Camren and I

Though he at times struggles with being overshadowed by his extroverted peers, and the negative framing that seems to follow being quiet, Camren has many of the qualities I respect in young men. He is quiet and determined, posesses grit, is intelligent and curious, dependable, works hard, and has great athletic potential.


To quit

I dropped into KC clothing for the first time in ages yesterday in search of something suitable to wear to a dinner I have to attend. I am told that it’s socially unacceptable to wear what I arrive to the office in – gym pants and hoodie – at a fancy restaurant in a hotel. So to avoid embarrassing my son and wife with the stares of others, or the possible baring of entry, I am in need of some proper pants.

I do have pants, and my previous office wear, jeans and t-shirts, but what I have recently found out was that they were purchased for someone who was slimmer and more athletic than I am now. My legs wouldn’t even fit in one pair. Thank you carbs.

This revelation was the topper to a week of suffering through what Goggins would call Poopy Pants mentality.

About 10 days ago during a workout I seemed to have strained a minor muscle that connects to my hip, making running impossible. This occurred after having spent a small fortune on a running assessment with a local physio., where we identified some minor issues to work on, so I can get back to training after a year off due to a different injury.

Though I am not ambitious, I’ve long believed in a work harder (and smarter), keep moving forward attitude, and I shudder whenever I hear people talking about being kind to yourself. But this past week I have come the closest I have come yet to just say, what the fuck am I doing this for, and quit.

I’m a big believer in keeping active and functional fitness. So many people my age or even much younger can’t get from point A to B without a car, some can’t bear a couple flights of stairs, and then later many find it hard to even get out of a chair. That’s no way to live and a sure fire way to frequent visits to a doctor, if you can find one.

Running has been a boon to my mental health and the inability to go for a long run has contributed to a more gray outlook towards the world.

Crossfit or functional fitness I describe as essential for injury free movement. Ironically, it’s where all my injuries have come from of late. It has done wonders for my conditioning and I love the intensity of some of the workouts. It keeps my hinge (hips) strong.

I’ve been through this before and worked my way through it, but I wasn’t working 7 days a week then, and there was more extrinsic motivation than what I have now.

Perhaps It is time to reexamine my concept of work life balance and see if I have the energy to work through injuries again.


Book Now!

Once in a blue moon I’d like a break from Marvel movies, and the uncomfortable couch we have in our living room, and go out and watch something quirky.

Luckily we have a cinema in town that plays films outside the mainstream. Unluckily, said cinema has a website that abandoned a utilitarian approach for yet another largely indecipherable WordPress theme.

Who knew that to answer the question, “What films do you have appearing over the next month?,” you would have to “Book Now!”.

The Buzz attempts to fill the gap, but they only feature a partial list.


But who is counting

I’ve written upwards of 35 short stories for kids since winter, or I guess episodes might be more precise since some are multiple parts.

This weeks story is in two parts – a listener asked for a story about being different at school. So I wrote about Fuzzy, who is a fox from Kensington attending The Stratford Academy for Cats and Dogs. Being a fox and not of financial means he is not initially accepted, but goes on to help them win an art competition over last years winner Birchwood.

I’ve written about this theme in the past and many of our listeners seem to identify with it.

For me it’s good fun to do something that I have no background or talent for, other than having a great imagination and the desire to one day put the silly stories in my head to paper.


Pod Stats

Podcast directory stats and their mysterious algorithms provide an interesting window into who is spending more on podcast discovery.

A show appearing out of no where means a company has released a huge sum, and then because for so many companies content is a feature, the show will slowly fade. Then someone else will have a six figure budget and the process continues.

Our move to our new host has had some interesting side effects. The design of their stats interface has serious problems, to the point of being unusable. There is some interesting data contained within, but its hidden behind an almost indecipherable display. Why can’t American companies just do what the Chinese do and copy the best fitting example of a competitor?

The result of this poor UI is that I spend far less time worrying about numbers and more time on … anything else.


My apologies

After living a lifetime in places where you taped your windows shut and enjoyed machine filtered temperature controlled air, it was a relief to return to a northern climate where you cooled your house by opening a window. Except for our bedroom.

In the summer it could be 21°C outside, 23°C in our living room but 28°C in our bedroom. And the temperature would rise from there.

So this year we bought the loudest air conditioner I have ever witnessed, the portable kind since there is some ordnance against in window air conditioners, no doubt to avoid air conditioners falling down on peoples heads like the rain (something that I never heard of in earthquake prone Taiwan).

When we installed it last night I remarked that this would spell the start of the wettest and coolest summer since we returned. And sure enough it’s rainy and cool this morning.


Changes

I’m sitting in St. John at the Second Cup drinking putrid coffee trying to stay awake after a sleepless night. We are here yet again for another few sessions at the Aquatics centre.

I’m supposed to be writing a story about a mouse who is jealous of a dog’s life but when I am tired I am more open to procrastination.

Thursday we signed an agreement with Redcircle for non-exclusive distribution for 3 of our podcasts. If we were more marketing savvy this might warrant a press release, or something similar, but this paragraph with have to suffice. All change entails some risk but the terms and the platform that they gave us makes this an important opportunity. So far the switch has worked seamlessly and the redirects are working as they should.

This agreement also means we are also obligated to publish our funky science podcast, which was a fun experiment for us, and which we have been trying to relaunch for almost 2 years (I can’t believe I have been doing this for that long). There will be less beeps and bops, fart noises and such in this season, and it will focus around Bernice and Papa Bear working on science homework before bed. Bernice and Papa Bear are characters that I created for Sleep Tight Stories, and which I hope to have in print over the summer.


Note on Groceries

The photos above were typical shopping carts for us prior to returning home 4 years ago. At that time fresh protein sources were so cheap, whole chickens were less than $3CAN, that we fed our dogs better than what we sometimes ate ourselves. Feeding them whole chickens or chicken half’s was cheaper than imported processed dog food.

That was the pinnacle of our healthy diet, plenty of greens, good fats, delicious fruits and meat and fish. We would have salmon for breakfast and dinner. Bread was not a staple but a treat, like ice cream. Everything was fresh, and organic out of necessity, as food wasn’t as clean there.

When we first arrived back home I couldn’t understand why, with the exception of lobster, seafood sourced from the Atlantic, particularly salmon, was more expensive here than in Taiwan. But then you could get a PEI lobster sandwich at the movie theatre in Hsinchu for the same price as a bucket of popcorn here.

When you walk into a grocery store in Canada, if you are concerned about the food you eat, you stick to the outside of the store, and avoid the aisles. At RTMart in Hsinchu, the whole foods were all in one square boxy area, though later they got clever and added freezers of processed food just before the checkout aisles to increase profits. At the Superstore, which we started going to because they used to have the best prices and “in store” specials, now has resorted to putting Twizzlers, crackers, and other garbage amongst what used to be the fresh meat section (fresh fish is not a thing here). I took this initially as an ominous sign that real food was not available, but I’m starting to now think it’s just another ploy to get people to buy more high margin crap.

We used to plan our meals for the week, both for convenience and to make sure we were eating well. When food is affordable, you can plan, but now that the price of food has increased exponentially for our family, I go and buy the cheapest protein sources available and start from there. A couple of us have changed our protein sources somewhat, Camren in particular eats more plant protein, which is a good thing. But I think he would agree that eating salmon or steak is preferable to pea or pumpkin seed protein powder.

For the most part, our diet has changed for the worse, and the 20+ lbs I have gained since coming here is in part evidence of that. Some changes are inevitable, there will be no more bowls of sweet mango, sliced guava, lizhi, or bags of thick skinned oranges. The variety of “greens” has decreased somewhat.

Whenever Taiwanese friends would tell me that they left the US because they didn’t like the food, I would try not to show my astonishment at their choice. We live in a region where you can get almost anything you desire, for a price, and yet I am slowly starting to come to understand their point of view. It’s not so much that we can’t get a bowl of delicious beef noodles (you can’t) it’s that fresh food is expensive to the point of unattainability.

I tend to exaggerate, but first COVID, and now yet another insane war in Europe is making it more difficult for families to afford fresh food – even potato chips are overpriced.

Unfortunately, no place is immune to inflated food prices, and I understand the cheap protein sources we used to buy in the past are no longer as cheap today.


Saint John Redux

We are in Saint John again, this time for Canada Games trials. Camren is trying to join PEI’s swim team to compete this summer.

Swimming as a sport is not something I completely understand, and not just because I myself can’t swim, but due to its extremely technical nature. Also, at the amateur there is often a disparity in skill levels which makes the races, less of a race.

It’s interesting to watch Camren progress through all the training and effort he puts into everything. With 6am CrossFit classes, 5 swimming practices a week, work, school and even a social life, he is the epitome of grit. If the people of my generation don’t succeed in destroying the world, I see a wonderful future for him.

As we are here for 4 days there was no way we were going endure the hotel experience we had last time. So we booked an Airbnb which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, in places like Charlottetown I see STR’s as a contributing factor to the housing crisis and the decline of the downtown. On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that this experience we are having is far superior to any hotel we could have booked. I don’t see hotels in this part of the world stepping up their game anytime soon.

I noticed this the last time we were here, but uptown Saint John is sketchy as hell. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt I had to be aware of my surroundings. In Charlottetown your greatest concern is cars vs. pedestrians/cyclers, especially monster trucks. I almost got hit by one of those tanks last week at an intersection crosswalk when he couldn’t see me and I am 6ft too short.


Update on A Quick Change

January felt like a tough month and in an effort to ensure some control over my life and keep moving forward, I proposed a few bullets of change.

As with many of the bullet lists I create, I didn’t get through it all, partially due to laziness and also in no small part due to contracting COVID.

My biggest disappointment is certainly my inability to ramp up my physical activity (thank you lungs) and the ever increasing middle aged paunch. The greatest gift that returning to the Island has given is 20lbs of weight gain.

The healthy diet we had in Taiwan is just a little bit harder to replicate here and the bread just a little bit more abundant and tasty.

Dreams of running an ultra without excessive injury are drifting away.

What I have accomplished is reading, and though not on the list writing. I’ve managed to read 8 books since the 15th of January and average 2-3 short stories a week. For many I know, my daughter included, this isn’t cause for celebration, but based on my previous habits, it’s a good start.

Now that I seem to be rid of all effects of COVID, and it’s still a big PITA for the vaccinated and healthy, I hope I can slowly spend more time on physical activity with perhaps a race in the fall.


Help still required

It’s that time again, time to update my payment information across multiple systems. Luckily this only happens once every four years or so, as this interaction illustrates why companies still need to hire someone people with an eye for detail and a ounce of empathy for their customers.

Kudos to PayPal who somewhat uncomfortably updates this info automatically.

Unfortunately, Pair Networks has no area to update your payment details in their VPS account that I could find, unlike their shared hosting which has a completely different UI. Parent company Libsyn, hides billing information in a different place for their Enterprise accounts. Public Mobile uses tiny text as an afterthought and their database is so slow you need to wait 2 minutes for each screen change. And the list goes on …

Every time I think there must be so many accepted UI patterns that work, that there must be no more work for those people concerned with their customers experience, I come across situations like this.

I’ve allocated a couple of hours for this. I hope it will be enough.


Like a fine wine

I can think of no better analogy to describe the cup of coffee I had at The Shed on Monday. After a weekend of drinking coffee from the likes of The Java Moose and The Second Cup it was particularly refreshing to taste coffee’s true potential.


See you again St. John

This past weekend found us in St. John, NB, a city I don’t think I have ever visited but may have driven to when I would have been too young to realize where I was.

We were there for Camrens swimming meet, his first off-Island meet and the largest since COVID turned kids lives upside down.

The uptown is full of wonderful architecture with intricate detail and I loved the sturdy old brick homes. At the same time there was a certain edge to the place, which might be due to it’s current and past industrial activities, but also the poverty that was evident for all to see. The uptown suffers from the same fate as Charlottetown, as it’s extremely quiet, with few locals about, as most prefer to live in the outer edges and shop and eat at the soulless big box stores. It’s a shame that it is only tourists who appreciate an interesting downtown.

St. John is home to not only Crosby Molasses, but also a couple fine coffee roasters, which I will get to brew over the coming week. Drinking copious amounts of coffee there re-affirms to me just how lucky we are to have The Shed. There is no comparison.

We are looking forward to going back to St. John in the first week of May for Canada Games trials, and we’ve already booked an AirBnB for that period. The hotel’s in Saint John look like they haven’t had much in the way of investment for 20 years, and at least in the place we stayed, it shows.


1,000,000

We passed a particular milestone recently as we reached 1,000,000 downloads over a 30 day period with Sleep Tight Stories.

Downloads as a metric of success are fraught with inadequacies; I could like others, shorten our episodes and publish every day of the week, and our downloads would certainly go up. Rankings on Apple Podcasts are somewhat the same, though supposedly more qualitative, they are but one measurement.

If you asked me how to create a podcast and get to even greater reach than ours I could tell you. If you asked me how we did it, I couldn’t, because we haven’t really done much of anything, other than to consistently create and improve our audio over a long period of time. My wife and are very “quiet”, so much so that you might think that we have a “we don’t talk about podcasting” rule ala fight club. Other than 2 cheap ads on Overcast we haven’t advertised, haven’t done any cross promotion, collabs, or been featured in any publications whatsoever. I seldom talk to other podcasters, nor do I network. And we live on PEI, which is not what you would call a hotbed of children’s entertainment, or a hotbed of anything really.

This is all a fault, and yet here we are.

We are not particularly ambitious. I like creating audio that kids enjoy, and that helps kids relax and get a good nights rest. And now that much of our current material is written by myself, I can tailor our stories specifically to their needs and interests. We aren’t setting ourselves up for a sale, or to join Amazon or iHeart, or be an “exclusive” Spotify podcast (they don’t advertise to kids anyway, so we wouldn’t be attractive to them), we just hope to continue making something meaningful to ourselves and our audience.

So, here’s to reaching 2,000,000 per month.


Commute view

Sheryl spent a few days in Truro this week which meant I was without a car, so I took the opportunity to run to and from my office in the downtown. It’s not really that long a walk either.


Madness

The Aston Origin has been a part of the sound of our podcasts and voice over for almost 2 years. It’s a condenser microphone and has all the advantages and disadvantages that most apparently have.

I can’t remember the exact reasoning for selecting this brand, but I’m sure reviews, price and the mic’s aesthetic had something to do with it.

While it sounds fine, I’ve always struggled with it’s idiosyncrasies – it’s sensitive and as such picks up every little crackle and pop, mouth clicks and environmental noise present. This makes the environment we record in critical and sometimes editing a pain.

In terms of sound, I’ve always found that the mic is missing a certain clarity or openness in the mid-upper range. Something I have heard from others, and something I haven’t been able to add in production.

Aston has had a couple sales of late and when they were selling at a significant discount at Long and McQuade I jumped at the chance at purchasing the Aston Stealth to see if a “broadcast quality” dynamic microphone might make for a noticeable improvement and perhaps alleviate some of the issues we have with the Origin.

It’s different, not better. I’ve been struggling for hours listening to my voice and Sheryl’s speaking into the mic. I’ve produced finished work and I’ve listened to raw recordings. I cannot discern a noticeable improvement, and the back and forth is driving me to madness.

I’m hoping they will take it back.


A New Place

I dropped into The 5th Wave this morning as I was determined to spend time drinking coffee amongst the backdrop of people and their chatter after being stuck inside for so long. My first stop was The Shed but I swear it has been closed more often than open whenever I have dropped by this winter.

The 5th Wave has the advantage of a convenient location and an interior set-up conductive to staying for longish periods that make for a pleasant experience. It’s bright and geared towards a younger clientele; more Japanese minimalist than College bookstore. The music in the shop is front and centre, which is almost always a mistake, as it was at The Shed, and many other places who don’t think of audio as an integral part of their experience.

Yesterday when spending time at The Shed I remarked that their drip coffee tasted better than my pour over. It was quite good, and their pour over is even better. Buying black drip or pour over defines to me the character of a coffee shop. That’s what I ordered today at The 5th Wave. Their drip is a med-dark roast with a flavour profile not unlike many other slightly upscale coffee shops like Receivers. It wasn’t distinctive or great, but it was fine. They don’t do their own roasting and much of the flavour of coffee is dependent on freshness, so they are perhaps at a disadvantage in developing a uniquely flavoured product.

I’ll come back for an expresso again in the near future, and would certainly prefer spending time in their bright environment than say the darkness of the Victoria Row Receivers or Alambé Coffee.


Returning to normalcy

It’s wonderful to be out of isolation and able to move about. It’s especially great to be able to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; coffee shops being the only place in Charlottetown in winter where you can actually be around people (I don’t do bars and there are no co-working hubs).

I delayed going back to CrossFit as we tend to be in close contact with others no matter how stringent we follow public health guidelines.

Whether my symptoms were a result of COVID or simply a chest cold, or whether there is a difference I won’t know. The medical system can no longer test people let alone give people a detailed diagnosis.

What I do know is that it’s been close to 2 weeks since onset of symptoms, 10 days since I had my positive result, and I still don’t feel anywhere close to 100%. I would never expect that my lifestyle would make for a teflon armour against illness, but I am surprised at how long it is taking me to bounce back.

Today the sun is shining and coffee tastes and smells like coffee again, so life feels good.


COVID Files

We are nearing the end of our required isolation period. I have gone outside each day – yesterday for a walk, and later a short run. The day before I went out and pushed some wet snow around. Fresh air and exercise is a decent antidote to many things.

Sheryl is still largely asymptomatic but with enough cold symptoms that it is affecting her voice, which is problematic when we have voice over work to do. Her experience shows that rapid tests are fallible. She has been asymptomatic all along, tested negative each and everyday, but when getting a pcr test, had a positive result.

Camren is back to normal and is competing in the open tonight, and has a swim meet on Sunday. Catriona is still testing negative, likely because she spends all her time in her room.

I still have a chest cold which I had before I first tested negative and later tested positive. Because of the constant coughing, sleep hasn’t been possible this week, which has an effect on my mood, and my ability to do the things I want to do. I often wondered if those who refuse to follow public health guidelines never get sick or perhaps don’t care about not accomplishing much if they do. I can’t stand putting plans on hold while my body recovers.

One symptom which is disconcerting, is that all the coffee I have been drinking this week tastes vaguely like vomit. This after just ordering a box of coffee from a roaster in Truro (of all places). I’m hoping this is temporary.


Brain fog

I’m sitting here trying to write a children’s story and a short missive about our listener growth but am incapable of stringing sentences together in a coherent manner. I’m experiencing total and complete brain fog.

Camren was the first to test positive for COVID and is back at school today. Sheryl and I both tested positive later, and are both isolating until the weekend. Catriona is enjoying her alone time and ordering food via Door Dash. Camren suffered from sore throat and headaches, and I have a cough from hell, which has meant no sleep. Sheryl is asymptomatic.

Life is grand.


Decline

I couldn’t find my wallet yesterday, usually it’s my keys, or some other item necessary for interfacing with modern society, like a mask. In winter I wear much the same, day in and day out, and the slight deviation yesterday sent me for a loop. I left my wallet in a hidden pocket I forgot about.

It’s common to joke when you reach middle age about early onset of dementia, except it’s no joke. As you get older you might settle into a routine, or you get busy, stressed, or all of these things. Throw in what has now become banal, the pandemic and the misguided protests against public health, and I guess I could be forgiven for being absent minded. But I can’t help but think that my life has been considerably dumbed down.

Living in fast paced cities where everyday presented some challenge, constantly needing to study a hard language, using that language daily, the stresses of work and communicating with people, intense exercise and an international travel habit that entailed no planning whatsoever made for a more nimble mind.

There are few such challenges these days. Life here is pretty sedate, with the pandemic even more so.

The only answer I have to this, is to try and find something new that I curious about, but have little experience with, and try to gain some expertise. I’m just not sure what that will be yet.


Story Writing

There are a number of opportunities for growth when working for yourself, a lot of goals to accomplish, a decent breadth of tasks to finish. I’ve ticked many boxes these past couple of years but there were still a few things I wanted to try before making any decisions on the future of our work. One was music composition, and the other was story writing, which I wrote about in October.

Writing children’s stories has been a slow process, and though I have been writing scripts, rewriting dated and often violent fairy tales consistently, original writing was rife with procrastination. So inefficient was my writing that despite finishing a number of stories, I decided that it wasn’t going to be viable over the long term.

Except that I started to receive reviews and email’s about the stories I wrote. Kids started asking when the next chapter was coming and this morning I received a couple email, one stating that their kids were hooked on one story, and hoping there would be another very soon, and another whose son felt “understood, less alone, validated, and comforted” after listening to one of my stories.

I’m a bit overwhelmed.

I’m not a writer, but there seems to be a greater opportunity to connect with children via podcasts than I had really considered before. It would seem it’s worth finding a way to get over this procrastination issue, take time to improve the craft, and … get an editor.


Disagreements

Disagreements and differences of opinion are part of what makes a place vibrant, interesting and at times annoying.

You like tea, and think coffee tastes like shit. I love coffee and think tea tastes like pee. But we both can agree that sitting together drinking our favourite beverage leads to some interesting conversations.

But how do you discuss an issue with someone when their opinion has been formed based on complete fabrications? Fabrications from sources they trust. And they believe that your sources are complete garbage.

In business, decisions aren’t always based on good research, data, or any research at all. Sometimes good design loses over another approach. The results can be a loss of money, maybe a lot, or maybe nothing happens at all. In the public sphere that could mean a loss of life.

There will always be complete assholes of course, but how do you bridge this gap when the issues are important?


What am I? And do I care?

My son asked me last night what a graphic designer does, and I gave him the standard definition that floats around visual communication and the mediums in which they generally work.

He then asked me if this is what I do or what I call myself.

I said no, though it once was close to what I once did (my concentration in grad school was also visual communication) but it’s not a title that I would have or would use now. I left it at that because I didn’t really know what else to say. He knows what I do, but I guess as part of this foolish CEO class they take in high school they discuss job titles and he is trying to find how to fit my square peg in their round holes.

The work I do today ticks a lot of boxes for me. We are a success in so far that we have built products that people love. Unfortunately, despite making an income that should be enough (but isn’t), from work that I could continue doing till my mind turns to mush, I made a decision a while back that the likelihood that I can continue is pretty low.

Last year I ran a research project, interviewing 15 different people, local and remote, to get a sense of job prospects, their methods of success, and how I might now fit in the grand scheme of things. The reason to do such a thing was I guessed I would soon need to become an employee, not an employer. I analysed and abstracted the results, which in turn gave me action items. But I didn’t take action because I was having a great time doing what I was doing.

I don’t care much for job titles, if you ask what I do, I just say I make products for kids. But many employers seem to care and computers that scan CV’s care.

Much of the work I do still involves design at some level, but I’m not a graphic designer, nor UX, nor a product designer (whatever that is). Nor am I podcast producer or audio engineer. I’m certainly not a CEO. None of these levels of abstraction seem to work with me; maybe I’ll just string together a bunch of words like they used to do years ago in startups like (but add product and UX for SEO): Dream (Product) Alchemist, (UX) Happiness Engineer or a title used years ago when I was at the Creativity Lab, Creative Disruptor.


Optimism

After our last set of restrictions from the CPHO I wrote a missive about what I had hoped to do to maintain my sanity midst the never ending deluge of negativity (and rage) that seems to accompany life on the Island of late.

With the exception of getting outside, I still am not a fan of winter, I’ve read a few books, exercised far more and have paid increasing attention to the food I eat.

I’ve also disconnected from most of social media, with the exception of Instagram, the Internets greatest source of unrealistic body image expectations.

Despite this I’ve found it increasingly difficult to maintain a positive attitude. I’m generally not what you would call a positive person on the best of days, but the current environment makes it hard to maintain my usual salty/not salty equilibrium. Let alone make the kind of change needed to transform myself to having a more positive outlook.

Peter linked to Charlie Angus On Getting from Darkness to the Light which helped for a moment.

I think all I can do is acknowledge the negativity, move on and keep achieving the goals set in front of me, and hope that the sun of Spring and Summer bring with it a greater sense of optimism.


Literacy

When you sit and wonder how so many people can believe what they do with regards to all matter of topics, but most importantly these days, public health, it’s important to first ponder the following statistic:

“For years, we have seen data that says 46 percent of Islanders struggle with the basic literacy required to work and thrive in our knowledge-based, digital society,” – source

“In 2003, it was estimated that 40,000 (nearly 43%) of PEI residents who were 16 to 65-years old had literacy levels below the desired level of coping (Statistics Canada, 2003, p.107)”

The problem doesn’t seem to be improving.

Now couple this with the algorithms behind social media platforms manipulating people with disinformation and we can come to a possible understanding of why we are where we are.


Workplace fashion

I haven’t had to dress well for work in over 20 years, with smart casual being as fancy as ever needed. Mostly my uniform of choice has been jeans and a t-shirt, maybe leather shoes if necessary. But a combination of working alone and the pandemic has created a whole new level of comfort. Sweat pants, comfy sandals and running socks are now the norm for me. I get some looks from other olds like myself when I’m shopping for groceries, but I could care less. This habit is here to stay.