On the negative side, I spend far too much time brooding over past regrets b/c I’ve spending so much time with just me myself and I. Some of those have been really getting to me.

    But I want to discover positive sides of this, at least for myself. I’ve expanded my range of photography subjects (I plan to share those soon). And the online class I was teaching before is now a really good online class. All the bells and whistles.
    Years from now, when this is hopefully a dimming memory, there will still be numerous reminders of this strange time. There is the home office I’d set up in the basement. An extra freezer.
    And does anybody need several boxes of latex gloves and several bottles of hand sanitizer?

    1. I have always had a bit of a stockpile of nitrile gloves in my shop (for keeping my hands clean of: Paint, solvent, caulk, silicone sealant, shellac, grease, oil, etc. — so much easier to not get it on the hands than to clean the hands afterwards.) This stood us in good stead in 2020.

      We will always stock masks now, I plan to wear them in stores during cold/flu season. I always used to think the Japanese were odd, wearing masks on the street. Now I don’t think that anymore.

  11. My attention span—already pretty limited under the best of circumstances—has also decreased over the past year. For me, it’s not just because of the pandemic; political drama and other news events also played a role.

    1. I hear you on the political drama playing a role in lack of focus! Sooooo happy not to see Trump’s ugly mug every day. Usually reading 4 or 5 books at a time, plus various periodicals, but probably with a bit less focus. Really looking forward to getting back to seeing my friends at the gym, doing zumba,etc. Thankfully we’ve been able to hike all along. Can’t wait to travel out west to see my as-yet-unseen 11-month-old granddaughter. Thank gawd for FaceTime. Been doing even more cooking than usual. Looking forward to live opera and concerts and restaurants.

  12. “[A]nd Israel beckoned me, but the last is a no go now” – a week or so ago, the British government put Israel on its “green list” of just 12 approved holiday destinations. The very limited list excluded popular locations like France and Spain but instead included unlikely places that you can’t fly to, with limited tourist accommodation, and little holiday appeal (the Falklands Islands and South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands seem to have been put on the list just to make up the numbers). Consequently, UK bookings to Israeli resorts were apparently very high. I just hope that the insurance companies don’t live down to their usual reputation for wriggling out of claims…!

    1. The Falklands are actually a very interesting holiday destination (although challenging to get there). We went there in the 1990s as volunteers on a project counting elephant seals on a beach in the Southern-most inhabited island of the Falklands. A lovely quiet place with interesting bird life and botany. I can recommend it providing you are not after night-life!

  13. The pandemic kind of made it possible for me to do my work without paying attention to various distractions that would normally have interrupted me.

    Like everyone else, I experienced a heightened flght-or-flight response at the prospect of having to do anything with other people in relatively close proximity, especially when it became clear just how deadly the virus could be for certain people, and the unpredictability of who those people were—healthy folks in their 30s and 40s dying in iCU, people in their 70s barely registering symptoms, making it all the more scary. But as time went on and we learned how effective masks were, how little danger there was from ordinary situations encountering other people when out of doors, and so on, the less common that fear response became. Mostly, the pandemic offered a chance to live in my own head with many fewer interruptions.

    What was especially interesting is that my wife, who is much more socially outgoing than I am, had a similar kind of response to pandemic isolation. She’s a fiber craftswoman, and found she had a lot more time to work continuously on her projects.

  14. Became “retired”. Around October of last year my boss had a major personality change and made my life miserable. the last few times I saw him, he would just scream incoherently at me. HR and his boss didn’t really do anything, so I quit to preserve my sanity. Not the way I envisioned things.

  15. I haven’t been shaving every day, and probably won’t go back to doing so.

    (Truth be told, I haven’t even been showering every day, sometimes opting for what the Italian guys in my neighborhood growing up self-deprecatingly used to call a “Guinea shower” in which you wash just your face and pits. I’m hoping to drop that habit.) 🙂

    1. Got somebody I’m seein’ — so, if this is your way of askin’ me out, buddy, sorry, but I’m gonna hafta sweep left. 🙂

      Not sure you’re my type anyway … you know, what with that whole Kansas thing. 🙂

  16. New Zealand awaits when enough people get vaccinated to make international travel safe again.

  17. Was already chubby, now even chubbier. I started out last summer with a plan to get into a proper at-home routine involving exercise, work, and dieting. It lasted less than a fortnight. I’ve become even more of a hermit; I’ve always been an indoors sort of guy, with exceptions for pubs and clubs, but without those I’ve just festered. And I think my social skills have atrophied, despite use of Zoom etc: the other day I got out to a newly re-opened pub and I was just…I don’t know, more awkward, slower, socially stiff with people in person.

    1. When folks were talking about gaining the COVID 19 pounds, I committed to losing 19 and succeeded! Feels good.

  18. Let’s see, I learned a lot about the virus and enjoyed reading Carl Zimmer’s articles on it in the NYT.

    I developed a real like for curbside shopping and will adopt that going forward.

    I don’t need to drive nearly as much as I thought. A tank of gasoline lasted nearly a year. I now question whether I need a car.

    I learned to make a full menu of Mexican food including corn tortillas and tamales, and assorted salsas and sauces.

    Wearing a mask never bothered me and I discovered I don’t need to go to the barber! I can cut my own hair well enough and nobody cares, anyway.

    I do miss international travel and look forward to returning to England and France in a couple of years.

    Other than that, I’m good to go. Oh, we got a puppy in February and life is much better with a puppy around! (Kink the Cat disagrees.)

  19. A quick household survey reveals that the rest of the family have had more time to notice my “annoying little habits”; they are unsure of whether I was previously just as irritating but had simply managed to get away with it in smaller doses! So, possibly no change after all…

    1. We have all had to take a more generous perspective on others’ annoying habits. I have done this very explicitly. “This is just the way they are, they are not trying to annoy me. Get over it.”

  20. Yes, the pandemic changed me, but it has more to do with everything else going on besides the pandemic. Since I have MS, I was extra careful to avoid the outside world. I had too much time to follow the news of what’s happening in our country. I had 2 or 3 books going at a time and I’ll tell you, none of them were fiction. Trump may have lost the election, but he’s hiding out in FL, waiting to re-emerge and pounce again in 2024. The events of January 6th sent me spiraling into deep anxiety. And, my MS flared (probably due to stress) and now I have tested positive for the JC virus which can cause a brain infection called PML. The odds of getting it are minute, but I can’t help but focus on it. On the slightly positive side, I DID purchase an e-bike and, weather permitting, I take long rides through the countryside in McHenry County. That seems to help. Ok, I’m done complaining. I’m going for a bike ride. Hang in there, Jerry. Same for everyone else.

  21. I kept working all through the pandemic. My employees kept working, as well. My business partner is immune compromised so she worked from home as best she could and came in after we all left. She’s now vaccinated and working normal hours. 🙂 The only thing that was different was that we all wore masks when clients came and bumped elbows instead of shaking hands. I missed going out to restaurants with my friends, but we all ended up cooking for each other at our homes. My friends are all incredibly careful and if anyone even suspected they were possibly exposed, they quarantined themselves. I visited a bit less with family members, but kept in touch. Pretty much everyone I know is now vaccinated. (except for one of my employees who is expecting a baby at the end of July). Things are slowly getting better. 🙂

  22. It has been nice (and often amusing) to hear from almost all the regulars today. Jerry, i think you have done amazingly well over the past year. I have noticed the same idiosyncrasies you mentioned in myself…lack of attention span, particularly in reading; a loss of patience..though my children would say that there really wasn’t much to lose. But overall having a very patient wife who has pretty much had to live in the same house with me 24/7/450(or however many days we have been pretty much locked down since march of 2020); a group of a half dozen other retirees who faithfully meet 4-5 days a week to walk a wooded trail around a lake; access to lots of books via amazon; and of course a daily dose of weit and its blend of humor, politics, science, and wit from jerry and so many regular commenters from diverse backgrounds. BTW, I had started reading Grayling a month or so before lockdown, but as my attention span shortened, found that reading sections of the book that i had particular interest in, rather than reading linearly and chronologically beginning to end, was an excellent way to keep my interest. I would refresh my knowledge of philosophers i was familiar with from college, but then Grayling allowed me to learn more about the world that they lived in and how they fit with earlier and later philosophers.

    Thanks for doing your best each day and thanks to the commenters during the past year.

  23. I am extremely introverted so I have never been happier or less stressed in my adult life. I dread getting back to normal whatever that may look like.

  24. Ironically, I am becoming more detached from my long distance friends than my local friends.

    The combination of the election and the pandemic has turned too many people (on both sides) into nasty, intolerant scolds on social media. I miss my family and friends them talking about their vacations, their children and showing what they are doing. I simply don’t want to hear them rant about masks, vaccines, BLM or Trump. I know what their political viewpoint and I know who they are going demonize today. Thoughtful, polite discourse is lacking.

  25. First of all, it’s hard for me to say because of other life-changing events that have occurred recently. I retired at the end of 2017, and so for two years before the pandemic I was transitioning to a different way of life, anyway. Then, in February 2020, our granddaughter was born. As she, her mother (our daughter), and her father live with us, that’s been a huge change and adjustment on its own terms. For the most part, however, it has been wonderful to see this little creature begin to grow up and to change each day to the next.

    But I think the big change I have begun to feel over these last years is that we take for granted how our lives are defined and constructed by the outside world. When I was working in an office, life was circumscribed by my job’s hours and responsibilities. Weekends meant something, as did vacations.

    But, now, every day is the same at home, but also every day is up to me, as well. It makes me think that the pre-pandemic, “normal” world is an illusion of definition and regularity. Living in less structured conditions makes me think back to the Existentialists and how it really is up to each individual to decide what to do with their lives.

  26. However grumpy and discombobulated PCC(E) may have been feeling, he has kept this website going, day in, day out, rain or shine, regular as clockwork…not to mention his daily duck duties. Good habits help to keep you sane, I guess. Thanks so much, Jerry.

    I have been retired for a few years, and my wife retired last year, the very weekend when Boris announced the first lockdown. So we have spent the past 14 months completely in each other’s company, for the first time ever, really. I have greatly appreciated and enjoyed the past year, and am looking forward to a whole lot more of it in the months to come – with added family, friends, choral singing, pub visits and Harlequins home matches. Things can only get even better!

  27. Jerry, have you an actual trip organised to the Antarctic?
    I thought you might be interested that the RRS Sir David Attenborough was built a half hour walk from here.
    It’s the one that carries the three autosubs, the leading one of which was famously and democratically christened Boaty McBoatface. It is also yellow as befits any submarine from Liverpool.
    We have a recent mania in Britain for naming machines by referendum:
    e.g. Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney for a gritter truck in Doncaster
    You can tell from this the sort of activities that the Brits have been getting involved in during lockdown!!

  28. The pandemic experience has made me appreciate the advantages of wearing masks and washing hands. Even after the pandemic I will continue these practices during the cold and flu season.

  29. I believe that I’ve become starved for human interaction. Couple of months ago I found myself in an elevator with a stranger who asked me what I was carrying. (It was a couple liters of bacteriological media.) I enjoyed explaining it more than expected and realized that it was just so nice to talk to somebody that I didn’t already know. I think we all need to prepare to tolerate people who won’t seem to shut up and to hope that others will do the same for us.

    1. Did the stranger react positively to your explanation? After hearing about the “bacteriological media” you were carrying, I would start taking purposefully shallow breaths until I could get off the elevator. 😉

  30. I have to say that my experience has been pretty positive. Not from the disease itself, but because I have been able to focus on improving my skills in the shop. With nowhere else to go, I have been spending almost every day there, and have been able to focus in a way that I have not previously experienced. It is hard to describe, but it feels sort of like things “clicked” in a way where I feel like I am improving at an exponential rate.
    I used to buy sword fittings from specialty makers, which is expensive. Not only am I casting and engraving my own designs now, but I am making the alloys that I use for casting them. Beyond that, I made all of the tools and equipment that I use for those processes.
    It is hard to put into words. I guess if I were learning guitar instead of making things with wood and metal, I might normally practice the instrument enough that my playing ability would improve steadily but slowly. But with Covid, I might find myself practicing 10 or more hours a day, and come out of quarantine playing like Mark Knopfler.

    My oldest son is even more of an introvert than I am, so he has been training all of his life for the pandemic. With online university classes, he gets to stay home, in his room, and pretty much only emerges for snacks or the restroom.

    1. I understand completely. For some of us, the pandemic era has been overall a boost to our abilty to hyperfocus on our work—a silver lining bigger than the cloud itself.

  31. Thank you for maintaining the WEIT website. It has remained a steady and welcome part of my day.

    My life hasn’t changed much. I tend to be reclusive much of the time. I haven’t had a regular job since around 2004 and only continued a little consulting or contract work after that. I continue to engage in the same volunteer efforts. I seem to have more opportunities to engage than I actually want. Living expenses have decreased during the pandemic so I have been able to give more to some relief efforts than usual. I spend my time hiking in the desert, reading, and drawing a little more than I have in the past. Not spending so much time in meetings has been a relief until everyone started using ZOOM, which I do not like.

    I turn 75 in a few weeks and the solitude has turned me to self evaluation. Fortunately I made most of my big mistakes years ago. I am looking forward to visiting family and old friends once again this summer.

    1. Well, Wayne, on the bright side, if you’ve hung out with our host, Coyne, for any length of time you know he’s a hard determinist. From that standpoint the “big mistakes” you made years ago you would have made anyway. So, in the words of Peggy Lee, let’s break out the booze and have a ball, is that all there is?

      I, too, retired in 2006, over-volunteered before I got my volunteer “sea legs” but enjoyed bantering with youth and teaching them a thing or two, because I know a thing or three. Recently, I have become interested in genealogy as a virtual archaeologist, uncovering the mysteries of my family tree. Lots of fruitless digging, but the occasional bone makes it all worth it. Enjoy your summer!

  32. All those symptoms are very common actually. LOTS of people have also put on weight (not me), drinking much more (definitely me) and being more irritable (sometimes me – hehehe).

    Very soon you’ll be travelling again (Texas was fun, eh?) and those places (and your readers) await your trip reports. Oh. Reading anything by Greyling is odious, no wonder your attention span is stretched.

    Pandemic dynamics are particularly difficult for very social people like yourself (and me, actually).
    keep well and LOOK AFTER YOUR SLEEP! It is a psychiatric vital sign.
    D.A. B.A. (psych and politics), J.D.

  33. Being in Australia, one of the things that’s struck me was how different my experience was compared to most people. Apart from the nervous few months at the start, it’s been relatively relaxed here and I’ve been living a life of semi-normalcy, albeit I have to sign into everywhere I go now with a QR code for contact tracing. Though that seems a small price to pay for the knowledge that any outbreak can be quickly isolated and quarantined.

    In terms of how I’ve changed, I honestly don’t know. Those first few months were filled with paranoia and I was more stressed than usual, but since then everything feels like it’s largely back to normal. One thing I did notice early on was how much the regular “everyday life” things that could just be done now had to be planned. There was a heaviness of living that I hadn’t really felt before. But that’s largely (though not completely) abated.

    The biggest thing for me right now is the uncertainty of when it will end, and what will constitute it ending. I’ll be lucky if I’ve had my vaccine before the end of the year, while international borders are still closed, and the FUBAR situations in other countries mean that the pandemic is going to be around for years to come in some form or another. I’m looking forward to not thinking about it.

  34. I don’t think I’ve changed much at all, but like others who’ve said something similar, it’s because I’ve always been somewhat of a hermit. I’ve greatly enjoyed working from home, am more relaxed, my blood pressure has decreased back into the normal range rather than being pre-hypertensive, my migraines have decreased in frequency, etc.

    I’ve also learned that I previously hated shopping a lot more than I thought and that I greatly enjoy curbside pickup. I don’t miss driving (except out in to the wilds to do photography–which is easy, as I live in South Central Oregon–but that’s the one type of driving I could still do).

    I can say with great certainty that I will loathe going back into the office. Office politics and dealing with petty chatter all day were a great thing to lose. Regaining them will be miserable.

  35. I spent a couple of weeks in March/April 2020 worrying seriously about how the pandemic would affect me, my wife, my family and friends. It is, after all, the gravest global crisis since the end of the Cold War. But then my inner Stoic kicked in, and I have found many things to be thankful for in the past year.

    First and foremost, I’ve spent much more time with my wife. We joked at the start of the first U.K. lockdown that it would be a good trial run for my eventual retirement. It turns out that we really do enjoy one another’s company, which is just as well, since we live in a small house.

    Working from home has also been a huge benefit to my mental health. I had come to hate working in a large, noisy, crowded open-plan office, and to dread the daily commute: an hour and a half sitting in slow-moving traffic every day, which is a whole working day a week that I have been able to reclaim. I am hoping that my employer will allow me to continue working from home on a permanent basis when things return to “normal”.

    I have despaired at times at the Johnson government’s mis-handling of the pandemic in Britain, including its recent tardy response to the rise of the Indian variant, which is now firmly established in the U.K., but my wife and I have both been vaccinated, and in a couple of weeks time, we’ll both have had our second dose.

    My one regret is that we haven’t been able to visit my wife’s family in the U.S. since Christmas 2019, and we have no idea when it will become possible again. That saddens me more than I can express in words.

  36. Like you Jerry have found it difficult to concentrate on tough reading tasks, far easier to fritter away apparently endless time burrowing down the rabbit holes of YouTube, Wikipedia and Quora.
    Following retiral in my early 60s I did a bit of sustained travel for 2/3 years then took on voluntary work. However, this expanded to such an extent that soon I was working harder and longer hours than I had done when employed! So travel took a back seat. Aged 71 I cut back on work and was again looking forward to traveling. Then Covid 19 hit. Last year I had intended to revisit Poland and then cross the High Tatras for a week in Slovakia, returning to the UK by train through Slovenia, Germany and Netherlands. This proved impossible an things are no better this year for these countries. By one’s mid 70s on becomes very conscious of the passage of time and the loss of two years of potential travel is extremely unfortunate. We on this site more than most know we are a long time dead!!

  37. Yes, maintaining concentration and motivation is harder.
    I’d also say it’s made me more assertive and stronger minded – I don’t feel pressure to say yes to everything to keep everyone else happy – I’d like this to be a permanent change.

  38. It’s the little things that annoy you. I spent the better part of a Friday morning trying to throw away a small strip of double backed tape.

  39. I am an extreme introvert, so limiting contact beyond my household didn’t bother me at all. I baked a lot and gained weight, which I am going to lose through the summer. It did make me rethink life though, and realize that I can do with less and that home and family are where it’s at for me. I quit a high paying job and am working at our local humane for now. Huge pay cut, much happier person.

  40. I experienced similar changes – weight gain, impatience, the return of mental health issues I thought I had under control.

    But the worst changes happened to my children.. In the beginning, we all enjoyed having extra time together. But they really missed their friends, they missed kindergarden and school.

    My elder daughter entered elementary school in September 2019. She has now spent more time with online schooling than in school, little by little losing much of her motivation, even so she loved school and learning. She started losing weight, complaining about constant headaches and stomach problems, without any physical reason. She has a very short fuse and starts to cry at least five times a day. We now see a child therapist our pediatrician recommended…and I really hope she comes out of this without any serious mental health problems.

    I know my children are genetically predisposed (depression runs in the family), but she was a healthy, happy child before Covid.

    My younger daughter became progressively more aggressive during lockdowns, mainly because I had to focus on her sister due to the assistance she needed with home schooling. And she changed from being outgoing to shy, fearing bodily contact with anyone outside the closest family.

    I know we are still relatively lucky, compared to other countries (where many children may now miss out on school altogether) and other families – we do have a garden, for instance, that as really helpful, and were both able to from home in jobs that we had no fear of losing due to the pandemic.

    I really fear for the children faced with even more problems. Many in my daughters class basically learnt nothing at all during home schooling, because their parents were either unable to help (many are not native speakers, or could not work from home) or unwilling.

    I wish every one of you all the best!


    1. So sad for the children, CFM. My 6 year old grandson has changed from being a happy-go-lucky little boy, who was looking forward to kindergarten, to an angry and stressed out hybrid-learning DIFFICULT child (as moody as a teenager). He has regressed in some of his habits, crying more and having bathroom issues. I’ll pick him up today and keep him overnight, showering him with love and patience. I’ve started introducing meditation/quiet time to him, helping him breathe through some of his more intense moments when his emotions overwhelm him. (I do the same. It helps but is an ongoing process, as indicated by my own earlier comment on this post.)

  41. Did it change me? Yes. And not for the better either. My autism and ADHD came to the fore, causing even more problems with friendships etc which have been building up for years. Been able to work, both at home and at the office ( a blessing of working in IT). But that wasn’t all. I had Covid over Christmas, recovered quickly and thought little more of it – I even became a plasma donor for research purposes – until early March when I had bilateral pulmonary embolisms. No obvious physical reasons ( no DVTs although I did have the AZ jab the day before but I am certain that there is no link) so both myself and my medical people have put it down to the virus affecting the body’s ability to clot. Scary.

  42. I have become a little more blasé about other people’s deaths. I didn’t see all that many in ICU, but it was there, a few people who I helped care for and got to know a little. It was very dark at times, especially earlier this year. Entering the locked corridor where the entrance to ICU is situated, with little light and still air, felt a little like entering the lair of the Minotaur.
    There were times, when I sat in silence in my own thoughts at the dinner table much more than I ever would normally and maybe that was stress. Back to normal now!
    I feel a little proud, a little sense of brotherhood with the other theatre staff who volunteered for ICU, although I am no intensivist and my contribution was limited, and it’s not like I went off to war or something.

  43. I’ve been working from home for 15 months now; I miss the social contact with the other members of my team. I really miss full-contact aikido practice, which I’ve been doing for 30 years now; it has been the main outlet for all my stress and anger for all those years. That has been the worst aspect of the social-distancing requirements for me. I do enjoy not having to commute though, and consequently spending more time with my family.

    I find myself tearing-up much more these days, and I suffered a sudden and quite unexpected collapse of my mood following my first dose of the Astra-Zeneca vaccination about 2 months ago. I ended up having to take a few days off work because I just kept bursting out crying for no discernible reason. It passed quickly enough, but it was a shock to find myself suddenly so emotionally fragile.

    Physically, I’m in better shape than I’ve been in my entire life. At the age of 52, I started doing “PE with Joe” at the start of the lockdown to encourage my children to exercise, and I’ve kept it going for the entire time I’ve been working from home. I started running in October last year and, having discovered the surgery I had on my left knee twelve years ago doesn’t seem to be an issue, I’m now using an app to try and get me to running a full 10K. Apparently I’m only six weeks away from managing that distance, although I’m still a little skeptical that I can improve that quickly at my age.

    Congratulations to PCC(E) for keeping this site going during such trying times; it’s one of very few that I read and enjoy every day. Yes, even (especially) the science posts.

  44. I will add one more thing.

    In my life, I have (happily, luckily) been pretty immune to depression. It rarely lasts more than a few hours for me and that rarely.

    COVID, especially the last 4-5 months (despite the improving weather in the spring and the prospect and then reality of vaccination (we are now 6/6 for vaccination at our house)) have been a challenge for me to keep my spirits up.

    That said, as soon as I had my first vaccine dose in me, I booked travel for this summer. That is a happy thought.

    I think the big thing for me regarding depression is that I haven’t had a vacation in almost 2 years and I really need those breaks. I am very burned out. Luckily, retirement is now less than a year away (and I booked my vacation for this summer!)

  45. Hi Jerry, If I may ask you: What specifically draws you to Israel? Historical sites and/or friends, I would assume?

    After reading you account of your Antarctica cruise, that kind of a trip (on Hurtigruten!) has risen high on our list!

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