Interview with Brian Ledwell, 03/31/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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JK: This is Josh Kridelbaugh interviewing Brian Ledwell on Thursday, March 31, 2022. For Campus COVID stories student Nate Stokhaug is also with us. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us today. Before we get started, can you please state your name and spell it for us?

BL: Sure. Brian Ledwell, B R I A N L E D W E L L

JK: I appreciate that. Now for the purposes of getting a good audio recording, tell us who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

BL: Brian Ledwell, the Canvas Administrator.

JK: So before we dive in your campus COVID story, we would like to get you know get to know you a little better. So tell us about where you grew up, went to high school etc. Like your hometown and stuff.

BL: I grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, the home of Cedar Point, the "Amazement Park". 00:01:00And I graduated from Margareta high school, I went on to the University of Toledo and then finished my degrees over in the University of Idaho.

JK: Interesting, so you kind of told us where your degrees were. So how did you end up at UWO? When and what was your first position here?

BL: Well, I graduated from the University of Idaho with an art degree in sculpture. And while I was there, I had to take some classes in computer stuff, which I got really good at. And I enjoyed. And so I started applying around to different, you know, jobs, right, because that's what you do, when you have, you know, nowhere else to go. So this one came up, and I had applied for it. And I didn't hear back and I moved back to Ohio in shame to live with my parents. And I wasn't there but maybe a week or so before I got the the interview for this 00:02:00job. And that's, that's I came here to do that.

JK: So can you tell us about your position at UWO, and then after you do that, tell us about what it was like pre-COVID before March of 2020. Like describe what you do, what you're responsible for, and things like that.

BL: In 2018, we switched our learning management system from D2L Desire to Learn to Canvas. So there was a fairly long, like a two year long process of converting over from one to the other from decision making to actually having people get their hands in the system. And we had we were getting people in right before COVID hit. I mean, everybody was you know, we're all moving in the canvas, and everyone was feeling pretty good about it. And it seemed to be going pretty well. And then in 2019 and 2020, then the madness ensued.

JK: Correct, Yeah. So now let's move on to the early days of COVID. When was the first time you remember hearing about COVID-19? And what was your initial 00:03:00reaction to the news?

BL: It was, well, the first time hearing about it in the news was probably I don't know, a couple months before I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to the news. But I saw it and my initial reaction was it seemed to me that it was a lot of fear mongering that because that's what the news is right? And then once you get your to read their stories, right, so everything has to be "oh my god, you're gonna die" if you don't read this kind of thing. You know, you everybody has to be panicking about everything all the time. And so I pretty much ignored it. I didn't think anything about it. And a little bit of foreshadowing maybe two, three weeks before we got into lockdown. I had a meeting with a bunch of people from UW system that we're dealing with video and we all share online video storage repository called Kaltura. And during that meeting, one of one of my friends who was at that meeting who works for another UW systems school, he was asking very strange questions. And one of the 00:04:00questions he asked was something like, "how bulletproof our systems, you know, if we were to go and all completely online with video, could our systems handle it?" And I found that to be really weird, because he was he was very cagey. You know, and I was asking him questions. What do you mean? And finally, because with anybody who's cagey, I want to poke at them. I'm like, Okay, what are you really talking about? What's going on man? Then so after a few questions, he finally broke down and said, well, our chancellor is asking the question if we have to shut down are our systems able to handle it, which was the first time that I went, Oh, this is kind of a big deal. Right. So yeah, it was very interesting but as a lot of foreshadowing of what was to come, but I didn't, I still didn't think it would shut I had no just didn't, man, I used to walk to 00:05:00work every day. And I did it for years. And in the winter in the summer, I live about two miles from campus. I have walked to work on solid sheets of ice, I'd watched cars skid around, the university hadn't shut down. I walked in rain and hail, I walked in snow past my knees to get to work, the university has never shut down. I did not think for a second, the university would shut down until it did.

JK: So how would you describe your feelings about the disease itself kind of around that time and maybe what it is like now?

BL: I didn't really think too much about the disease. I really watched-- I was interested in more the people around the disease and the things that happened around the disease, you know, the madness that was ensuing, the weird leadership that arose and the weird sorts of bizarre, apparent, you know, like conspiracy 00:06:00theories that sort of popped up. And while I find you know, I actually love a good conspiracy theory. I think they're very creative. I think I think the more creative you can be with a conspiracy theory, it's kind of fun, except, you know, when people start showing up with guns at pizza shops, you're like, Dude, you know, this is going a little far, right? I mean, but you know, I love creative people. I love creative ideas. And but man, it is so sort of took on a life of its own. But yeah, it was it was weird, but I sort of I didn't really think about the disease, I still don't have a whole lot of you know, hate the disease. It isn't nothing to do with a disease. It's a thing, right? And it's all about how, how the leadership told us what to do, and in the directions they were giving us in this information, and that kind of thing. So you know, we have, you know, it's just crazy. You have like Donald Trump telling me how to 00:07:00not to catch this, you know, communicable disease. Fuck that. You know what I mean? So anyway.

JK: So let's talk about your situation when the university closed the campus in mid March. What are your feelings as everything UWO, the major sports leagues, and pretty much everywhere else in mid March starting shutting down all the sudden? I know, we kind of touched on it. But Can you just elaborate a little more?

BL: Yeah. Well, on March the 12th, and I remember it because it's my birthday. So in March, the 12th, I got an email from everybody that actually from the leadership at UWO, that we were shutting down. And we had the next week, I think it was a Wednesday, it was March 12, I'd have to look to be sure. But we had the rest of that week that faculty were not going to be in classes. And the week after that we could get ready the week after was the week of spring break, which was oddly comforting, because you know, there's a little bit of time to get up 00:08:00and ready. And then there's a lot of things that you had to do. So we had to like pack our stuff up here because we had to go home, right, so we had to get set up at home. And then we had to deal with the ramifications of that. So we had lots of faculty calling and lots of you know, faculty who had never used Canvas before or used any of these systems mean, it's amazing how many people that are teaching that really don't use technology, right, that are needed to and now they do and so now they're at your front door going, Dude, what do I do? I've never done this before. And so there was lots of things that had to be created in very, very quickly, lots of emergency type creation, website creation, that kind of thing. But it was interesting because I had a Facebook post on the day of March, the 12th, which amounted to I wrote this Facebook post 00:09:00which said, This day of March 12, 2020 On my birthday, Broadway's shut down, the NCAA was canceled. The place of work, getting classes are canceled and events, emergency under the gun content and website creation. Local schools shutting down, Disneyland closes. Donald Trump educating me on avoiding the communicable disease, which was curious. New Mutants movie getting delayed again. And an odd run on toilet paper. Nobody could get toilet paper right? Out of all the things to hoard toilet paper was one of the things people hoarded and I ended by saying this has been a surreal day. One year later, I wrote on the same day at wrote Boroadway returned to Times Square NCAA slowly limping back to the court, Classes starting to meet face to face again. No emergency creation of anything 00:10:00today. Local schools starting to meet face to face again, Disneyland partially open. Donald Trump has fucking gone. Way off, my heart has been lifted, saw the New Mutants movie, it was fun. I blew my nose with toilet paper today. And I didn't count the sheets. So that was that was the one year later the two different Facebook posts which are very different.

JK: Yeah. So moving on describe what happened in your department like what you guys discuss with your team and who is your team and what needed to be done. When guys the campus shut down.

BL: I work in IT. There's a lot of people that I work with, but the immediate people that I work with is Rick Landvetter and Rob Clancy. And Wayne Abelar. Wayne Abelar works with our video creation group. Well, he is the group he is 00:11:00one guy, right? Rick is my backup Canvas administrator and Rob is sort of works a little bit with all of us, he kind of fills in little areas and helps where we need help with it. And we had a conversation as to how we're going to get this started, we need to immediately create training sessions, we need to immediately get people up to speed. So we had to start those sorts of planning. And we I think we had, I set up training sessions twice a day for every day, for the next few weeks just to get people up and running. And to very basic level, we weren't even trying to get good teaching, we just wanted to get people in online, right? And be able to get them okay, this is how you post a thing online. This is how you get a quiz online. This is how you, Hey, man, you want to shoot a video. This is how you shoot a video as easily as possible. So, in order to do that, I 00:12:00needed to set up my home equipment as well. So I needed to make sure that I was set up at home. And initially I'd set up in my bedroom, which actually is kind of nice, but it looks nice. And so I had a table set up at a nice backdrop. I created a little a document camera, it was a home built document camera made out of PVC, like really cheap. And the whole idea was when I was teaching people how to create video cheaply. Like, look, you don't need to have a document camera, because one of the problems that we had almost immediately was the inability to get technology; couldn't buy it, you know, go to Best Buy all your webcams were gone. Microphones gone. Right? But you could make your own document camera. Yeah, it's not gonna be the best thing in the world, you're gonna have zoom features or that kind of thing. But you can make a camera point down. And you can do it with a little bit of PVC. And I showed people how I did this. And the idea was that you could do it too. If you wanted to have your own document 00:13:00camera but couldn't afford it. Couldn't find one. You could make one. And so and then that's how the document camera thing got started was I created this thing. And it was just for me to show people. I didn't think it would go any further than that. The other thing that we did we met with a lot of leadership teams on you know what's going to happen now that we're not going to be able to meet face to face for a while, what do we have to deal with one of those things we had to deal with was proctoring. So you have a lot of instructors that need to have tests proctored. So how do they do that without having access to testing services. So we had to start planning for that and buying incredibly expensive software packages, in order to do proctoring the software, by the way, is amazing in the software behind doing proctoring is just, it's just pretty impressive. If you ever get into that kind of thing, scary. And it is one of those things that you feel like you're being watched, because you are it is 00:14:00invasive, no one likes it. But it is amazing software, but having to plan for those kinds of things and then having to make sure you're set up at home. And you know, start you know inter connecting with faculty, you know, hey, put it out there, you know, you have you've never used this thing before. Let's get you in will meet with you face to face. What can I do to help you as someone who is a new faculty member, someone who has maybe never had to use a system like this before? Maybe they taught pit classes, you know, face to face all the time, which we had plenty of. How do you deal with 300 People, 200 People all on one Canvas class? And sometimes the answer is look, we just need to help you limp by, we just right now, we're not talking about quality. We just need to get through the semester, survive the semester. And it was amazing to me how Understanding that people were you know, they were calling you up and they were 00:15:00like, "Oh my God, I've never done this before." And I'm so scared because I don't know how to do X. All right? Well, let's sit down, and we'll talk about it, and we'll get you set up. Don't worry, the world's not gonna end, it'll be fine. And, you know, it was one, it was one of the lessons that I learned is that, you know, emergencies don't mean panic. Emergencies still mean? You can have lunch, you know, and before this before this COVID madness happened. That was really how I approached emergency, I didn't have many emergencies. But whenever anybody said emergency, and of course, they always put it in the subject line of an email. It was drop everything and fix this one thing. And now it's like, you know, emergencies. It's okay. It's important, but we'll get to it. So it was a very interesting learning experience for me. But yeah, doing the planning, getting my gear set up at home, I'm making sure that my my software 00:16:00was up to date and ready and that my internet connection was solid and stable. I'm fairly fortunate I live within the city of Oshkosh. So I have options, people who were in rural areas really got screwed. I mean, there were lots of people in rural areas that had horrible, horrible connections. It was also another learning experience for me is that you know, how ill prepared the US is, for something like this to happen, we have allowed it, because there's money involved, right? We have allowed it to our high speed internet connections to not not be accessible to people that are rural, we have allowed companies and businesses to dictate to us our connection speed, they don't need that out there. There's only four or five of them. You know what, they need it out there, then there's only four or five of them. And yes, you need to get it to them. So it was definitely a learning experience. But it was a good one.

JK: So you kind of touched on this and everything. But some of these employee 00:17:00roles on campus were deemed essential and that they were like instructed to come to work and in person and stuff. So were you among that group stay on campus are you told to go home

BL: I was never laid off. I don't know that I was technically considered essential. I think of the essential employees as those that had to come in, they had to come in to make sure projectors worked and that they had to clean the facilities. They had to, you know, deal with the testing areas, that kind of thing. Those people were essential. I don't I don't know that. I would have been classified as essential in that regard. But I did not get laid off when so many people got laid off. Because they you know, they needed me and they needed people in my area to make sure the technology worked. I didn't worry about that.

JK: So you you were able to work from home so can you describe your your work setup a little more along with the PVC and things?

BL: Yeah, I had, well, you know, I have computers at home anyway, I'm pretty a 00:18:00technical guy. So I was I was I was pretty ready for it. I just needed to move everything in a more comfortable location. And at the time, my girlfriend also worked from home and so she worked in the front of the house and I worked in the back of the house and it was actually kind of nice. I'm pretty much don't need to go out I don't party I don't do any of those things like that. I'm already a hobbit you know, I already live at home. And I've built the my environment around making myself comfortable. So hey man I was okay, I just needed to move some things around. And it was interesting because I was I had prepared to remodel a room anyway to make it an office. So while I was in my bedroom, preparing and getting the emergency taken care of, I started the remodeling had to have other people helped me with it. But I started the remodeling project so that I would have something more permanent to move into which I eventually did 00:19:00after maybe six months to a year.

JK: Can you please describe your typical day of work early in the early in the pandemic? Like maybe like March and April, like what your days looked like?

BL: Oh, it was it was you know, it's funny because I maybe two weeks before that maybe a couple months before that I started playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). I've never played it before in my life. And I had met some new friends that were into D&D, and they invited me to start this new game that they were getting going. And D&D games like can last for years. Like okay, cool, and we were going to get together like every Wednesday. And I remember very clearly, I had been having a good time I was playing with them. Every Wednesday we would get together face to face and then the lockdowns happen and we couldn't do that anymore. So we came up with a way to do it online. So on during that week, I met with them on online to play a game that was kind of nice to kind of detach from Everything, but I was exhausted. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep in the 00:20:00middle of the game, I literally my head, just my chair went back, my head went back, I fell asleep. And it was exhausting. It was, funny because, you know, it wasn't physically doing it. It wasn't, you know, moving cars, I wasn't moving computers from one place, but mentally it was taxing, because it was an awful lot of things to keep track of all at the same time, you got to keep the proctoring stuff, you got to figure out how to pay for it, you got to communicate with these people who are pretty high up on the food chain, in ways where, you know, I don't use the expletive you know, I've used an expletive all the time, right. So you can't you can't tell the provost Oh, fuck it, you know that kind of thing you have to kind of be careful of, but it was mentally taxing. And so yeah, I fell asleep during the D&D game. But my day to day activities, were man, it was twice a day I was doing a training sessions. I was 00:21:00writing documentations, I was writing knowledgebase articles, I was creating websites, I was communicating with vendors and people to try to make sure that we're ready. And then when we had issues happen, like, you know, we had, all of a sudden the systems that we were relying on, really weren't ready for to be hit all at the same time, you have to remember, like, we're also changing things in the middle, we were starting, like zoom, all of a sudden came in, we're using different software. And everybody got hit all at the same time. Those companies and they're like, Oh, my God, you know, this response is slow. And then you have instructors calling in, I couldn't do my class because this happened. Well, okay, it's an emergency, but it's not a panic, you know, it is a, alright, we can deal with this, we need to, and we maintaining those, those relationships, and making sure that everybody knew what was going on communicating, you know, writing these emails that took, it seemed like hours writing emails that because 00:22:00I hate sending emails out to hundreds of faculty members. I do it all the time. But I hate doing it. Because I don't spell well. And I don't have great grammar. And so I have to really read everything that I write to make sure I sound you know, somewhat intelligent when I send these things out to people who are way more intelligent than I am. So, those things are mentally taxing. And so just at the end of the day, you were just exhausted.

JK: Absolutely. What were your biggest challenges regarding your work from home in the makeshift cameras? Actually, I let's just go with that, what were your biggest challenges you think?

BL: Well, you couldn't see anybody and getting people online getting people to okay, look, we need to meet, I can't see what it is you're telling me is 00:23:00happening. I would get emails from people saying this, you know, Canvas doesn't work. Okay, what doesn't work? I mean, you need to be specific with me. Like, I would get emails that said in the subject line. This is down. Well, I can see it's not down What are you talking about? And so it was, it was sort of, like I need to get people comfortable with meeting with me, through teams, or through a video or through phone, anything to avoid emails that require me to write four emails to figure out what it is you're talking about. So and usually it's not Canvas thats down, It's something stupid, right? Something really easy. That would take four hours in emails going back and forth, then it would take you know, 20 seconds on the telephone, oh, we just need to click this button. That kind of thing. That kind of thing was was very challenging.

JK: So I noticed that you're, you're pretty motivated, and you helped a lot of 00:24:00people What was your biggest motivation from is waking up every day and helping people like that, even though it was really mentally taxing?

BL: I think it was, it was a challenge. It was It was exciting. You know, even though it was challenging. It was like, okay, you know, I need to help people. People need my help, right? They can't do this themselves. And that was that was very exciting for me. And I got to and I still do, interact with UW system differently. Now I work you know, it's it's kind of a it's a nice way of working now, I think. But yeah, it was, that was very exciting for me to get up and just go okay, I have in my head, I know, I need to talk to people, and I need to help them out and people are going to call me and you know what was great, is you got emails back from people who would say things like, Thanks, you know, or they would say, you know, look, man, this this really helped me out. And I was in a terrible situation. And this really helped me out. And so those emails really helped me I know a lot of people don't like getting thank you emails. I do. I love it. I love it. And I thrive on it. I go back and reread.


JK: So moving on a little bit here, what challenges were you facing coming into the fall 2020 semester, and just like, kind of describe what you needed to be done in your department, things like that, to bring us back.

BL: So going back to starting out since like when the COVID just happened?

JK: No, I'm saying when we come back for the fall semester, like, in that would be September.

BL: Oh. So after So COVID had been going on for a while, and then fall starts. And then we start getting, we started getting more people back in classes, right? Yep. Yeah, more people started coming back. For me, I noticed that well, there was a significant reduction in workload, because it was, you ended up with people who did not want to deal with the technology, who found ways around it. And they were maybe they had to do a hybrid kind of thing. But they were still meeting with the students in person. So for me, it was less having to help people that were afraid of or couldn't deal with the technology. So that for me, 00:26:00that was kind of nice. To be able to have that happen, people get back to their comfort zones A little closer. But you know what? One nice thing about it is that, because of this, people now know what our capabilities are, you know, they may have never used video systems before. And now they do it. They know they can do it. And maybe they don't use them all the time. Maybe they use it once a year. And that's cool, too. I'm here to help whenever they need it.

JK: Has your job changed because of the pandemic? And then did the workload increase or decrease? We kind of touched on that, and what type of work changed when talking to people and such? Or is it just kind of stayed the same, just in different ways.

BL: Well, the workload has changed, because I think people are using the systems more than they did before. So they're definitely using systems like teams, they're using zoom, they're using Canvas even more than they were doing before 00:27:00the pandemic. So, you know, they see the value in them, they see that they need to use them, and they have to use them to help students and to be able to teach effectively. So, the workload has gone up, but it's not bad. It's, it's it's still a good thing. The technology is helping us out.

JK: So last question for me here. What are the what are you most proud of in regards of what do you do? As the for the universities? COVID response? What were you most proud of in the whole situation of being locked down and stuff and then coming back now?

BL: The thing I'm most proud of is that I don't think we failed. I think we did a pretty good job with everything that we had. We don't have a huge staff. Our IT department is bare bones, man. I mean, it's for a while there, we were cutting bone. We have have one Canvas administrator, one of me right. And I think we did pretty good considering the the emergency crisis that we were in. 00:28:00So I'm pretty proud of that, that we were able to work together and make sure that you know, nothing exploded. Nobody died. We went Oh, my sorry. But you know what I mean? Right? You know, as a campus we survived.

JK: The I'm 100% agreeants are really appreciate you guys did.

NS: Okay. This is Nate Stokhaug part two of the interview with Brian Ledwell. So in the fall of 2021, vaccines are ready, readily available on campus and were strongly advocated by the administration and the CDC. What were your initial reactions to the vaccine?

BL: When can I sign up? You know, it was you're getting a new superpower, man. I mean, it's it's like, you know, yes, you know, I'm Steve Rogers and put me in this frickin machine. Absolutely. Give me Give me make my body stronger. Absolutely. Sign me up.


NS: How much do you feel things are getting back to normal and for that matter, what is normal for you?

BL: I don't think things are back to normal. They're they're not going to be what we remember. And there's both good things and bad things about that, you know, bad things is a supply chain issues are rough. Right now getting technology is difficult. Buying a new car is difficult. Those kinds of things are still difficult to do and they're going to be difficult in the future. Some good things that came about it is that people figured out ways of surviving. I mean, they use Uber, eat street all these different places there people have jobs now than they're delivering food and in those things are great. And I you know, I learned that you know what, you know, I never really liked going to restaurants to eat anyway. And so I'm happy getting good food from a good restaurant with But I don't have to actually deal with other people I can they 00:30:00can come to my house and I can watch TV and, and do my own thing, right. So those kinds of things were, I kind of learned from it.

NS: Exactly. That's very understandable. Um, knowing what you know, now, what would you have done differently in relation to your pandemic response?

BL: I think I would have, I think I would have panicked less, I would have been less stressed out about things. Even though things seemed like they were panic worthy at the time, I think I would have been able to go, okay. I can have something to eat. Matter of fact, I need to have something to eat, I need to have something to drink. And I need to take a deep breath and really reread this email, is this email truly an emergency? Is it an emergency just to that one person, because their emergency isn't necessarily mine. But you still need to be kind. And I, I think that was one thing I would have taken away from it was the 00:31:00word that I would have done differently is that I would have panicked, less.

NS: That makes sense. Um, what has living and working during the time of COVID taught you about yourself and others?

BL: Well, it's okay to be a hermit. I'm alright man. You know, I live in my house I have built and I knew what I was doing. When I bought I bought a small house and I slowly started adding on and I added on the things that I wanted to make my life better. And, you know, for the most part, I don't ever have to leave my house to be happy, you know, I have things to do at the shop. I've got, you know, just arts, art stuff, you know, throughout my house that I can do at any time I want to so I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied. I've got dogs and cats. And oddly enough, I even have a girlfriend. So it's kind of nice to to have those things. And so I don't have to leave the house. I'm good with that.


NS: It makes sense. As long as we still have time, I wanted to ask you a few questions about how you personally in your private life fared during COVID. Is that okay? Yeah. Okay, first, we were sent home a week before spring break. What did you do during that week of spring break.

BL: An awful lot of meanwhile, is moving a lot of hardware around to get it ready to go. I was dealing with tons and tons of emails. So just helping faculty that couldn't help themselves. So the creating emergency websites building knowledge based articles, things to help people help themselves if they couldn't get a hold of me. So is doing a lot of that.

NS: Do you remember how long you thought the university would be closed? Once they did close?

BL: I thought we were in it for a while. I had no no doubt we were going to be 00:33:00in this for a while because it was they don't shut down for nothing. You know, this was a big deal. And you know, we I mean, I we have had we lost power at the university. Power. Right? Where we are in the basement right now doing this interview, right? The lights didn't come on that was completely dark when the power went out. And we stay still didn't close the university for hours. With no power. And yeah, I mean, it was it was I knew we're in it for a while I knew we're gonna be on it for a while. So take a deep breath and just, you know, deal with it.

NS: How much time did you spend on campus after we were told to leave?

BL: Not long, I was here for a few days to I was had keys to the university. So when I needed to, which wasn't often maybe, you know, two three times, I'd have to come in for some hardware of some kind. But I can do all of my job from home. 00:34:00So I don't need to be here. And that was nice. So I did most of I did everything from home and I only came in a couple times. But I was gone. After the after March 12. I was out of the office, the end of that week.

NS: Okay, and then in your opinion, was it easier to work from home or here on campus

BL: For Me, Mentally I'm in a much better place when I'm at home than I am when I'm here. You know, there's just there's a certain amount of I don't know, like stress that I don't have to deal with when I'm home that I have to deal with when I'm here. You know those kinds of things and annoyances, petty annoyances of being at work and everybody has to deal with home but you know when you're home, they're easier to deal with.

NS: After you were sent home when were you finally like cleared to come back on campus and work every day here.


BL: Well, I guess it was right when we started going back when people started doing hybrid, so I could come back then. But the university realized, I think that there were a lot of people who could do their job from home and you're better than we were better off if we didn't have a lot of people on campus, you don't want people close, right? So they gave us the option of you could come in or not. And I chose not. So I come in now I come in once a week, usually on Thursdays and, and I work here that day, but then the rest of the time I'm home.

NS: Um so you kind of touched on this earlier, but could you elaborate a little more on where you were living with and or where you were living? And with who? What were your thoughts from your camp about COVID in the beginning?

BL: Why I live about two miles away, and I live at home with my girlfriend and 00:36:00my thoughts about living living with COVID. Is that right?

NS: From it, yeah, from where you personally were.

BL: Like I said, I didn't have I didn't have a problem. My biggest problem personally was that I was I'm eight hours away from my mom, my mom lives in Ohio, my family, you know, that I grew up with, they all live in Ohio. So it's a good eight hour ride for me to get there to see them. And so, and I have family in Ohio, and I have family in Sandusky, and I have family in Cincinnati. So they're two different places. And I normally My habit is to, on Thanksgiving, I would go and I would see my family in Cincinnati. That's my dad's side of the family. But I didn't get to do that for two years. Now I haven't gone back, I will probably go this year. But Christmas time, I didn't go back to Sandusky, I did go this last Christmas back to Sandusky, which was great. But it's 00:37:00difficult when you don't get to see them very much anyway, in those times that I have blocked out to specifically go see them. My habits have changed a little bit. Now I'm more. I'm taking more trips for shorter periods of time. So when I first started this job I'd go to for Christmas and I'd stay a week or two, right and I take it that Christmas all the way up through the new year to be able to take advantage of your days, days you normally have off anyway. but I've stopped doing that now I'm going back for shorter periods of time, but I go more often. And that I think is a little more. It's a little easier for me. And for them. They don't have to deal with me as often or as long.

NS: Okay, moving back to like the beginning of COVID How were you personally feeling emotionally?

BL: I was okay. I mean, it didn't emotionally as far as COVID goes, like I said, I mean, my world is built around me and I don't I don't have to go out I don't 00:38:00need a lot of external. I don't need a lot of external stimuli to keep me functioning and to keep me happy. So I was completely fine. One of my one of the things I ended up doing was I watched way too much TV. You know when cuz you had you all every streaming service in the world was now you know, coming up with stuff and they had tons and tons of stuff outside. I binged everything, I think way too much TV. So that's one of the things I ended up doing during the pandemic was doing that I could have done other things, but I didn't, I was a vegetable. That was awful. I'm embarrassed saying it, But

NS: um, other than watching TV, which you mentioned in the last question, um, was there anything else that you picked up that maybe you didn't expect? Like a hobby or

BL: I didn't like that. I didn't pick up any hobbies. I draw a lot anyway. And so one of the things I did was I drew and I it was that was nice. It was nice 00:39:00being able to get back to, to drawing, which is one of those things I'm always trying to do is always trying to draw and keep active as far as artistically.

NS: And then, do you know someone who's close to you that got really sick with COVID? And then adding on to that? Did it impact your family dynamic in any way?

BL: I did. I have some friends. I don't have any immediate family members that got it. But I do have some friends that got it and it was pretty rough for them and it is still rough for them. You know, when he got over COVID He then had to deal with a lung. I think he's they call him a long term long. I can't remember what they call it. But he's having to deal with a lot symptoms over a long period of time. You have things like memory loss, he has asthma issues. There are things that are now he's having he's suffering for because he had COVID So that's a little painful to watch. I was fortunate that none of my family to my 00:40:00knowledge, got it. And I, like I said, I pretty much I wasn't around people, so I didn't get it, which was, which was nice.

NS: And then lastly, we touched on a lot of topics today, do you have anything else that you'd like to add?

BL: One of the things I know that Grace wanted me to talk about, I forgot to mention it, but like, the the PVC document cameras, so and how those things came to be. So I had created this this PVC document camera in order to show people online, you know, that they can make this thing themselves pretty easily for not a whole lot of money. And, and I had had it sitting there, and during a meeting with it, maybe must have been a month or so later, somebody was complaining about how we weren't able to get document cameras anymore. And I jokingly said, we'll make your own and I put it in I put it in front of just this PVC thing. And, and so my supervisor was like, Where'd you get that? Like, made it for how 00:41:00much? Five bucks? It was can you make more? Like? Sure. He goes, Okay, make more. And so I was like, okay, so I got Rob and Rick volunteered, and Rob and Rick both volunteered to help me and so we spent a weekend and I went out and I grabbed tons of PVC and joints and and we came up with a better way. Because you know, My way was really cobbled together pretty quickly. But using that one as a template, we went back and found better parts that we may be rather than using to have this one type of thing, we could get away with one. And so we were putting these things together. And Rick was great, because Rick, because I have this idea. I like things to be solid, and I like things to be tough and to work well. And you know how PVC fits together pretty snugly anyway, while I was 00:42:00gluing these things together, and it's taken forever. And Rick was like, you know, dude, if we just put them together, they can move and just give them the fact I'm like, Well, no, man, we got to have these things got to be. And in my mind, I'm like, no one, these hands got to be perfect. Like, they got to be perfect. And they just need to be done. Because we needed on the next day, and we needed to make it was 30 some odd I don't think it was 40. But it was 30 some odd of these things that we had to make. And I have a shop so I know the saws and all kinds of things to be able to put this stuff together. But after we after I got over the fact, night realized Rick was fairly wise, which is unusual for him. But but in in what he had said, I went, alright, okay, fine. We don't need to we don't need to glue anything together, we can just snug them together and let faculty move around. And he's right, they could move and they if they needed to adjust them. They could more easily than what my initial plan was. But it required me to be a little more open and a little more flexible than what I 00:43:00was comfortable being at the time. So it's okay good enough, is what is it perfect is the enemy of good enough? Right. perfect is the enemy of good enough. So these were good enough and they're not there. You know now we're slowly starting to be able to get back to buying document cameras so the need for them has gone down.

NS: Makes sense. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.