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March 19, 2020

Open thread 223
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:01 PM * 89 comments

So now the rest of the world is discovering virtual communities. I’m feeling very hipster; we were doing it before it was cool.

What are some of your favorite resources? I want to point out Jo Walton’s Decameron project on Patreon (free, but contributions encouraged) and Ada Palmer’s #SomethingBeautiful hashtag on Twitter.

As they say here in the Netherlands, sterkte, strength, in these difficult days. May we flatten the curve by sheer force of love. May wisdom dwell in the roofs of our mouths and slip out of our sleeves onto our keyboards. May we love what’s lost and love what is to come. May we repair what breaks, make it better than before. May we go ever onward.

Comments on Open thread 223:
#1 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 04:55 PM:

Thank you, abi!

I don't have any good resources right now, except to say that if your local library is closed (as They Should Be!), check out their Twitter or Facebook feeds. Most libraries are posting lots of resources to get their patrons through social distancing.

#2 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 06:53 PM:

Echoing the thanks to abi.

Mary Aileen, good thought on checking the library's feed.

Good wishes to all far and near.

#3 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 07:46 PM:

I did put out a book on the Kindle store. title is "Castle of the Wolf". If you're on Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free. Wild escapist furry-dieselpunk adventure, with Anarchist, Nazis, ancient Gods, not-so-ancient Gods, and at least four witches who make gratuitous "Lili Marlene" references.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 08:37 PM:

Thanks, abi! (And thanks for cleaning up the mess in that other aisle!)

#5 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 11:22 AM:

Thanks, Abi!

I'm facing the prospect of not visiting family back in NY until a vaccine is available. Cancelling "vacation" plans to visit friends in Puerto Rico. Not sure if the game convention I was looking forward to will go on.


#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 12:43 PM:

Spending a lot of time at home, like (I hope!) most of the folks here. Reading more than I have for several years. Introducing Karen to various anime: DEATH NOTE, KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS are recent ones.

#7 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 06:49 PM:

I find myself spurred to connect with people as much as I can, much more than I typically do. Not having my two get-out-of-house days-- not counting work, but the two days I edit things and see friensd-- makes the other five feel more claustrophobic, and all the ways I can connect to people across town also work for people across the country. I know I can't get my usual social connection, so I'm overloading all the ones I've let fall a bit.

My husband bought a cheap euphonium on Amazon a few weeks ago and this past weekend bought 101 Disney Songs for Trumpet (he doesn't read bass clef). We are That House.

#9 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 07:18 PM:

Peng Shepherd started a Group Twitter Story.

I'm going to make up a prompt and tag an unsuspecting victim (I mean writer friend) to add to the tale, and they'll then tag another unsuspecting victim (I mean writer friend), until we have a storyshaped creation! Likely a very lopsided & nonsensical but hopefully hilarious one!

I stumbled into it via John Scalzi's Twitter feed.

(Twitter seems to have changed its threading behavior lately, so I can't figure out how to get to the actual story from the top post above. Here's a link to the most recent tweet I can see at the bottom, then scroll back to the top...?

Also, Captain Awkward has started an The Artist's Way (& Accountability Buddies) group over on Patreon. Not exactly sure of the intended duration, but I'm loving it (even though my participation has been spotty, due to ::waves hands around helplessly::).

#10 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 07:20 PM:

In other news, I've been typing furiously all week in a perhaps ergonomically sub-optimal set-up, and my arms and hands hurt.

#11 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:54 AM:

abi: thanks for the new thread.

Jacque@10: be careful! I know that I need my hands to be going down onto the keyboard, not up, or I start getting pain.

As a long-distance (ultramarathon) runner, I am in online communities swapping ideas for house-bound exercise. There's a set of exercises that can be done using no more equipment than the bottom stair: Home step/stair exercises. Happy to share other home-exercise ideas if they would be useful. Thankfully at the moment I'm still able to go out and run, but I know in some places that's now being discouraged/severely limited.

So far I've had two conferences cancelled, a couple of ultramarathons cancelled/postponed and I'm expecting to hear that another of my key races is being cancelled or postponed - and I have flights booked for that one and really hope the airline is going to be sensible.

#12 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 01:09 PM:

@10, Governor Pritzker of Illinois has enacted a Shelter In Place order for all non-essential personnel starting at 5:00 pm today. I've been working from home this last week, but I decided I'd best drive into the office and pick up all the various odds and ends of office supplies and pending files and suchlike that I might need for the next two or three weeks. (With my boss's blessing, naturally.) I turned down all the thermostats, put signs on the doors explaining that the office was closed and all mail and packages should be held pending the lifting of the governor's order, and left.

As I was locking the door, I last-minute decided that I'd almost forgotten one vital office supply -- a good office chair. I've been using a dining room chair and the ergonomics are awful and I risk carpel tunnel from not having arm rests. So I stuffed an office chair from a disused office into my car with the box of files and oddments. Fortunately, I have a Subaru Forester with a nice big cargo handling capacity.

#13 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:02 PM:

Mary Aileen @12: thank you - I forgot to do that!

#14 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:22 PM:

dcb (14): You're welcome!

Cassy B. (13): That chair was a brilliant idea. I'm glad it fit into your vehicle.

#15 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:39 PM:

Goodbye Rosie, the queen of Corona
No more me and Julio, down by the schoolyard

Inge has been suffering from a respiratory infection since shortly before she was discharged from hospital three weeks ago. It was probably acquired from another patient in the room who was (a) under droplet precautions, (b) suffering from dementia, and (c) therefore not paying attention to (a). Visitors to the room included someone who had traveled from Portugal, and one from the U.S. Inge has a congenital immune deficiency.

On Wednesday afternoon, Inge got a call from the agency that provides some in-home care for her. They told her that they would no longer provide care unless she was tested for the virus, and found to be negative. So we went to the testing centre in Ottawa, where she was told that she didn't meet their criteria. But they were concerned about her breathing difficulty, so they sent her to the hospital. After she got an X-ray, the doctor told her that she needed some medication, but that she didn't seem to be likely to have COVID-19... but that he was willing to have her tested if she wanted. I suggested that it would probably ease her concerns, as well as potentially cutting through the red tape of the home-care agency. He gave me a thumbs-up, and it was done.

The test isn't pleasant: a swab deep into the sinus cavities. But it was over with quickly enough, and now we're a few days into the expected 4-day turn-around for processing.

One of our neighbors dropped notes into the mailboxes of all of the home in the neighborhood, offering help if it was needed, and suggesting the creation of some kind of local-community support group. It's a lovely idea, though I feel bad that I can't contribute much to that in a positive way. What Inge most needs, at present, is social contact. We need to find a way for her to get that, even at a distance -- I've been nudging her about doing Skype with her sibs.

#16 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 04:08 PM:

So I've seen a few of what I understand are many speeches or tunes with which one can time handwashing, all (the ones I've seen) segmented under the same set of very simple drawings; examples range from the obvious (Lady Macbeth's "out, damned spot!" speech) through the less-obvious (the Litany against Fear from the original Dune) to the remotely ironic ("Sumer is icumin in"), which I've been using because I learned it a very long time ago and can still hear the rest of the Spring Revels chorus doing it around me (rather later). I decided to see what Wikipedia has to say about it, and surprised by the heat with which people have disputed the meaning of verteþ -- "linguistic Galahads" is one of the milder phrases used. I have no useful opinion on the matter (especially considering whose blog this is), but am amused that an ordinary little ditty should inspire so much debate.

@Cassy B: the Forester is indeed fortunate; I've found room for several things in a Prius but have never tried an assembled office chair. (We have a couple but they were bought flat-packed, probably at the original Staples.)

#17 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 05:30 PM:

CHip (17): I fit an armless office chair into a Hyundai Accent a couple of years ago. Upside down, it fit very neatly on the back seat. A chair with arms wouldn't have done as well, but I probably could have made it work.

#18 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 07:31 PM:

Cassie @12 good for you.

As it happens, my office was working remotely anyway because of a major renovation. So I already had at home files, supplies, and my big desk monitor. I also brought home a couple of office side chairs with arms that weren't going to be part of the new decor, one at a time in the back of a Prius with the back seat laid flat. Worked fine, thanks to the help of Awesome Garage Attendant, who refused a tip when I am sure schlepping furniture into cars is not part of his job description.

My husband will be working remotely beginning Monday. We have been using opposite sides of a repurposed breakfast room table as our desks, but if we're both there full time one of us may need to move. There is an unused desk upstairs in the room of daughter the elder, who has moved out.

I moved my laptop to the basement earlier today for a test Zoom session with some of my chorus (answer: socially great, musically a bust) Also, I rediscovered the fact that our wifi does not reach the basement well.

Privileged first world problems, to be sure. But still a necessary adjustment for us.

#19 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 09:11 PM:

WRT office chairs, I forsee a trip to my office at some point to retrieve my chair, keyboard & mouse. My home ergonomics are currently, um, suboptimal.

Joel Polowin @15: creation of some kind of local-community support group

This may be of some interest to you. It's a Mutual Aid 101: Toolkit (Google Doc) put out by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & folks.

#20 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 09:39 PM:

File:770 reminds me: happy eight-squared to our founder TNH!

#21 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 11:52 PM:

@Chip: One timer I got from Tom Galloway was the opening monologue from ST:TOS or TNG. I posted that to my work Slack, and one of the devs asked if I had it memorized. I replied with an emoji called up by the alias :areyoukiddingme:.

#22 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 12:09 AM:

When I am cloned, start losing my self
Not so long from now
Will you still appreciate the two of me,
Send us flowers, take us to tea
Or when I'm four, or eight or sixteen,
Thirty-two or more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?



#23 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 03:34 AM:

Am in a weird mood today, so I wrote this, which feigns to be an attempt by somebody from the Finder's Lodge to translate a song from outside the Valley. (That is, the Valley of the Na, in Always Coming Home by Le Guin.)

Heya, today is crazy-hot
As if the Sun had come to dance the Summer
People desire you, but you are unmoved
Delicate and beautiful, from outside the Valley
Your coming is a hinge in my life
And I think of you when I dance

If you said "Come with me, I'm homesick"
I would leave the Valley to go with you
I could form my life to your choices
The way the ocean follows the moon
The way water shapes stone
Turn toward me
Or stop talking to me

This I will tell you:
I wish you would not leave
I think of you constantly
Hear my songs
Feel the water going downstream in the Valley
Like water shaping stone

If you said "Come with me, I'm homesick"
I would leave the Valley to go with you
I could form my life to your choices
The way the ocean follows the moon
The way water shapes stone
Turn toward me
Or stop talking to me

#24 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 09:40 AM:

Re: working from home

On Friday the 13th, my office requested everyone work from home who was able to do so. I had already been working from home with my laptop on the dining room table while I recovered from my annual spring cold. I went into the office to get my monitors, docking station, and keyboard (mouse was already at home), but didn’t take my chair, as it won’t fit in my home work space.

My new setup is an L-shaped space created by reassembling my old college desk perpendicular to the dining room table. It’s 2 feet by 3 feet, and just the right height to tuck under the table. It’s now my primary work space with the monitors, keyboard, and mouse, while the laptop remains on the table.

I wish I had a better chair, though. It’s a cheap, small office chair (and so already better than the dining room chairs for long periods), but I’ve already had to fix it once when the seat came unbolted from the base. That’s when I discovered it only had 3 of its 4 bolts. But I can’t get anything much larger, or it won’t fit in my work space. (And it has to be from somewhere doing curbside delivery. I’m not currently going into stores, since I still have a slight cough.)

#25 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 10:47 AM:

Joel, I clicked thru to read the rest of your filk, and I hope you're happy with the huge groan your last line elicited.

#26 ::: Cadbury Moose declares post forgery in aisle #35 ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 02:08 PM:

Alan @ #25: Yes indeed, that was truly terrible. Joel should be ashamed of himself. (More likely to be well pleased though.)

#27 ::: Cadbury Moose groans in sympathy ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 02:10 PM:

Ooops! I do not declare post forgery in aisle #35, sorry. (Forgot to change the header.)

#28 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 04:22 PM:

Joel Polowin @22: ::applause:: Also: you saved us all from my compulsive YouTube link. And much more cleverly, too, I might add.

Happy happies, Teresa!!

In Social Lockdown news, I woke up this morning and realized that, given my propensity to get home at the end of the week and then not step foot out of the house again until Monday morning, I AM TOTALLY DOWN FOR THIS. For the next six weeks, except to get food, I DON'T HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE!!!


(Check back in with me at weekly intervals to see if this remains true ;-)

#29 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 06:41 PM:

Like Jacque, this isn't much of a change on my non-work days.... except for not being able to go out for dinner. I've probably used the stove as much in the last week as the two or three weeks before it. But not getting out to work is going to play hell with my physical condition -- I can walk on the local trail, but that doesn't include hauling things around like at work.

Also, of course, this is just the first week. This is going to get pretty old soon....

I did just order delivery for tonight; Amusingly, DoorDash identifies Burger King as "Mountain Valley Corporation", which I assume is their conglomerate identity.

#30 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 08:28 PM:

Free novella by Zen Cho (author of Sorcerer to the Crown)!

#31 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 09:12 PM:

@22: ceremonially holds nose and flees screaming into the night

#32 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 08:57 AM:

Joel @22: I think my upstairs neighbors heard me whooping. XD

#33 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 10:20 AM:

I've been working from home since last week. On the one hand, given all the uncertainty, I know I am fortunate to still have a job and that I can work from home with all that's going on, especially considering the lack of social safety net even in California. Also, I have a better monitor and keyboard at home than I do at work anyway.

On the other hand, I keep seeing all these posts about things to catch up on now that you're stuck at home, and I feel a bit left out.

On the other other hand, I am going to need to figure out a way to switch up the scenery in my home office, because otherwise I'm going to go stir crazy.

#34 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:04 PM:

Advice (from Peggy Noonan, of all people!):

If you have some cash, and know that you'll be patronizing a local business after this, buy a gift certificate now.

#35 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:15 PM:

My partner and I started a mailing list for our local friends to keep up with everyone and trade tips on coping. One of them is (still) stuck in Morocco. She's eighty-something, loves travelling, and 3 years ago broke some ribs falling off a camel, so of course she's the one stuck Very Far From Home.

I work from home normally, so at least I have a reasonable space already set up. If this is not your normal, give yourself some slack -- it takes time to adjust. Frequent short breaks help, especially if your ergonomics are poor as compared to your real office. Doing work stuff in your pjs is still Expert level, though.

(and a belated happy birthday to Teresa!)

#36 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:33 PM:

Re: me @22, I'm glad that you appreciate it. :-)

The first verse sat in my filk binder for about two years, IIRC, occasionally coming to my attention, before a second verse hit me. And I think it was almost a decade before the third verse came to me. One verse could stand alone, but two demanded a third, and it was a recurring source of annoyance and frustration. I was at a filk con when -- as usual -- I paged past the thing, and inspiration struck, but I had to wait until I got home to confirm that the number was correct.

#37 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 02:51 PM:

HLN: Area retiree hasn't gone totally insane yet.
My plans for celebrating a year in my new home--actually almost a month back--were disrupted, first by an unexpected nostalgia attack upon reading that my "old" river was in spate, and then...this damn mess.
At 64, bike-riding and CPAP-dependent, I am on the fuzzy edge of the vulnerable sector. All my friends and relations are older'n me, as are my neighbors in the place I live. As a bigtime introvert, I was never into the touchy-feely stuff, not even hugs, but I miss the morning coffee-time/chinwag, and just being able to walk into any bookstore or library without concern. The libraries here are shut; how soon will the bookstores follow?
I don't know if a person who hasn't been sick in any way for more than a year is inherently safer or not.
I am so glad I have some friends/family to email and talk on the phone with. And YouTube music, and a huge pile of books yet to go thru, plus certain projects. But it is a scary time--I don't know what's coming, I don't know how long it will last, I don't know if I will be alive when the year is out, or if I will still have all the people I like--and having so many bad people in power is stressing me perhaps the most. I once thought that when I grew up and moved out of the place where people bigger than me violated me in several ways, I'd be safe...I guess I was wrong.
I continue to try to adapt, and to be grateful for helpful things such as this site.

#38 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 04:03 PM:

Hi, all. I check in on the Fluorosphere frequently but never seem to have anything (I consider) interesting to contribute. Still don't, really, but thought I'd stop by and say hi.


So, I still have the job that got me out of the homeless shelter, and as of today I'm working from home 4 days a week--I'll be going in on Thursdays for the one piece of my job that can't be done remotely. I still live in the place I moved into in January 2013, so, still in a small space. No room for a desk, but my landlady loaned me a couple of TV trays and they...function...but it's not the most physically comfortable of setups. Also I'm going to need to remember to get up and move around MUCH more often.

On the other hand, I have a job that I can do remotely (mostly), for which I'm infinitely grateful. Without a car, grocery delivery has been my default for ages--although the order I set up a week ago Saturday that I *assumed* would arrive the next day was actually scheduled for delivery yesterday. Some canned goods got dropped (no surprise), as did the precautionary cough syrup (also not a surprise), but except for milk and fresh/frozen veg I think I'm good for a couple of weeks.

Dried beans and rice were all pretty much "not available at this time".

Overall, I'm cautious for myself and worried sick about my older friends; the one who's getting immunotherapy infusions every 3 weeks for the lung cancer she was diagnosed with 13 months ago, as well as other immunosuppressed friends; and my artist/musician/gig-economy friends, and I can't even imagine how worried they must be.

May all of you and all your loved ones and all the rest of us be as safe as possible and weather this with as little damage as possible.

Back to work I go...

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 04:25 PM:

Hi, Syd!
Yeah, I was in my grocery Saturday - they'd gotten fresh produce, at least, though the frozen pizza and burritos were pretty much cleaned out. (I got the burritos I wanted - they're small and cheap, but they work for me.)

#40 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 05:37 PM:

Hi Syd! Best of luck getting the ergonomics worked out.

We've gotten most of what we needed from the grocery store; a few things I wanted were out but we'll adjust. I started a few months ago getting weekly deliveries from Hungry Harvest, a group that delivers produce that would otherwise be discarded - odd sizes, ugly, overstock, etc. For the duration they are offering some add-ons like bread, cheese sticks, and eggs, so I can get some of that without having to go out to the store.

#41 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:07 PM:

Welcome back, Syd!

* * *

I was just nattering on Twitter about the disappearance of flour. Guess: A combination of panic, and bored people who want to try making their own bread.

If I were REALLY crazy I could buy the 25 lb. sack of unbleached flour in the bulk food section of my local discount grocery . . . but I have enough for many loaves -- white and whole wheat -- of no-knead bread.

#42 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:10 PM:

Oh, it looks like president dumbf**k was impressed enough by the rantings of Fox News business cranks that he wants to dial back social distancing to save the economy.

The "everyone should catch the flu and get over it" theory, which I guess means "you won't miss grandma when you see how well your 401(k) is doing!"

#43 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:36 PM:

Anyone else like to borrow that remote control from Click and fast forward the country through the next three months?

#44 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:48 PM:

Steve C, I'm thinking almost 10 months, to January 20, 2021.

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 07:35 PM:

stefan jones @42: and think of how well the funeral and mortuary sectors will do! It's a booming economy.

#46 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 08:19 PM:

Were you expecting consistent policy from the man who spent over a month calling it fake news before claiming that we have always been at war with the coronavirus?

#47 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:23 AM:

Not exactly a new resource, but I've been reaching out to friends via email, text, phone, and video calls much more in the past week. Part of that is a desire for connection while being physically bounded (on top of having moved a fair distance not very long ago); and, part of it, conversely, is that the spread of the virus has made me think all the more of friends and family who are far away and also affected.

Also, video calls have now apparently reached a stage where I can use them without paying more attention to the software than the conversation (although the entire world getting on the same servers all at once has put a bit of a strain on the systems).

#48 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:10 AM:

I am getting distinctly antsy from the lack of both physical activity and contact with people (I don't need much, but I need some!). I have been giving and receiving phone calls with family and friends.

My family has apparently banded together to make sure I don't need to go shopping ever, which is gratifying but also annoying somehow. (I'm not 60 yet, but I am a long-time smoker, so high-risk.)

Meanwhile, I'm more worried about my septuagenarian boss & his wife, and the volunteers at the bookshop. My parents are of similar age but healthier than Boss, and they're solidly set up at home, with external support from my sister's family. (Mom's not actually a survivalist, but she's totally the one you'd want stocking your shelter. ;-) )

On the phone, Boss was talking about reopening the shop next week (via me, my fellow 50s-year-old and the youngsters), though I would be working upstairs out of the way. I pointed out as kindly as I could that this thing wouldn't even be close to over by then.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 05:56 PM:

Syd: great to hear from you.

Joel Polowin @22, Jenny Islander @23: thank you for sharing those.

Starting to get twitchy at the idea that I might have my running curtailed. Trying to get into the habit of a 15-20 minute morning yoga session, but it's really not the same as a good long run. Not helped by the fact that due to various circumstances beyond my control I've effectively been in approach-to-deadline/deadline day for the past five weeks. But I'm lucky: I have a good home office set-up, my husband also has a study where he can work from home, we both have jobs where working from home is possible.

Keep safe, everyone.

#50 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:22 PM:

My local yarn store closed its physical location over a week ago, but they have someone present to take phone calls and arrange purchases-- shipped, delivered locally, and porch pickup at their store. It's been a really good way to kind of keep in touch. I called and ordered a couple yards of, "You know the really pink fabric line with the phones and pop bottles and balloon animals? Do you still have the balloon animal one? Okay, pop bottles then," as well as, "The really little bundles of Linzee's latest fabric."

The bookstore could probably do something like that. Porch pickup is a great thing.

#51 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:34 PM:

Diatryma @ 50:

The yarn stores in my area that had still been open in some form all had to close at the end of the day on Monday this week. One of them is normally closed on Monday, but opened for a few hours so people could get last minute knitting and sewing supplies. I think the email said they’d do pick ups this Thursday (although I’m not quite sure how that will work with non-essential businesses closed).

Meanwhile, the yarn store closest to me is planning on launching a new website and online store at the beginning of April. Last night I beta tested it on my laptop. Tonight I’m going to repeat the process on my tablet. I’m also trying to figure out if I want her to ship my yarn, or hold it until we’re allowed out again and I can pick it up. (She’ll also refund anyone who doesn’t actually want to order, but her yarn is gorgeous and this is a good excuse to buy more.)

#52 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:53 PM:

Syd, good to hear from you!

Diatryma #50: Alas, my used-book store has no online presence, nor even an inventory of our contents.

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:03 PM:

My LYS closed at the end of January - they retired. But they have a Ravelry group.

#54 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 05:45 AM:

CoNZealand is going virtual.

Very SFnal!

#55 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 12:17 PM:

Dreamhaven books is online, and has an interesting special: Grab bag for $10 ($2.50+7.50 shipping) we will send you approximately two and a half pounds of specially-selected lightly-used paperbacks in one of a selection of genres. That is between 5 and 10 books. There will be no duplicates, although this is not guaranteed if you buy more than one package.
(I hope this isn't too much like advertising. Greg has been very involved in the local fannish community for a long time.)

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 04:10 PM:

Hi, Syd!! ::wavewave::

Doug @54: Wow! Hey, this means I can potentially go, after all! Whee!!

#57 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 05:23 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 22: is that a known covert language, and if so what is it called? Castilian Double Dutch, maybe? And I join the groans at your filk...

Dave Harmon @ 29: Wikipedia says that Burger Thing is now a part of Restaurant Brands International, and that 99.7% of the outlets are privately franchised -- but they don't say how many franchises are owned by to-purpose corporations instead of individually; maybe that's what "Mountain Valley" is. And now I'm reminded of a juvenile jape titled Three Men on Third, not the anecdote collection Google returns but a novel about a California high-school baseball team in the "Tri-Valley Coast Mountain League". (When I was in school I'd read almost anything non-compulsorily put in front of me as the library was six miles away; this was a present from possibly my only friend in junior high.)

Tom Whitmore @ 45: if the Cheetoh had his way, the only mortuaries doing well would be the ones with backhoes; there are times I think he can't count beyond one, and I'm not sure he can even do that with his clothes on.

Congratulations to Syd on getting and maintaining a job that allows working from home.

Beggars in Spam moment: it took multiple comments for me to realize the crafters among you were talking about y-a-r-n stores, not y-a-m stores. (No, I had no idea how a yam store would sell enough to survive.) Sometimes no serifs can be as bad as overdone ones.

Locally, I was one of the last people in the just-down-the-street YMCA before it closed 10 days ago; they already had do-not-cross tape outside the door when I left, although they were going to try to provide childcare for working parents. (This has now been disallowed except for children of critical workers.) OTOH, I'm in a sufficiently spread-out area (lot size something over 1000sf for a two-family) that people aren't so densely packed as in the pictures today's paper ran of people in Boston's "Emerald Necklace"; brisk walks, with hills, remain possible for exercise. All my sympathies to the people in tighter situations; I don't know what I would have done if this had happened 38 years ago, when my PCP told me I should lose some of the too much weight I'd put on too abruptly but I was living much closer to the center of town.

#58 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:06 PM:

Hello everyone. Greetings from the Boston area where the state has me working from home.

So far I am managing.

The thing I miss most is live music. One of my favorite singers had a gig cancelled and did a video concert from home. One of the open mikes I go to is having a virtual meeting.

The thing that frustrates me is the extinguishing of public space. How can we have community if people do not have places to go together? How will the public space make a comeback when it does?

Will things be less public and more walled-garden-by-invitation when they revive?

#59 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:10 PM:

Hello everyone. Greetings from the Boston area where the state has me working from home.

So far I am managing.

The thing I miss most is live music. One of my favorite singers had a gig cancelled and did a video concert from home. One of the open mikes I go to is having a virtual meeting.

The thing that frustrates me is the extinguishing of public space. How can we have community if people do not have places to go together? How will the public space make a comeback when it does?

Will things be less public and more walled-garden-by-invitation when they revive?

#60 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:26 PM:

Magenta, thank you for that mystery package link!

#61 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:21 PM:

CHip @57 - It's Owl's extremely wise spelling from Winnie The Pooh.

#62 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:35 PM:

Erik Nelson @58/9: There's a virtual SF convention going on on FaceBook (Concellation) -- I'm not on FB, but my partner Karen is and she's been just blown away at how well they're recreating a lot of the experiences of various conventions. She's currently at a virtual meeting of a local readings series for SF, normally held at the Racer Cafe -- it seems to be going very well. I think this may actually make public spaces more vibrant when they return: in part because more people can get to any given online venue than will ever get there in person.

#63 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 02:45 AM:

Here in New Zealand we've had the first day of (at least) four weeks' national shutdown. It seems to have been well organised and to be going ok, though there are various stores taking an ambitious view on what counts as 'essential services'.

#64 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 04:50 AM:


If you are thinking of the chain I think you are thinking of, they have stocked up large on Easter-themed product, that will be very hard to shift once the shutdown comes off after Easter. So they want to stay open to shift it while it is still current (cynical? moi?).

J Homes

#65 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 08:17 AM:

The above is where I tweeted a review I found of John M. Ford's first novel (in Science Fiction Chronicle, 1981)

#66 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Liquor stores are apparently essential services in some Texas cities.

Actually, I can kinda understand that.

#67 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 01:15 PM:

Steve C. @66: Liquor stores are also considered "essential" here in Ontario. Inge points out that without access to alcohol, a lot of people would be going into withdrawal. And of course it will help some people to cope with a stressful situation. This leads me to wonder about how the incidence of active alcoholism -- that is, not counting alcoholics who are "dry" -- will change over the next few months. In Ontario, licensed cannabis stores have also been deemed to be essential services.

Tobacco is still available from at least some grocery stores. I think that all of the drug stores in my region have stopped selling it, though they carry nicotine-based products.

#68 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 02:27 PM:

Liquor stores are listed as essential here in Maryland also. It was pointed out in an online discussion that in some rural or high-poverty urban areas, the liquor store does double duty as a grocery.

#69 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 03:56 PM:

Booze is essential here, too: in areas where supermarkets are dry, liquor stores are allowed to operate. And a wine chain emailed me yesterday to say they have been allowed to start online ordering.

I think it makes sense: with alcohol legally available you have some extra workers and shoppers exposed (in, hopefully, a controlled way), but with it not legally available you reduce the chance that the lockdown will be respected.

NZ has been trying to get community buy-in on government actions, which I think has been important.

#70 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 06:10 PM:

... and I -did- have a job that I could do from home. As of 1st April my job will be on hold. I will still get c.80% of salary for the momentt, under the government scheme, and I'm planning to use the time to do some writing I've been wanting to do (non-fiction, running-related) but it's come as a bit of a shock.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 08:34 PM:

Colorado issued a blanket liquor license to restaurants offering take-out, in the hopes that the extra income will help keep them afloat.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering about the status of my favorite hardware store, because I'm needing a new carbon insert for the HEPA filter I have running so I don't have to share (as much of) my downstairs vaping, smoking, pot, dabbing, smudging, incense, and whatever other toxic crap they're emitting.

WRT liquor stores—it might also be pointed out that Everclear was available even after the grocery/pharmacies had been stripped bare of household disinfectants....

Meanwhile, Captain Awkward is participating in a Story Telling thing that's happening tonight on Zoom, and I also have to figure Zoom out for my county assembly on Saturday, but I have really just f'ing had enough of unfamiliar computer software today, and I keep slapping up against "allow access to your microphone."

Toddler-me: "I don' wanna! WAAAAaaaahhhh!!"

#72 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 09:37 AM:

Jacque @71 If it helps, Zoom needs access to your microphone so you can participate in meetings, but when you connect with it you can immediately mute your microphone and only turn it on when you want to be heard. (As any number of new-to-this people have discovered when every throat-clearing, ringing phone, or barking dog has them "speaking" in a meeting until they learn to mute themselves routinely.)

Not to discount the toddler-me feeling, which is easily triggered by One More New Thing when there's already way, way too much. Mine says "This is too hard! I give up!"

#73 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 09:48 AM:

I'm extremely blessed to be a civilian at a gov't medical lab, now working full time from home (I'm not a scientist, I just push electrons as admin support). It's nice to work without pants, and the worst problem I'm facing right now is the complete lack of an ergonomically correct setup or room to have one - though I do badly miss my monitors from work. I'm perfectly happy to stay home by myself.

But I have elderly parents who are staying mostly home for now, but keep talking about maybe going to the store; and a friend with two kids who's about to go through five months of chemo in the midst of all this.

I feel like I'm watching that bit in - I think it's Return of the Jedi - where a Star Destroyer crashes, point first, into the Death Star. Slow-motion disaster and no way to do anything about it.

#74 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:19 PM:

Jacque @71 - FWIW, my local Home Depot is staying open (albeit with reduced hours) so people can do emergency home-repair stuff. I doubt if they'll be refusing to stock items that can't plausibly fall under that category, though obviously the supply chain may fail for such. Small businesses... well, local emergency regs will vary.

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Ursula Vernon and Kevin Sonney of this parish had a lovely podcast last week: Productivity Alchemy Episode 139 – So now you work from home. They also cover pandemic anxiety.

OtterB: I've also recently worked out that when Toddler-Me comes out, it means I'm overtired and need to eat/rest/bathe. That Todder-Me is out much of every day says some fairly depressing things about my self-care.

Quill: Yeah, I've got a couple of folks I'm worried about. One is a Bay-Area fan who is house-bound, late-60s, and disabled, and doesn't appear to have any local support, even to the extent of making grocery runs when the deliveries are fully booked. I don't know them at all well, so I've hesitated to call out the County Mounties in my circle (which overlaps heavily with their circle, or so I would have thought), so that's a thing.

Then there's another fan friend on (I think) the east coast who recently lost a parent they'd been caring for ("and then things got worse" O.O), and also expresses a lack of nearby support. I'm debating offering them space here with me if the need arises. Which would be suboptimal for numerous reasons (not least because they're asthmatic and my house is Allergen Central, not to mention now's maybe not the time to try a cross-country road trip), but at least it'd be a roof?

Nothing as scary as your friend, though (so far as I know), ghods be thanked. I wish (for all the good it does) your friend well.

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:41 PM:

Oh yeah, and OtterB, thanks for the reassurances wrt Zoom. Obvious, once I'd had some food and a night's sleep, but: toddler. : )

Joel: Yeah, their website suggests one can do online/phone orders with curbside pickups, of which I will probably avail myself. And I worry about them. Having them out of commission would feel a lot like losing an arm, frankly. I Really Hope local officialdom correctly classifies them as Essential Services. At the same time, I'm personally invested in them Staying Safe.

#77 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 01:17 PM:

One other toddler-tip for Zoom, Jacque (which a lot of non-toddlers seem to have missed): in the upper right quadrant of the screen there's a little icon that looks like nine dots in a square. If you click on that, you can change the screen-view so that you can see all the participants at once, rather than just the one who's talking. This is very useful.

#78 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 02:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore@77: Yes, the "Brady Bunch" view (actually called "gallery", I think). I like it much more than the speaker-focused view when the call isn't specifically a presentation.

One other useful setting available to people hosting Zoom calls (that I wish more of them used) specifies that everyone joining the call starts out muted. (The down side is making sure everyone has clear instructions for unmuting.)

#79 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 07:12 PM:

#77, #78

One weird trick for Zoom: if you're muted and hold down the spacebar, it temporarily unmutes you.

Also, I have discovered, which is a collaborative whiteboard application, so I'll be able to do math with my research students. Or, which is paid but not all that expensive.

#80 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 08:54 PM:

Excellent Zoom tips, all, thank you!

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 01:13 AM:

Zoom has a setting in Preferences that says, "Automatically mute me when I join a meeting". I highly recommend it.

Also the virtual background feature works quite well. I've sideloaded a bunch of European vacation photographs to my work laptop. You can also find images online of things like the bridge of the Enterprise-D, or the 12th Doctor's TARDIS interior.

#82 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 06:57 AM:

Thanks for the ZOOM tips, my cousin just brought it up to set up a family chat, and my response was much like Jacques'.

#83 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 09:02 AM:

Also re Zoom, one group I belong to had a 30-minute "newbie" time with a couple of experienced people online ahead of the actual meeting. This was really helpful for letting people work through muting/unmuting, gallery view, background, etc., at a comfortable pace.

I also like the virtual background since I have no good place to put the computer where the background isn't cluttered. (I feel for the person on Ask A Manager who said that she hosted an entire work meeting with a lacy nightgown hung up to dry in view behind her.) I have a nice Hawaii photo on mine at the moment. One of my work colleagues signed into a meeting with a background of a 1960-70s era computer room with big tape drives, etc.

#84 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:44 AM:

The way my computer is set up, the webcam picks up a wall of bookcases behind me. Quite appropriate for library Zoom meetings!

Tom's tip about putting all the participants on the screen at once, instead of just the one who's talking, is very helpful. Thank you.

#85 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:50 AM:

Coincidentally, Elliott Mason just shared these Zoom tips over on Facebook. They repeat some of what's here, but in more detail.

#86 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 01:40 PM:

Day 8 of effective isolation, so I can hope I dodged the bullet on the last rather crazy shopping trip before the full lockdown in the UK. Partly thing were changing so fast that a lot of people were unsure. Since then the local buses have vanished, but the village does still have a shop. Many villages in England have nothing.

I'm doing OK. The advice from the NHS says 14 days from known exposure to be sure of no infection. We should be starting to see some benefit from the lockdown after that long.

I am glad I started building stocks of food when I did. But I am a country boy. Here I am on the internet, and I sometimes feel very old-fashioned. But a little story...

Early one morning, Lincolnshire, the middle of a war, schoolboys helping harvest potatoes, RAF bombers returning to base, some of them very obviously damaged. Very obviously...

"They're going to crash..."

"What if..." I'm told the bomber was very low, next-field low.

"We run over and get them out." says one of the schoolboys.

It didn't crash.

That was a story my father told me. He was there. We're all watching something like that bomber.

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:16 PM:

Coworker just emailed out a batch of #StayHome memes. The very first one had a before: slender person reaching into the fridge. After: fat person, reaching into the fridge.

I replied with "Let's please not with the body shaming. It's never appropriate, and especially not right now. Thanks."

And, boy oh boy did they get defensive. Functional equivalent of "I didn't create these! It's just a joke!" (This is someone who's struggling with their weight. This is also someone who is generally kind and considerate.)

So that was a thing. How's your day going?

#88 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:31 PM:

My crafting group, which typically meets at the local yarn and fabric store, has had its second drop-in get-together over Zoom. The store owner was there as well, keeping it on in the background while she did shop business, much like she does with the group on a normal day. But she also took pictures of the shop so we could use them as our Zoom backgrounds if we wanted.

#89 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:56 PM:

I just discovered that the Internet Archive has the Classics Illustrated collection available for download. This Boomer is delighted.

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