Category: Pandemic Chronicles

Old Processes vs. New Behaviors


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


red and white stop sign
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

As the world around me has started to (pre-maturely regain normalcy), I have decided to deal with some of the to-do list items. The more I try to get things done, the more I realize that our “digital transition” is still in infancy, and any talk of a digital-first society is decidedly premature. 

Take, for example, medical care. Over the past few weeks, I have been grappling with some medical issues. I use UCSF for my core medical needs and have an excellent insurance plan. The medical provider uses an online portal to manage patient care and communications, but when it came to triaging my complications between three different specialists – the portal wasn’t much help. It took old-fashioned phone calls, voice mails, and phone calls – to finally resolve the matters and move forward. I will save you the details – because this isn’t a lament about the doctors. 

Instead, it is about the archaic nature of processes built into an institution built for a paper-first world. It has since added a digital veneer to it. The MyChart portal gives you an impression of being digital-first, but it doesn’t account for real-world situations. 

We have become so accustomed to new forms of communication and collaboration. Still, it is hard to do so in systems that have been architected on pylons from a different era. What happens when the world is video-call first, and the phone numbers go the way of the landline? How (Read more...)

“The Great Resignation” is Clickbait


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Paul Millerd, author of The Pathless Path, in an interview with Sara Campbell, points out:

This might surprise you but I think the framing of “The Great Resignation” is off. It seems like a successful media narrative that has helped generate clicks but doesn’t really get to the heart of what’s happening. The “great resignation” framing suggests there is a massive exit from employment happening. It’s not clear that’s the case…… Going deeper, however, I do there is a much more interesting shift happening. Before the pandemic when I talked to people about work, there was a lot of shame attached to the conversation. Previous generations resisted these conversations forcefully. Part of this was survival — there weren’t great alternatives to traditional employment. That’s no longer the case and people are starting to wake up to it.  

This is a great interview and worth reading. This comment really resonated with me, especially as I have started to contemplate the next phase of my life and my relationship with work.

With work as the central organizing principle of my life, the most important things were to always be progressing, improving, and achieving. One thing that’s helped me is to step back and try to define what work really is. This has enabled me to shift away from simply seeing work as something that comes with a paycheck towards it as any sort of activity worth doing.

Read article on Tiny Revolutions

The Newest Variant


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


A new variant of coronavirus is upon us. As is its wont, Omicron is more infectious and is spreading fast. While, in the past, the virus impacted only a handful of close friends and family, the recent spike has impacted quite many friends. A few of them are struggling, despite having been vaccinated. 

As I was researching the possible impact of the new variant, I couldn’t help but notice how difficult it was to find accurate, actionable information about Omicron and how to deal with it. Except for a handful of writers — Ed Yong of The Atlantic, for example –, one gets quickly sucked into a quagmire of hot takes and incremental information.

It leaves you even scratching your head, perhaps highlighting the problem we have in an Internet-centric information economy. Information is easy to produce, but intelligence remains in short supply. 

In the end, I ended up emailing a few friends — who are experts, doctors, or both, and they all pointed me to a handful of sources to make an informed decision. On their recommendations, I have been following Bob Wachter of UCSF on Twitter and Katelyn Jetelina (aka YourLocalEpidemologist) on Substack. They are pretty direct and clear in their communication about the virus and its reality.  

I was planning to travel for the holidays, but instead, I have gone into a self-imposed lockdown. Sure, I have been vaccinated and received the booster, but why take unnecessary risks. I hope you are doing your bit to (Read more...)

Ambition has failed us.


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


grayscale photography of people walking in train station
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Ambition means different things to different people, but in the capitalist framework I am talking about, I think its defining feature is its linear trajectory. Think of all the highly driven and ambitious people you know working long after their basic needs are met: Are they ever “done” or satisfied with where they’ve ended up and ready to call it quits on achieving? Of course not. Ambition is an unquenchable thirst.

Since the Industrial Revolution launched a large subset of humanity into the illusion that we could conquer nature for our own purposes, linear ambition has been a kind of survival strategy. In recent decades, that’s certainly been true for privileged, knowledge-economy workers like me: We’re always trying to keep up in a world of work that seems to constantly get faster and expect more of us, leaving us too burned out and apathetic to deal with anything that doesn’t directly affect us or our families.

This is a wonderful read and a good reminder of lessons from the pandemic, that we have already started to forget.

Read article on Rosie Spinks

September


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


As a man who has always had the wand'ring ways
Now I'm reaching back for yesterdays
'Til a long-forgotten love appears
And I find that I'm sighing softly as I near
September, the warm September of my years.
The September of My Years, Frank Sinatra 


I love this song by Frank Sinatra – a reminder that even the very best of us can’t escape the tick-tock of time. We all eventually accumulate enough knowledge through the life lived to appreciate the days after summer. I, for one, love September — it is a gateway to the visual charms of Autumn. 

It points to cooling temperatures that are tempting enough to visit my parents: the holiday season, and hopefully a chance to take photos somewhere of snow-covered landscapes. Whether all this happens, this year remains to be seen. Lies are still costing lives. And America is hoarding toilet paper again! The smoke from the California wildfires will soon waft its way to our city as well. 

As the sun breaks on the second day of the month, I am thinking about August, specifically my blogging. At the start of the month, I challenged myself to write every day.

“I find that all the research and information I gather is put to good use if I write it down. More often than not, I tend to write my notes in longhand in a private journal. However, I am sometimes overcome with an urge to blog.”

Looking back, I am actually not that (Read more...)

What’s so great about summer?


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


San Francisco undercover. Made with iPhone 12 Pro Max

What’s so great about summer? Quite a few things, but for me, it is Fogust: the foggy month of August that we get to enjoy in San Francisco. August is the perfect staycation month for me. 

First of all, I am extra cautious about the emergent strain of the virus — and see no reason to take any risks by traveling. Secondly, I’m not too fond of hot climes. While most of the northern hemisphere enjoys hot days and balmy nights, I much prefer my backyard—daytime highs of 65 degrees and nights that dip down to the low 50s. 

The fog is also a chance to exercise my camera. And spend a lot of time reading — long articles, books, and of course, research papers. I hope that with the arrival of the new month, I will find my writing rhythm. Over the past two weeks, I have probably scribbled more notes in my journal than on the old blog. 

Anyway, this being the weekend, I thought I would share some gems I found on the Internet to make you smile. 


An unusual week


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


It was an unusual week. Unusual in part because of how normal it felt, like the days before the pandemic. And yet, by the time the weekend rolled around, it was clearly anything but ordinary.

My schedule was packed to an extent it hasn’t been in quite a while. I had a couple of board meetings (still completely on Zoom). I did quite a few everyday pre-pandemic things, like getting a haircut and a straight razor shave. I even visited my local tailor, because I lost enough weight in the pandemic to get my pants taken in. I have had enough of living in easy pants at home. I want to wear grown-up trousers, proper leather shoes, and shirts with collars. 

I popped over to have lunch with Brad Stone of Bloomberg Businessweek and talk about his book, Amazon Unbound. I am halfway through the book, and I find it much more interesting than his previous effort, The Everything Store. I am finding it more revealing and informative, mostly because I lived (and covered) the world of Amazon in the early phase of the company’s history. As a civilian, I find the new book to be chock-a-block with new details, stories, and insights about a man who has surpassed success. I am sure I will eventually write a full review. 

We talked about billionaires in planes — sorry, in rockets — and how many people from far-off places recently pinged me about the “space economy” and space stocks. Nothing (Read more...)

Reopening Day


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Fog over Pacific. Made with iPhone 12 ProMax. Apple ProRaw enhanced with Adobe Super Resolution.

It is reopening day in California — and to finally call it summer. It has been a long time since we have been able to do things that can be deemed normal — mundane activities like walking out without a mask and look at each other’s smiles. Or get a cup of coffee at a cafe. I celebrated the comeback from the pandemic — at least in our part of the world — by getting a haircut and a straight razor shave from my favorite barber. It is such a simple thing, and yet the only thing I could think of that could give me such immense joy. I hope this mundane normalcy comes your way — and even if it does, wear a mask in crowded places. I hope you get a jab (or two) soon.

I don’t have any travel plans. I like the cooler confines of San Francisco, which is often wrapped in a blanket of fog, even as the rest of the west burns with record high temperatures. I know it is a brief respite before the wildfire season returns, and we are forced to use masks again. But for now, this is a gift I want to enjoy. And today, I am officially ending the use of the tag, Pandemic Chronicles.

June 15, 2021. San Francisco

How to help with India’s COVID-19 Crisis?


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


It has been a rough few days for the citizens of India, who have been struggling with the rampaging COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is more widespread than either media or official figures seem to indicate. Many of you emailed and asked about what is the best way to offer help and aid. Here is a list of simple resources to get you started. 

  1. Joy of Sharing: This is a Norwalk, CA-based charity group that gathers funds for vital supplies. Please select COVID-19 INDIA to designate your funds. 
  2. Aid India: Like Joy of Sharing, it too accepts credit cards for online donations. 
  3. Mission Oxygen: This is an initiative by a community of founders from the Delhi region to donate life-saving equipment to hospitals.
  4. Give India is helping organize funds for oxygen, food, survivor support, and other needs for those who desperately need it. 
  5. Hemkunt Foundation is helping laborers and migrant workers who have been made jobless and homeless. They are helping to provide them with food, shelter, and basic hygiene/survival supplies.

I hope this list helps. I will keep updating the links as I find them. 

How to help with India’s COVID-19 Crisis?


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


It has been a rough few days for the citizens of India, who have been struggling with the rampaging COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is more widespread than either media or official figures seem to indicate. Many of you emailed and asked about what is the best way to offer help and aid. Here is a list of simple resources to get you started. 

  1. Joy of Sharing: This is a Norwalk, CA-based charity group that gathers funds for vital supplies. Please select COVID-19 INDIA to designate your funds. 
  2. Aid India: Like Joy of Sharing, it too accepts credit cards for online donations. 
  3. Mission Oxygen: This is an initiative by a community of founders from the Delhi region to donate life-saving equipment to hospitals.
  4. Give India is helping organize funds for oxygen, food, survivor support, and other needs for those who desperately need it. 
  5. Hemkunt Foundation is helping laborers and migrant workers who have been made jobless and homeless. They are helping to provide them with food, shelter, and basic hygiene/survival supplies.

I hope this list helps. I will keep updating the links as I find them.