Embracing Work-Life Balance at the Dining Room Table

Embracing Work-Life Balance at the Dining Room Table


Mr. Panichgul and Mr. Spina are big on designating space for specific tasks at different parts of the day. They like to work in separate rooms to give each other privacy for calls as well as ample space for creative projects. During the workday, Mr. Panichgul uses the dining room table for fashion design, but come evening, he makes sure it’s “neat and tidy” for evening activities like dinner and a movie. That includes visual changes. Mr. Spina likes to dim the lights, put on music and light candles to create an evening mood that feels calm and relaxing. They break out a happy-hour drink, usually a glass of wine. It all feels like they met at a bar after work to discuss the day.

  • Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Mr. Spina had been taking French classes at Coucou in SoHo for a year and a half, and while quarantined, he has transitioned to taking classes online. Mr. Panichgul gives him space to continue these classes in the evenings via Zoom, but also supports his lessons by screening French films with him. It’s a new experience watching one particular genre of cinema, Mr. Panichgul said, but he loves the look of French new-wave films, so it felt natural. That extends to new hobbies, too. They have been experimenting with natural wines from various regions of the world, including the sparkling wine pétillant naturel (commonly referred to as pét-nat) and unfiltered white wines..

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Both Mr. Panichgul and Mr. Spina admit that their energy levels and moods have been down at times during quarantine. Luckily, they have found that they can be the ultimate motivators for one another. It’s something they took for granted before, when they were busy traveling, working, and rushing around in life. It’s been a blessing, Mr. Spina said, to realize they have the type of relationship where they can lift each other up. It’s as simple, he said, as saying “let’s do this” when one person can’t get started on the day or offering advice for frustrating situations. “You think it’s not going to help but it does,” Mr. Spina added.

Supporting the small business and creative outlets in their community like Amish Market, Chambers Street Wines to Coucou French Classes has helped improve their moods and keep each other’s mental health in check. They both feel a strong sense of loyalty to New York and want greatly to help the city thrive when it’s down. Taking on that calling means staying active: chatting with their doormen, taking a walk with masks, and continuing to shop from their neighborhood go-to retailers. They even look back fondly on the time that a fellow pedestrian snapped at Mr. Panichgul for taking off his mask for a second while walking their dog — a reminder that someone in New York is always watching. “It’s kind of a circus community experience, but it makes us feel like New Yorkers,” Mr. Spina said. “I’d feel guilty to leave.”

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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.