The Two Week Quarantine Report

We got back from the JoCo Cruise on March 14, and March 15 was our first full day back in the world, so today marks two full weeks since I’ve basically holed myself up in my house. In the first week back I had two trips out to the grocery store, both observing full social isolation (i.e., at least feet between me and everyone else, no touching), and this week I’ve been off my property exactly once — today, when I went for a long walk down my street, on which I encountered no one because it’s a rural road and no one actually walks it except for me. It was good to be out in the early spring.

And how has this two weeks of (mostly) isolation been? On the whole, for me: fairly pleasant. I’ve mentioned before that when I’m at home, I don’t tend to go out a lot anyway — I can easily go a week or longer without leaving the house or seeing anyone but my family and pets. The two weeks back from the cruise I had nowhere scheduled to be anyway; I was supposed to go somewhere nest Tuesday (that’s now been postponed), but up until then my plan was: Be at home. So in that regard, “self-isolation” has just rather closely modeled what my plan already was.

Likewise with work I didn’t have a lot scheduled for myself — mostly plotting out new work (which is a grand way of saying “staring into space a lot while vaguely thinking of things I might write next”) and preparing for the book tour that was supposed to start a little over two weeks from now. Well, the physical tour is cancelled but we’re actively replacing that with online events, and also I have been plotting out that new work, so while some things have shifted, essentially I did what I planned to do with this time, i.e., mostly nothing, but a little bit of something.

Moving forward, plans have changed a bit, of course. I was planning to continue a relatively light work load through the length of my tour, because tours are busy and also enervating. Now that there’s no physical tour, I plan on being a little more serious about daily work, starting this next week. When I say “a little more serious” I should note that I’m planning to be careful not to overschedule my workload. This self-isolation thing I’m doing is very much like my normal routine but these are very much not normal times, and while for various reasons I’m probably better insulated from the world’s woes than most people, I’m still feeling the stress. My daily work goals are going to be modest to start and then we’ll see what happens from there. The point for me is to start up daily work again, and to start filtering out the outside world during work hours (or at least until I meet my work goals for the day).

Between now and the end of May I have exactly two places I need to be other than home: I need to take a day trip to Michigan to sign copies of The Last Emperox at the Subterranean Press warehouse, and I need to go to Jay and Mary’s bookstore here in Troy to do the same thing. I’ll do those in the next couple of weeks (provided I’m allowed to travel to Michigan at all — state-to-state travel is becoming a weirdly testy subject these days). In both cases I’ll be very sure to observe appropriate distancing.

Beyond that: Well, I’ll be here, with family. And cats. There are worse fates, to be sure.

25 Comments on “The Two Week Quarantine Report”

  1. Yeah, we’ve been incredibly lucky too. I also work from home and have no issues with being here, and we as yet, have no community spread in Tasmania so I can go out this morning and get some perishables. Fingers crossed you can get to Michigan and back safely, but hoping you won’t risk it if it’s not safe to do so

  2. My daughter and I were supposed to visiting the Pyramids of Giza today; instead she’s working in her Acute Medical Unit trying to save people’s lives whilst I self-isolate to avoid catching the wretched thing since I am very likely to die as a result, and desperately hoping that my daughter is not one of the healthcare professionals who die from the wretched thing.

    Fortunately the Pyramids and the Sphinx have been there for a very long time so they can wait for us a little longer.

  3. I’m in Ann Arbor and regularly speak to hospital admins; two weeks from now is probably not going to be a good time to visit the state. If you are planning to leave early, drive, sign, and drive back you’d probably be fine if everything goes right.

    But. We are forcibly reminded lately that things often don’t go right.

    I know you take signings very seriously; much as I admire that I’d suggest that your fans would prefer you stay safe and thereby keep your family safer.

    Who else could make Certain People’s heads explode just by being productive and happy? Obligations, Sir!

  4. I am VERY pleased by the report that all in stately Scalzi Manor are healthy. I was very worried about all my friends on Das Nerdboot.

  5. I had a surreal weekend. Cold and hard rain both days, the kind of weather where you look out, shake your head “no”, and decide to stay in and make a pot of chili. Lights turned on and off, the internet connected and cable TV was fine, Sunday paper on the porch like it always is, water flowed when I turned the faucet. No where I had to be and no where I wanted to go in such weather when I didn’t have to go out. I’m retired with a good pension, no financial worries, and a full freezer and pantry. Decided it was a good opportunity to do my taxes so I downloaded the software, organized the paperwork, and spent a couple of hours knocking them out. Pretty much like Mr Scalzi described his life.

    And yet, outside of my cocoon during a cold rainy weekend: the world’s changed.

  6. Good to know that you have reached the two-week point without developing symptoms; I hope that continues, though it is a pernicious bug to be sure. And thank you for continuing to follow social-distancing practices even though you are non-symptomatic.

    Despite militant social distancing and sanitizing, my sibling has likely contracted it (her state is not testing anyone unless they’re in ICU so her doc is basing the tentative diagnosis on her symptoms), and based on her best analysis of the past two weeks, she probably caught it during the 20 minutes she sat in the waiting room getting her oil changed on March 17. As she was paying (so after she had spent 20 minutes there), the proprietor casually mentioned that a customer had been in the previous day coughing violently and having difficulty breathing. And eleven days later, my sib started the same symptoms.

    So thanks for continuing to embrace social distancing, Clan Scalzi. May you never become symptomatic – but if you do, the fewer others you interact with, the fewer are likely to catch it.

  7. Once you’ve come up with a new writing idea, how do you not leave existing tasks unfinished and immediately begin working on the new idea?

  8. Been telecommuting/teleworking for almost two weeks here, and while I haven’t gone quite that stir crazy yet, it’s slowly making its what there. Been able to stave if off by maintaining my at work routine here, which for most part, planning/executing a simple 3/4 of a mile walk next to a lovely little mini-mountain whenever the weather is good enough (e.g. not downpouring) to do so.

  9. Since I work for a company that supports an agency that supports people out in the field getting shot at by irate locals I’ve been going in to the office every weekday on my normal schedule. Makes my life weirdly normal.

    We’re pretty paranoid here because if our office goes on quarantine it’s going to be a problem for other people who have enough problems as it is.

    The Federal government really needs to rethink both it “outsource everything we can” mindset, and its “keep all the contractors near the Beltway” mindset. Really, there’s no reason they couldn’t put a SCIF in Akron and have the work done there.

  10. Richard:

    It’s not at the printers. It’s been printed for a while now. The audiobook is also done.


    If you want it to arrive on or near pub date, have your order in this week.

  11. I’ve been telecommuting for over 30 years, so there’s only two things that have changed for me due to everyone else being advised to practice social distancing. One is that I usually travel once or twice a month to give in-person seminars; all of that work has been cancelled through July. The other is that, because everyone at the home office is also now telecommuting, they’ve suddenly remembered I exist and are including me on every meeting. I used to have to remind people to include me. I also used to be able to be safely ignored for meetings that I had no interest in attending. Now, it’s as though I’ve been trapped in this weird new world where suddenly my input is vital to everyone. Not loving that. I envy the friends I have who are “bored” during social distancing, and part of me wishes I had some time to be bored!!!

  12. I’m curious about the logistics of signing books. How many books do you normally sign? Is it really cheaper to fly one Scalzi to the warehouse than it is to drive one pallet of books to your house?

  13. Hi Scalzi. Add my voice to the chorus of gladness at your freedom from symptoms.

    I missed a few days and didn’t see the “Distance and Patience” thread until it was closed. And yet I have comments, even if they be OT: Sadly, that whole post was political, at this moment in time. It’s a consequence of the situation where one faction of powerful political actors decide en masse that they get to ignore reality, that any reality-based utterance becomes political. Sucks, doesn’t it. Also: the virus doesn’t have agency. It doesn’t want anything, it just does what it does. Reality-basedly, the smart thing to do is stay out of its way so it can’t do its thing with you.

    Regarding your work, I have an admission to make: I don’t like it very much! No aspersions on you, and its not universal: Old Man’s War and some of the others in that series were OK, or pretty good even. Redshirts was… fabulous. I loved that. I really want to like the ones starting with Collapsing Empire but have been having a hard time getting traction. I looked at Lock In when it came out and was like “ugh, no” from just the cover. I can’t remember if I actually tried to read it. Fuzzy Nation, I looked at it and stalled… somewhat surprisingly, as I’m old enough to remember the Beam Piper novels. Part of this is probably the difficulty I’ve been having with reading in general the last couple of years… fiction seems too trite, nonfiction is either too depressing or seems like a willful flight from reality. I only read one book last year, which was a huge change from my previous life.

    But I keep up with what you’re doing and at least try to read most of the things you publish. I’m looking at your Wikipedia page and noticing a lot of short fiction that I’ve never seen. Seems like there ought to be a collection or something.

    Have you ever thought of doing a first-contact story? One where the ETs have a well-thought-out backstory that comports with current best guesses about what kinds of creatures might evolve intelligence that we could recognize as such? Niven and Pournelle did pretty good at this a couple of times, with Footfall and Mote in God’s Eye, but their aliens were outliers in the space I’m thinking of… the Moties had undergone extensive evolution and radiation after developing industrial societies that could destroy their own civilization, and were in fact products of repeated bouts of that (to the extent that probably not even they know much about what their nonsapient progenitors were like), while the Fithp were artificially uplifted by an ancient progenitor society of different beings.

    What I meant by “comports with best guesses” is maybe “rejecting obviously ridiculous starting points.” Intelligence and language (as we understand the notions) make sense only for social animals. A race of intelligent grizzly bears or tigers is a nonstarter. I admit that I got on this train of thought by critiquing Niven’s Kzin. You might barely make that one work by starting with lions, and if you insist on only one sex being sentient make it the females.

  14. Don’t you have to reset the quarantine clock every time you leave the house? That’s what my doc advised.

  15. Dear cmj,

    Your doctor’s advice is the most medically prudent advice. For you as an individual — I’m assuming your situation allows that possibility. Because what that translates to is that you get to go out no more often than once every two weeks for the duration of the epidemic.

    That’s simply not going to be workable for a lot of people. It is definitely a bad idea for the entire country. A nationwide shelter-in-place that runs for months (because that’s what we’re talking about) will crash the economy. Great Depression levels of economic hardship. Most small businesses will collapse, and many large ones. Uncountable numbers of people will lose their jobs and be impoverished. Huge numbers will become homeless.

    Abject poverty kills. It kills at least as effectively than covid-19. Applied society-wide, your doctor’s advice is as devastating as the (thankfully small minority) of governmental assholes (and it is a small minority) who want to ignore sound medical practice and concentrate on keeping the economy moving. It’s just at the other end of the scale.

    Unfortunately, it is impossible to know what the optimum balance is between quarantining and impoverishment. Anyone who claims they do is talking through their, ummm, hat. We simply do not have good enough data or models.

    All we know is that there are no really good solutions. We can be pretty confident that the one we settle on won’t turn out to be the very best, because the odds don’t favor being that lucky in our guesses. But we know there are some really bad solutions and taken to its consequential extreme your doctor’s is one of them.

    It still might be great personal advice for you, and it would likely be workable for John. In fact, it doesn’t sound all that much different from the way he is living his life.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  16. @cmj: Sorry, no. It’s just not possible for most people to literally stay inside the house for 14 days. In my state (Illinois; I live in Chicago) the guidelines allow us to go outside for trips to pharmacies and the grocery store (along with walking dogs, although we don’t have one). I can’t possibly stockpile enough food (let alone toilet paper) in my condo to last for 14 days every single time I open the door. Sure, I could order in, but that puts delivery people at risk (and me).

    So once a day I head out to the grocery store and/or the drugstore, washing my hands before and after every time. No face masks, although I did just order some from Amazon, but they won’t come soon.

    Wash your hands, practice “social distancing” (I sort of hate that phrase), and stay safe. But remember, as the latest Doctor says, “We’ll get through this.”

  17. Margaret Atwood developed a remote signing pen, but I did not think it would be useful. Kind of a cranky thing.

    Now? I sense an opportunity to engage with your audience.

  18. T’is a balancing act from hell.* Tilt too far in the direction of protecting people and crash the economy. Tilt too far in the direction of maintaining normal commercial activity and crash the healthcare system with a flood of sick and dying people.

    * Manual not included.

  19. Cv19 spreads exponentially. In exponential growth, the number of cases doubles every N days. 1 person has it. He gives it to 2 people in N days. Those 2 people give it ti 4 people in N days. Those 4 people give it to 8 people in N days.
    Starting with 1 person, 10 doubling periods, 10 * “N” days, gives you 1000 cases.

    We went fron 1 american dead from cv19 on april 29 to 3200 americans dead as of march 31. Thats 11.5 doublings in 32 days. Or a doubling every 3 days. That matches the total number of Americans diagnosed with the disease as well.

    Simplifying and rounding down a bit, 10 doublings in a month is like multiplying the number of cases by a thousand.

    Take the number of cases you have at the beginning of the month. Whatever that number is, ADD THREE ZEROES TO THE END. Every month, add another 3 zeroes.

    3,200 dead on at start of april? That means roughly
    3,200,000 dead by the end of april.

    Anyone going out for anything other than an absolute neccessity is contributing to this growth in cases. Anyone who cannot get their shit together and stay the fuck home is contributing to this growth.

    And for you knuckleheads crying about the economy, imagine what’ll happen to the economy if you take out 3 million Americans. It will crash. So its not save lives or save the economy. That isnt the choice here.

    The choice is save lives, maybe 200k people die, and the economy suffers the way it is now. Or stop practicing social distancing, literally a million or more die, and the economy crashes and burns and never ever gets back to the way it was. If Trump hadnt given up on his ludicrous Easter return to business as usual schedule, he might as well be Thanos snapping his fingers.

    We have to stop this. We have to stop this NOW. And a lot of you mother fuckers arent taking this serious enough to actually flatten the curve. I dont care if you are bored or have cabin fever or feel cooped up or the kids are driving you crazy. STAY THE FUCK HOME. Once a week, go for groceries, cover up, wear a mask and gloves, get home, unpack groceries, wash all of it down, or let it sit for three days. Throw your clothes in the wash. And take a shower. You go out, you’re going out into a global pandemic, you are going out into the zombie apocalypse, fucking act like it.

    We are at the early stages of “I am Legend” and some of you are acting like its “planes trains and automobiles”. You all keep doing what you’re doing, we dont flatten this curve, this will have a 12 Monkeys ending.


    50 people had choir practice, and just found out at least 2 of them have cv19. A whole bunch of kids had a corona party, and turns out one of them was infected. People were going to the florida beaches like it was spring break. A minister bragged about having a thousand people come to his church. What the fuck is the matter with people??? Stay the fuck home.

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