As the world is griped by the global pandemic of the Covid-19 Coronavirus, I, like many around the world, have been ordered to work from home until further notice. Things are changing quickly, and I fully expect mandatory quarantine to follow in a few days, and with stores running short on supplies, rationing to follow shortly after.

I’m in a fortunate position in that until about a year ago, this was my day to day, and so for me this is largely a return to normal. Others in other industries are not so fortunate, and we’re already seeing the first of many likely business collapses and layoffs.

As we learn more about just how badly we are screwed, it is clear that societies around the world are going to have to change.

Restrictions placed on travel, association, going into offices and the large scale quarantining of whole populations are likely to go on for years (especially since it is now becoming evident that you can get the damn thing again, even after you’ve had it).

Thousands of us are going to die over the coming months, in every country in the world.

Every one of us will be affected.

The age of globalism is over

The quick spread of this disease has exposed the fragility of our global supply chain. Countries like Russia, which shut its borders early on, have faired much better so far than those that continued to allow unrestricted free movement of people.

At the very least I imagine that medical history checks will now be a routine part of travel going forward, together with routine shutdowns in outbreak areas.

Furthermore, with China now using its position as “Factory of the world” as a political weapon and threatening to limit supplies of life saving equipment and medical supplies, I fully expect more strategically important manufacturing to be moved back within national borders. Trade will of course continue, but it has proven foolish to depend overly on others for things necessary for your own survival.

Corona has made it clear that being entirely dependant on an Authoritarian Communist dictatorship for pretty much all such materiel is … probably a bad idea.

The world has no more time for your bullshit

Health services and supply chains, even in the developed west, will be pushed beyond breaking point. Rationing of care and supplies will likely become a factor of our lives for the next year or so at least.

Hard times are ahead, and if you’ve been used to relying (as we all have been to some extent) on the fact that we’re all so safe and pampered in the west, there’s a shock in store.

With healthcare systems being overwhelmed, and battlefield levels of triage being put in place, we are all going to have to be responsible for ourselves. We must rely on our own independence and resources, and each other.

Nobody is coming to save you.

As a result, nobody has the luxury to care about your made up mental illness, or that the only thing you’ve got going on in your life is that you’re part of [Insert Identity Group Here]. We’re out of patience as a society, and we no longer have the resources to coddle you.

Nobody has time or patience to shield you from your actions, and if you choose to endanger yourself, then that’s your own lookout. If your actions endanger others, for example, if you come into work when you have symptoms or generally go about your day exposing vulnerable people, then you deserve the harshest punishments.

We have more pressing matters to deal with as a society right now than your bullshit.

Chequered flag waved in the Rat Race

All rather bleak, but maybe there’s a silver lining if you squint at it…

With many of us in white collar jobs being forced to work from home, and offices shutting for the foreseeable future. How long will it be before people become used to this?

How long will it take for people to realise that the vast majority of white collar jobs in the modern economy simply don’t need to be done in an office?

Imagine, no more wasting your life commuting on packed trains. No more traffic jams.

No more expensive rents, and paying through the nose for a shoebox within commuting distance of work. Instead, you could live anywhere there’s an internet connection, and where the standard of living is high and the housing is cheap!

How long before people realise that office life really is a relic of a bygone age?

When this crisis is over, how many of us will refuse to go back? Many, I hope.

The same promise of freedom also beckons our young people forward into the light. With schools and universities around the world being shuttered, how long before they too realise that these institutions are entirely unnecessary for providing an “education” in the 21st century?

You can learn just about anything on the internet, and what’s more, you can do it for free. Everything I use to earn a living I taught myself outside of school, and this was in the days before the internet. I made more advancements in training on my frequent sick days than I ever did in the classroom, where I was forced to watch some Education “professional” fail to keep order, and attempting to concentrate while dodging thrown chairs and other projectiles.

Every day I would pray for some disaster to shut the schools so I could actually learn something. To this day I’m annoyed by my forced false imprisonment, and to think about how much further I’d be in my career were I not forced to go.

University was a little better, in that I actually learnt something (and the disruptive kids were generally too dumb to make the entrance requirements).

But, it was also expensive.

Not as expensive as it is now of course, and certainly not as expensive as in the United States, but still massively over priced and over valued.

There are other ways to get certified for future employment, and lets be clear, this is all a degree is right now – a certification of basic competence that future employers can look at in order to determine whether or not to give you an entry level position, nothing more.

Anyway.

I seem to remember that there’s a language where the word for “crisis” was written using the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity”.

It may have been Chinese.

I am currently writing this on my laptop on a train to see some friends for a Czech Christmas tradition of mulled wine and fried carp. I’m surrounded by frantic Christmas shoppers , and I’m pondering the year that is almost gone as they stuff bags of last minute gifts into overhead luggage shelves.

In a way 2019 can be thought of as the culmination of the decisions made last year. The pivots I made, and the focus I gained. Well, culmination may be a bit of an overstatement, but I’m well on the way. Nothing in life is ever complete, at least not until you’re in the ground.

Career wise, I made the decision that what I was doing was, while keeping a roof over my head and food on the table, didn’t really have either the trajectory or the velocity to get me to where I wanted to be in the time available. So, at the beginning of the year I pivoted hard and got a “proper job”, but the benefit of that job not being my only gig meant I could go back to corporate land with a view of only doing interesting things and not having to put up with the BS that drove me out of that world so many years ago.

A brief overview of 2019
Third Man

So, I accepted an offer to develop services that help scientists around Europe gain access to the equipment they need to do cutting edge research. As well as the day to day, this also required me to get involved in some important European data sharing projects.

The job involves a fair amount of travel, so that certainly aligns with some of my main goals, and I’ve spoken at world leading scientific conferences. I even accidentally set EU data sharing policy.

Crazy amount of work with some very cool people, crazy amount of experiences, and crazy opportunities going forward. Exciting times!

Despite all this, for those interested, I’m also still offering consultancy services! I’m still am active in the open source community, most notably contributing to Known. 2019 was the year that I’m delighted to say saw Known leave development hell and in to a 1.0 release. Community engagement has been fantastic, and we’re already sketching out a roadmap for future exciting features and versions.

Outside of work, I have progressed in my Judo. Training hard and obtaining my blue belt, as well as competing in my first competition. I got my motorcycle licence, and achieved some pretty serious personal bests at the gym.

So, I begin 2020 having achieved many of the goals I’ve set myself, and thinking about what goals to set in the upcoming year. While I enter it with optimism, I’m aware that the event horizon of possibility is drawing nearer, and the window of opportunity for certain life directions is growing smaller, if indeed they’re still possible.

This sense of urgency has now permeated everything I do, and every aspect of my life. No choice but to keep pushing forward and becoming the best version of myself that’s possible.

On to the next decade… the roaring 20’s!

So, it’s a brand new year, so I should probably write something about it.

2018 was pretty wild!

I started the year with a realisation that I needed to re-evaluate a bunch of my base assumptions about things, both in my work and personal life. This set me on a journey that resulted in me changing my mind about a lot of things, and defining things that I wanted out of life much more clearly. I was also surprised that the things that I wanted, were not the things that I thought I did.

Traveled a bunch (although, of course never as much as I’d like). Memorable trips this year included a winter trip to a cabin in the woods, and a summer trip backpacking around Croatia.

I met and spent time with some lovely new people, and took up new activities.

I continued my martial arts journey by taking up Judo (ostensibly to add some ground fighting skills, which I felt was limiting me), and got my first belt. I even got to train with an Olympic medalist, which was pretty special.

Of course, she was totally thrilled to meet me, as you might imagine.

Personal growth was very much the theme for 2018. I read a lot, came to understand a bunch of things, and really just stopped giving energy to things that used to bother me.

So, what’s in store for 2019? Who knows, but I’m excited! 

I’m laser focused on my goals right now. One of those goals being to live outside of the UK, so I’m stripping back my belongings to the bone (so I can either move it or store it), and exploring opportunities overseas. The B-word, and the British government’s incompetence, not withstanding.

Wherever I end up, I’m still going to be working hard, training hard, reading loads, and becoming the best version of myself that I can be.

Can’t wait.

So, what are your plans for 2019?