The RIGHT NOW

This is page is inspired by: “What’s up? How’s life?”

If anyone’s even remotely interested in the above questions, here’s what you need to know:

Since the commencement of “shelter in place” in March, things in my life has been quite interesting. I’ve learned to appreciate the small miracles, now and retrospectively. Right when The University of Miami notified us that we had to work from home, my roommate from hell was just moving out. After 6 months of living together, I just could not put up with his bullshit any longer and THANK GOD. Although, I would have to fork up the rent all by myself, I thought to myself fuck it. I work too damn hard to deal with the doings of a man-child, so I kicked his ass out. Could you imagine me having to deal with him and working from home? Anyone who knows me personally is probably thanking their lucky stars the move happened when it did, for the sake of that poor bastard. Small miracles…

On a more serious note, work has been in flux. April was one of the most stressful times in my entire tenure at The U. Stress was on the rise as demands were coming in left and right, my boss was transitioning into a different and more perplexing role and the protocol for COVID was constantly evolving - as is the nature of the virus. Florida was quickly becoming the epicenter of COVID-19 😷 and all eyes were on UM. Efforts, put in place by a collaboration between Miami-Dade County (MDC) Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Florida Power & Light, and The University of Miami, to ramp up serological testing (for antibodies) to capture a more accurate picture of COVID-19 burden across MDC were in full force. We randomly tested over 10,000 residents of MDC and I got to work on building our official dashboard (www.sparkc.info) This all came in addition to the 5050 role I currently have with Sylvester and the Department of Public Health Sciences. Thankfully, stress came back down to more “normal” levels and I was back to doing what I would normally do…except from home.

I really took advantage of my extra room and turned it into my multipurpose room 💪. I set up my home office, purchased a pull-out couch for guests, installed a tv on the wall and got some home workout equipment since I knew a gym would be out of the question for a while. That lasted for about two months until my boyfriend, who’s a software engineer, decided, since we were sheltering in place together, that the couch was just not going to cut it as a workstation. So back re-arranging things; but it all worked out. I honestly like this setup a lot better. We’ve been sheltering in place together for 6 months now, he’s still breathing, and our relationship is stronger than ever…another small miracle. Back to COVID-19. Was I fool to think that I had escaped the stress back in April? Yes. Yes, I was. With the start of the semester and July being a terrible month for Florida, The U was gearing up for “return to campus” under the safest precautions one could possibly take. And here I was again, tasked with building a public-facing dashboard to visualize our testing efforts. I was honored with task and I did not take it lightly - anything COVID is quite sensitive. Oh, and this was happening right when my boyfriend and I decided to take a road trip to Delaware (where tf is that anyway?) to visit his folks (for the first time in person for me). I did intend on working but this was another level. For three straight weeks it was 12-hour workdays, nights and weekends. I am grateful to have a job.

Anyway, that did not come without some drama. I pride myself on being a scientist of data, a forever learner of data methodology. Unfortunately, my opinion on dashboard details clashed with those of people much higher than I in the org chart whose job, to their defense, is to prevent bad PR against The University. Well, that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, we rectified our mistakes as quickly as we could, but I fear we may have done a bit of damage to the trust from the UM Community. But since our launch in mid-August, we have made incredible progress. I’ve met and worked closely with so many new people from across campuses. I wish work was like this all the time (without a raging virus on our tails). I mean the true interdisciplinary collaboration being done as I type this is remarkable. For the first time since I began working at the U, I truly feel like I’m part of something bigger, a real team. You can check out that work at https://coronavirus.miami.edu/dashboard. This is truly an instance of “trying to fly while still building the plane” (is that the saying?).

Now, I’m back home in my lovely apartment in Miami trying to fight off any signs of burn-out, work-fatigue, the blues or whatever the hell it’s called when work has been non-stop and haven’t really socialized in six months. In whatever free time I have, I am auditing Dr. Alberto Cairo’s “Intro to Data Journalism” course to sharpen any data visualization skills I currently have and learn some new ones. The course is going great and I’m actually super excited for the rest of the semester. I’m learning some really valuable stuff that will likely make its way into a blog post 😼.

That’s all folks! Check back in a month or two to see if anything has changed since writing this (most likely, it won’t).

Oh, and because all the cool kids have one….

Currently on my nightstand:

City of Girls
Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism
How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information