Life on Planet COVID-19

So, how are you weathering the Great Pandemic of 2020? Keeping your social distances? Working from home? Catching up on things you’ve missed? Dealing with close quarters? Arguing online with Tinfoil Hats who blame Bill Gates? Baking?– these days, toilet paper is easier to come by than yeast.

Let’s hear about your experiences of COVID-19.

In theory, I’m participating in virtual Penguicon next week. I’ll provide more information as the event develops.

And remember– we’ll meet again!

12 replies on “Life on Planet COVID-19”

  1. In addition to working from home and becoming involved with a theoretical virtual Con, I’ve been keeping a Journal of the Plague Year. The most recent post has received more comment than most, so I repeat it here, my look from last week at shopping during these times:

    “Paul, please go to aisle three for customer assistance. There’s a lady by the icing sugar.”1

    Shopping on the world of COVID-19 resembles some bizarre chess game. You move through aisles and around stalls, attempting to remain at a safe distance from the other players. Where necessary, you pass without breathing. Someone blocks the path to the broccoli. Do you wait, or negotiate around the organic produce table2 and hope you can make it before the elderly woman heading for the fish counter gets too close? It has brought out some interesting characters, ordinary folks transformed into Coronavisions of alternate identities.

    Here are a few I encountered while making a morning run for the week’s groceries and some alcoholic beverages:

    Countess Dracula: she moves about without any sort of mask, but she feels she requires one whenever anyone approaches. To this end, she pulls her long black scarf across her face in a manner that recalls Bela Lugosi, and sweeps by.

    The Immunized Lord of the Sith: a number of people wear masks, but this menacing figure, with his black leather jacket and sophisticated respirator device really stands apart from the crowd. I fully expected him to ignite his lightsaber and inform the stock-boy that, no, he was his father.

    The Welder: With full face-shield, the welder walks in assurance that no stray spittle shall ever spread pestilence to their body.

    Weed Granny: the grey-haired woman who saw the marijuana delivery car park in the lot and wondered aloud if they were going to come into the store to pass out free samples. I’m sure that wouldn’t be legal. Free samples are a pandemic era health hazard. Sometimes the Weed Courier is just picking up groceries.3

    The Ski Pro: Although he had no mask upon his face, he had ski goggles over his eyes. I suppose that affords some sort of protection. Perhaps he lost the nose-and-mouth covering during the final slalom.

    Mr. Grim: with the skull-rictus covering over his own mouth, he makes a frightful sight as he stalks the cold breakfast cereals and instant soup mixes. Perhaps he’ll upgrade and go classic next week, with a full Plague Doctor outfit. I find myself wondering now if he just chose the covering for the times, or if he had the mask in store, at ready for just this occasion.

    Lady Content Warning: the clerk at the LCBO door who goes through every single guideline as you enter– “…and we prefer credit or debit, but we will take cash if that’s all you have”– and ends, at long last, with strong encouragement (not that she means to be rude) to shop quickly so as to make way for others. I would be midway through my run if she had just let me pass.

    The Lord of Merriment: upon seeing just how far the spaced-out line-up to the liquor store stretched, along the wall and around the corner and, finally, into the sketchy realm behind the plaza where cars rarely go and weeds grow through cracks in the pavement, he laughed gleefully and then made his way to the very back. Really, does he need to spend any more time at home? Maybe he’ll find a new friend during conversation across a safe distance. Dig that fresh outdoor air. Invigorating, isn’t it?

    Vera Lynn is alive at 103 and participating in a duet to raise money for health care in England. Whether she will actually sing, or they will repurpose an old recording (as was done on the album released for her 100th birthday), is something I do not know. But she survived the 1918 Flu Pandemic, sang comfort during World War II, and sounds perfectly lucid in 2020. Dismiss her signature song as cheese if you like, but it’s no less true for most of us: we will meet again, our pandemic identities largely put to rest, some sunny day.

    1. Public address systems in stores are a tool of surrealists.

    2. What on earth is inorganic produce? Is there a store somewhere selling bicarbonate bananas and ammonia-based milk?

    3. Although combined marijuana and snack delivery seems like a fair business model.

  2. We’ve gotten through some interesting stuff while the regular shows were off the air. We finished The Witcher, then See, and now have decided to join everyone else and watch Black Mirror.

    I’ve had a few back-alley deals for liquor as well with the local distillery‘s contact-less pickup. I find it amazing what ends up disappearing from shelves when panic sets in.

    • Amusing fact: Since it’s the twenties, someone created a Speakeasy-style “secret entrance” to a bar via a barbershop. I fully intended to use it and…. Well, it looks like, for now, I’ll have to stand in the store line-up if I want to purchase alcohol. Thus far, ‘touch wood,’ our problems have been of the First World variety.

  3. I work (veterinary) Medical IT helpdesk – so I’ve been working (somewhat) from home. As far as what I’ve been doing to adjust – I’ve been getting more consistent with my video game streaming, and been watching more movies and TV shows while I’m on break from home.

  4. I’m a high school math and physics teacher, so I’ve been working from home and transitioning everything to digital platforms, while supporting families who share devices. That includes beta testing online assessment through (which is more mature in beta than a lot of final production software; teachers reading this need to check out the site), teaching via Zoom, completely restructuring the year, etc. I’ve, quite frankly, been swamped with that. Many, many long days, since I prerecord lessons for all classes so students can watch the lessons as soon as they wake up in the morning, while also being available on Zoom during the regular class times to handle Q&A. So, instead of taking a few minutes to prep and then ad lib the actual lesson during the class, I have to teach the entire lesson on my own time, and then be there in class time.

    On the upside, all of these prepackaged lessons will still be available next year, so the sub plans are in the bag!

    • When….

      If life gets back to normal, you could always go into class every year afterwards and just throw your video up on the screen. For extra fun, you could heckle yourself from your desk in an MST3k style classroom.

  5. Well, I’m a web developer working as a government contractor, so I’m working full time from home. In fact, since my boss retired a few weeks before the feces hit the whirling blades, I’m pulling a lot of double-duty as team lead as well, so I’m working even more hours now (no OT, sadly).

    Since my weekends are much more quiet, I’m getting more DGN podcasts and audiobooks recorded, but also working with the kiddo on school work (GED prep) and doing the usual “spring cleaning” in the yard as the weather warms up.

    I started Black Sails and it’s good, but took a while to get interesting. The mix of history and fiction has been good. I need to see what else Starz has before our cheap 6 month package expires (my wife is a huge Outlander fan and we’ve gone through all the series based on Phillipa Gregory’s works).

    • I’ve done some reading, and am currently making my way slooowly through a Kim Stanley Robinson I’ve never read before (a rare item), the sloow-moving Antarctica.

      Work permitting, I’ll have a review up tonight or tomorrow on the Watchmen series, another Westworld soon, and we might watch The Plot Against America, which is alt-history.

      • Since I do audiobooks for my reading, I’m down to zilch since I was doing it on my commute and lunch hour (lunch hour is now either working extra or taking a walk with the wife and dog).

        On the plus side, all the extra walking and no access to fast food has helped me drop like 5 pounds (that’s 2.2 kg for you snooty metric users)

        • Which is interesting, because some people talk about the Covid-19 by analogy with the Freshman-15. They’re sitting at home too much and snacking.

          • My daughter tells me she has been struggling with the COVID-40, as she had been off work, with nothing to do but stay home and enjoy her other hobby: Dessert baking and crafting. She brought us cupcakes one day, but I know she’s been making a lot more.

            My only saving grace has been that avoiding going out means going to the store to restock the chips and pretzels. We’ve already eaten all of them.

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