State of the Scalzi, Three Weeks In

I’ve been quarantining for three weeks now. How am I doing? Let’s break it down, in no particular order:

1. Weight: Quarantining offers many opportunities to confront the question “Am I Hungry or Just Bored,” and I know that left to my own devices I will graze incessantly, so I’ve been using a calorie counter to track the amount of food I’m shoving into my own face and how many calories it has. I strongly believe that if people just want to eat during quarantine, why the hell not, and have already developed a term for “the weight we all gain because it’s quarantine and, well, fuck it”: The Quaran-fifteen. That said, I also know that me gaining too much weight will make me unhappy, and possibly unhealthy. My goal here is simply to stay within the 165 – 170 pound range, and tracking food and calories helps with that. Today: 167.5 pounds, so, yes, smack dab in the middle, well-done there, Scalzi.

2. Exercise: I’ve been exercising about every other day, walks when it’s nice outside and drumming when it’s not. The walks are easy to do because I live in rural America, where I can walk for miles and not see another person (yay, low-density living), and drumming is fun, so it doesn’t really feel like exercise. I think I might need to exercise more because I do notice I’m crankier on days when I don’t exercise. I don’t know if that’s because on the days I don’t exercise the lack of exercise makes me crankier, or if it’s because on the days I don’t exercise I fill that time with reading news and social media, which makes me crankier. Maybe both!

3. Sleep: I find myself sleeping more the further I go along in the quarantine. According to my Fitbit, the first week I was in quarantine I slept an average of 7 hours, 6 minutes a night; the second week, 7 hours, 49 minutes; and last week, 8 hours, 3 minutes. Pre-quarantine I was sleeping on average between six and a half and seven and a half hours a night. I’m sleeping more both because I can — no travel is really helping with this, I have to say — and because I suspect I’m using sleep therapeutically at this point. Yesterday I was in a particularly not great mood and went “fuck it, I’m going to sleep,” got in bed early, slept nine hours and woke up feeling pretty decent. I recommend more sleep to everyone.

4. Work: I thought last week I would do a little creative work and did none at all, which was a cause of some of my crankiness, mitigated by the realization that right now I really do need to do marketing and publicity for The Last Emperox, and I was doing rather a bit of that in terms of interviews, feature pieces and what have you. I’m keeping busy at the very least, which is useful. Part of the problem with the creative side is my brain is jumping around. I have a novel that I have to write (I will literally always have a novel I need to write, contractually speaking, for the better part of a decade yet), but my brain is also, like, now is the time to write that concept album! And that short story! And that screenplay! And and and… Some of that I suspect is just quarantine restlessness, but the short term result is lack of focus.

5. General mood: Mostly good; it gets worse when I read the news, but then, why wouldn’t it. In the main we are doing pretty well here — we’re all healthy and we’re mostly in good spirits and entertained — and it helps that we live in a big enough house that the three of us here can get out of each other’s way when we need to. But I have my less-than-great days, yesterday being one, in which I felt like doing something but nothing in particular was interesting to me, so I just sat about being in a bad mood and trying not to transmit it to anyone else in the house before I went to bed. I don’t worry too much about the cranky days being a symptom of quarantine depression — I have cranky days regardless of outside events — but I am paying attention to whether there are more cranky days now, and if so, how they affect the way I’m treating others.

With that said, come on: Weird fucking times we’re living in and the anxiousness of it is getting to me like I think it’s getting to everyone. It’s exacerbated by the fact that our ignorant, dimwitted president and his incompetent administration has literally made everything worse; I have so much generalized anger and frustration at him and his people that I don’t know what to do with it, save the occasional caustic Twitter post (and slightly longer if no less caustic posts here). I’m also aware that for various reasons I have the luxury of mostly ignoring the outside world if I want to, so while I wouldn’t call my anger and anxiety voluntary, exactly, it’s true enough that I can do things to moderate it that other people can’t. It’s still pretty bad. I envy people who aren’t anxious and angry at the moment; they’re probably delusional, which isn’t any better at all, but at least they’re happier.

6. Financial anxiety: Not much for me or the Scalzi family, thankfully. I’ve noted that we took a pretty severe haircut on stocks, as did anyone else who is in the stock market these days, but we’re also about two decades out from doing anything with those investments, so, eh, it’s not fun but it’s not something for us to freak out about yet, either. Otherwise financially we’re going to be fine through the rest of 2020 at least. We’re fortunate and we know it.

As a matter of prudence I’ve already substantially downgraded what I expect to take in for the next couple of years at least. Reasons for this include contraction in the publishing market, both with domestic and international publishers and booksellers, people having less disposable income and more general economic anxiety, and the options market (for film/TV) probably drying out considerably in the short term. I could be wrong about this — people in the short term seem to be buying books, which is nice for someone who has a book out in nine days — but it makes sense to plan like I won’t be wrong. Again, I’ll probably be fine; I (and we) have margin to work with. A lot of people don’t, including people we care about.

7. Non-family relationships: So far, so good? While I have good relations with my neighbors, most of my strong personal relationships are with people who live some distance from me and with whom I mostly communicate day-to-day through online/phone-based means. So… business as usual on that end. I am more than a little disappointed that my physical book tour was cancelled because I had friends at pretty much every stop and was looking forward to spending some in-person time with them. That’s not going to happen now. I’ll find other excuses to get with them some other time. In the meantime, I’m checking in on them and they’re checking in on me and we’re doing what we do. It seems all right.

8. And everything else: I’m drinking more Coke Zero than I used to, and I used to drink rather a lot, so maybe I need to think about my choices there. The cats seem to be fine and largely unconcerned about anything, which makes sense because they’re cats and they don’t worry about things as long as the food and sunbeams keep coming. I was reading more, and I’ve stopped and now want to get back on it again; I reread a novel this weekend, which is a start. I’m excited about The Last Emperox coming out and am curious how it does in the short term and in the face of an economic and social shutdown. I very much like that I have more time with Krissy and Athena right now; it’s the silver lining in all of this. I’m trying very hard not to fall down stairs or have any other sort of medical emergency, as this is absolutely the worst time for that. My hair is beginning to get unruly and I’ve already told Krissy that when it goes full Doc Brown I’m just gonna take some clippers to it rather than wait for an appointment with my usual hairdresser. We’re buying a lot of local business gift certificates that we have no intention of redeeming anytime soon.

Things could be worse. I wish they were better.

This is where I am at the end of week three.

50 Comments on “State of the Scalzi, Three Weeks In”

  1. When you walk, you can walk for miles without seeing another person.
    When you drum, you can see for miles and miles and miles…
    (Always been a fan of Moon’s work on that song.)

    Kidding aside, one unexpected benefit of getting so much of my usual supplies from Amazon instead of locally is that I’ll have enough No-Rush credits to cover most or all of The Last Emperox.

  2. “I have so much generalized anger and frustration at him and his people that I don’t know what to do with it, save the occasional caustic Twitter post (and slightly longer if no less caustic posts here).”

    Irrational Belief No. 9: The idea that people and things must be better than they are and that it is awful and horrible if you cannot change life’s grim facts to suit you.

    Why is this irrational? Because there is no reason why people must be any better than they are, even when they act quite badly.

    Pass it on.

  3. Glad to hear you’re hanging in there! I have been walking nearly every day, but unlike you, I am seeing lots of people in our suburban neighborhood. Not so many that I can’t keep a 6-foot distance from them, though. ;-)

  4. Living alone is hard. I miss the incidental interaction with people at the supermarket and other places. My kid is a few hundred miles away and I miss having them here even though my place is small enough that we’d drive each other nuts after a week.

  5. I’d lean toward encouraging people not to overeat in quarantine.
    But then I’m what they call a controlled diabetic (meaning, you can’t tell there’s an issue, even with a blood test, as long as I take my pills).

    So the way I see it: this is probably a good time to try to get healthy and find some other way to handle stress, like non-stop video games, yelling at the TV, or configuring your laptop correctly. Or start 3 languages on Duolingo simultaneously, perhaps (say, two fictional ones and one you might use). Or read all the Kickstarter proposals that seem interesting.

    Anyway, it seems to me that this is one of the rare cases when you should emulate Mr. Scalzi’s behavior rather than follow his advice.

    My own overindulgence at this point is the consumption of news.

    P.S. My jar of pickles says that one serving has 0 calories. These are big pickles, too.

  6. Have you or Tor brought up the idea of setting up a remote interview space in your house? ~Good~ microphone and audio digitizer, ~good~ webcamera, etc.? (And would your internet connection support lower compression/higher quality audio & video?)

  7. The part about not falling down stairs or having some other medical emergency hits home. I was working on de-jungleizing the long-neglectrd back yard yesterday, in bare feet like a dummy, and found a large board hidden under the overgrown grass. The board wasn’t the problem; the small nail sticking up out of the board was.

    Initially thought I’d pulled back in time to avoid a puncture, as if stepping on a Lego, but later realized I had indeed broken the skin slightly.

    Pretty sure my last tetanus shot was recent enough to be safe from that particular danger, but it gave me pause to consider how difficult and risky it might currently be to seek what would normally be routine medical care.

    In the meantime, it’s alcohol swab, antibiotic, and Band-Aid for self-care.

    (And SHOES, duh.)

  8. John, the aim is to not make ourselves worse off emotionally than we need to be over things we cannot control, no matter how unpleasant the situation.

    I admit that attacking irrational beliefs is easier said than done. But failure to do so inevitably causes us to burn emotional and intellectual energy that could be better applied to things that we actually can control: Like mapping out that next novel or adapting the next book promotional effort to the exigencies of the day,

    More to the point: If now isn’t the time “to write that concept album! And that short story! And that screenplay!,” when will it ever be?

  9. Pedro:

    “John, the aim is to not make ourselves worse off emotionally than we need to be over things we cannot control, no matter how unpleasant the situation.”

    I feel okay being angry that corrupt and incompetent president and administration is going to get more Americans killed than is absolutely necessary (not in the least because it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility that I or someone I care about might be one of them). I think there may be a point at which feeling that becomes an indulgence, but that’s a slightly different thing.

  10. [Deleted because honestly I don’t wanna have this fucking pointless discussion anymore. Congrats, Pedro; I took your advice — JS]

  11. I work in a federal critical infrastructure industry so for the most part I have been barely impacted. Bare shelves at the grocery store was trippy and for the most part short lived. TP & disinfectant being the main exceptions. Yet I am still in a bit of a funk.
    My opinion is that the economy will be fine once the unknown is known. Uncertainty is bad for the economy. In the long run we’ll get back to being consumers and sadly I don’t see this doing much about health care or equality in any meaningful way. I can’t decide if this is an optimistic or a pessimistic view. I do want to say to any younger people out there that this is what living history feels like. You will eventually run into someone who wasn’t alive or was too young to remember this and it will be weird.

  12. The Canadian federals are better than Washington, but that is not saying much. I’m angry. Screening was not done at the airports because it might stigmatize people from Italy and China.

    In today’s newspaper a minister in parliament snapped at a reporter who asked if we can trust the figures out of China, by accusing the reporter of contributing to Internet conspiracy theories. This despite the fresh C.I.A. report being public knowledge.

    I never thought I’d say this, but: “Political Correctness kills.”

    Other anger? The W.H.O. hung up on a reporter asking about Taiwan. The video of this has gone viral. Had we been allowed to know about Taiwan’s success, (I think even better than South Korea’s) we might have been able to role model.

    The good news is that anger can provide energy to do better next time.

  13. Being the parent of a hyperactive preschooler, I seem to be giving the “this would be a really bad time to put yourself in a hospital” speech at least once a day.

  14. Doing more reading and I won’t give up buying books when they are well written, like something starts with “The Last”. Too bad I can’t get it from your local bookstore, but I’m on the hunt! Until then it is always Terry Pratchett to make sense of the world

  15. Yeah, a coworker has tested positive and a friend working at an assisted home found out literally dozens just tested positive and he is in quarantine waiting forvresults.

    If republicans can lose their collective minds for seversl years because 4 americans might have possibly died needlessly in Benghazi, i can only imagine the Hell Hath No Fury Nuke It From Orbit Rage they will unleash on Trump for the additional thousands of Americans who will die by his bungling for 2 months of his cv19 response.

    What’s that? Republicans are dont give a fuck about American lives if they died under a republican?

    Well, that does explain the last 3 decades of their bullshit…

    Sigh…

  16. I slipped on the stairs the last week of February and dislocated a toe, amongst other injuries. I think if I did that today I might be trying to pop it back in myself, before going to the ER. So yes, please try not to fall down the stairs, everyone!

  17. As someone who used to be fairly overweight and had to work hard to get my weight down to a healthy level, one of the most important things I did to improve my relationship with food was to change my snacking behavior. If you can’t avoid the activities that make you snacky, the best thing you can do is figure out how to adjust what you snack on to reduce the damage. A big part of this is evaluating what snackfoods you actually like that are healthier alternatives to the ones you normally rely on.

    For myself I found baby carrots to be a particularly good option as they’re low effort (a must in any snackfood) and reasonably healthy. Finding items which tend to fill you up more if they’re going to be on the bad side also helps- like microwavable soft pretzels for me are not ideal healthwise, but they do feel like a more substantial snack, so I tend to go for them when I’m feeling like I need a bigger snack.

    I also find that I can reduce the amount I snack if I usually try to drink water instead of snacking. It doesn’t completely reduce the desire to snack, but it helps delay how often I do so. I also make sure that I don’t take more than a reasonable serving of my snack to my desk, so that if I want more I have to get up and get it, which slows me down and reduces how much I eat.

    During this period I expect everyone is having a harder time managing their weight (and probably has more limited options on what food they can even get right now), but every little bit counts.

  18. As someone who broke his wrist and heel bone after falling down a flight of stairs in November, and who has been sheltering in place since early December, I have some advice for you all: WHEN ON THE STAIRS, ALWAYS USE THE HANDRAIL.

    And if you think yourself too young and fit to need this advice, here’s some more: DON’T BE A KNUCKLEHEAD.

    Thank you for your attention.

  19. My daughter is a consultant physician in an Acute Medical Unit, the tip of the sharp end; the first nurse to die of Covid-19 worked in a similar unit.

    Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who had a penchant for ‘herd immunity’ before it finally dawned on him much later that killing a couple of hundred thousand people was not a good thing if you wanted voters to like you, He ignored the medical advice about transmission and proudly proclaimed the fact that he had shaken hands with lots of people infected with Covid-19 and that he intended to carry on doing so.

    He tested positive for it 10 days ago and was admitted to hospital tonight. We have a right to be angry about the avoidable suffering he has caused. We would be fools if we weren’t.

  20. Hi John, I pre-ordered the audio version of “The Last Emperox” already, but I wanted to get an autographed copy when your book tour was near enough to drive to. Since that’s cancelled is there an alternate way to do that yet? Sorry if you’ve covered that somewhere else, I’ve been a bit distracted lately. I guess I’m “lucky?”, I’m considered essential personnel at critical infrastructure or some-such. My work-a-day life hasn’t changed much at all, but try going to the grocery store! Yeesh!

  21. OK, was going through the backlog of posts I missed recently and found my answer! I’ll have to check with Jay & Mary’s tomorrow. I picked up my autographed copy of “The Consuming Fire” in Richmond, VA during the book tour for that. It was nice to see you there!

  22. I’ve pre-ordered The Last Emperox from my local bookstore, so there’s that.

    I just got off the phone with a friend whose husband had a stroke over a week ago. They managed to get him to the hospital within 45 minutes and got him that miracle anti-stroke drug, so he’s generally okay, thank gawd. But I was horrified at the idea of needing to go to a hospital for anything at all these days. She said she wasn’t allowed in there so didn’t know what was going on in the place, but he’s home now.

    There was some guy on the Internet who did crazy shit with knives and then well, fell into one of those knife sculptures. And that guy who stuck the magnets up his nose. Man, I’d hate to have to go to the hospital for dumbass shit I did to myself. I just hope I don’t trip trying to do 10,000 steps in my apartment.

  23. Thanks for the updates; good to hear others are going through much of the same things…

  24. Feeling a bit cranky when you don’t exercise is a good thing.
    It’s a symptom that your body is adapting to the exercise and likes it. Too much of it and you might become an adrenaline junkie, but that might take a while/not be advisable at this current time!
    Stay safe:-)

  25. I see that TDS is going just fine here, in somewhat smaller doses than normal. Over here in CT, the death toll has been small (thankfully) and the only outrageous thing that we’re dealing with is that our governor (a Democrat) announced that a six week old baby passed away from COVID19. Turned out to be a major lie that , as the real cause of death was being accidentally smothered by the caretaker. Apparently the new legal normal, as recommended by the CDC, is if the person who passed away was asymptomatic (I believe that that’s the proper word to use) for COVID19, then that is what should be listed for the cause of death, instead of the actual cause of death on the death certificate.

    remember kids, lying is prevalent with BOTH PARTIES.

  26. Asymptomatic means not showing symptoms. By definition all corpses are asymptomatic, so it is difficult to see the point you are trying to make; the presence of the virus is something which can be tested for, and positive results are reported on death certificates even when there may be other causes of death. I have no means of knowing what the local newspaper reported since it does not allow its articles to be read in the U.K.

    However, your claim that the Governor was lying suggests that you don’t give a toss about the baby; you are just looking for a way to attack the Governor for his political affiliations. My daughter is risking her life caring for seriously ill patients and clowns like you are trying to use the death of an infant to flog your vindictive view of the world. You should be ashamed of yourself, though shame is probably beyond your moral capabilities.

  27. Scalzi said: “a term for “the weight we all gain because it’s quarantine and, well, fuck it”: The Quaran-fifteen.”

    I’m using ‘QuaranTeens’ – it gives me a bit more leeway…..

  28. Went to the grocery store yesterday for perishables after tying a scarf over my face. Some things that were said before I left:
    “Are you planning to rob a stagecoach?”
    “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.” (Extra points if you know the source of that quote.)

  29. I saw a Twitter thread that said if the last 3.5 years were the plot of a novel, how far would you get in it before you threw away the book with great force?

    The only think I hope is that there isn’t a sequel.

  30. I used to have a really heavy, heavy sugar intake, all day long from breakfast to drinks to snacks and desserts… It is only when I went cold turkey on the sugar that I realised how much it was impacting my health, my mood,…
    So, yes, even a cutback on those soft drinks might already help.
    Bright side, today I can take some limited amount of sugar and enjoy it – while another surprising aspect, cutting off sugar helped me rediscover other different tastes, for example I can enjoy the taste of a white beer or of « endives ».

  31. My office went to remote work on March 13, so I am at the beginning of week 4. I got trained for this whole productivity-in-isolation thing last year when I was unemployed for six months. On the good side, the spouse is also still working (not quite as much as previously, but sufficiently); this is a major good.

    Even more good, when he is not working, he has his man-cave with all necessary amenities so that we are not constantly in each other’s space during my workday. We are seeing more of each other, but in the evenings when he used to see clients. A lot of bad stuff is happening in the world, but not in our house. We are fortunate. I am even keeping up with my yoga.

  32. Even though hubby is retired, I’m semi-retired (writing, editing, and craft income), and we don’t do much, we’re noticing a big difference just because we are restricting grocery visits (for him) and the various small socializing bits I’ve done over the years. My Soroptimist club has basically shut down because the international body has basically said “insurance will not cover any activities you do.”

    I do get out to ride my horse. Since I’m a rough boarder (translation, she lives in pasture, only she and a halter are on site, everything else is under my control, plus all the barn owner does is provide feed and pasture space, I monitor her condition and provide regular care) I can still see her without fear of contagion. Everything is outside–riding on roads or in pasture (arena is still too muddy), grooming and tacking. Occasionally I’ll see friends while riding on the roads and visit, but horse provides our own social distancing (even though she’s 20 years old she has one button when out on the roads…go go go).

    Meanwhile, the big thing here is that I’m working on book two of my near-future agripunk thriller trilogy. 2055 is a lot more fun than 2020, and the story is definitely living up to the thriller tag (biobots! killer biobots! Rogue body-modded indentured servants! Corporate crime family dynamics! Slow burn reunion of a divorced couple! Agtech!). The first book was going to be my traditional publishing submission breakthrough book. Given what I’m hearing about the situation in publishing right now, though, I’m thinking that a book from a sixty-something cis white woman with some tradpub short story credits is going to be a pretty damn low priority right now, no matter how exciting and entertaining it is. So I’m looking at writing the whole damn thing first, then doing the quick release with adequate promotion in the fall. But it’s a fun story to write and is keeping me sane right now.

    When I’m not writing or reading or riding, I’m making masks. This was also the year that I was supposed to have a breakthrough with artsy science fiction and fantasy-themed fabric art and kitchen stuff (aprons, bowl cozies, hot pads, wall hangings, lap quilts, and soon oven mitts), including farmers’ market and craft show participation. Welp, that’s not going real, either. So I’m making masks.

  33. I live in a much denser population area, and I’ve recently gotten accustomed to going for a walk when it’s raining. No problems with people to dodge, and the photography can be spectacular (if difficult).

  34. My cat senses something is up with my husband. He is sn essential worker with the Red Cross and has to go into work M-F because our home internet can’t handle his work load.

    He doesn’t want me going out to shop. I’m allowed to go on drives with him. That’s it. I might be a little cranky today. I binged on a powdered peanut butter, protein powder & almond milk shake. Hmmm.

  35. I live in Tampa and most of the residential areas look like a ghost town, so I can bike for exercise and not worry about social distances.

    There is so many contrary things to try and figure out. They say to get out and get some fresh air, but then they take all of the places to do that away from you. I love to kayak and do that for sport and other exercise, but they closed all of the county parks along the river. One, that belongs to another city, is open but 100 to 150 people are using it, so distancing is a problem.

    The thing that really gets me is that I now have to go to the grocery four times a week because they limit the amount of canned cat food I can buy.

    So many things that defeat the point of trying to stay away from the virus. Too bad we don’t have a leader to make it make sense. I also don’t know if what I do for money will ever get back to normal. Designing leisure products might be dead.

  36. Oh, man, where to start?
    First off – I’m working from home (architect) and my bosses are hoping for the same Pre-COVID (or better) productivity from everyone. I find myself so jealous whenever I see an article or ad about “Have you already binged your favorite movies? books? music? here’s a few more to watch, read, listen to WHILE YOU ARE DOING NOTHING!”. GAHHHHH!

    Husband is trying to cool it… toning down the TV in our tiny apartment while I try to work. But, when I’m out and about, out comes the Fox TV with all the negativity, repetitive stories, and cross talk. I swear, these people were raised by wolves. This drives me into the bedroom to be quiet, hug the cats, cry a little. Or it drives me out the door for a drive. Hey, look, San Francisco is still there across the bay!

    My husband and I are right in the sweet spot for pre-existing conditions that make us vulnerable. Actually I have more conditions, but this is not a competition. I am very cautious with myself and others, but I feel a big red target on the top of my head, waiting for the virus to find it. Yes, it’s possible I need to take more meds for Anxiety. Or hey – start drinking! The only real respite is writing. Facebook posts. Little short stories. E-mails.

    Then I read the articles about what’s going on around the world… and I feel ashamed about feeling jealous, feeling anxious, feeling scared, feeling stuck in cement.
    I try to shake it off: I realize my nearest and dearest are OK (Insane, but that’s nothing new). I’m able to get most services I need – even vet care for the cats (drive up services). No real shortages in the store other than TP. I consider myself fortunate, dreaming of the day this curse leaves us. Walking into the restaurant or movie theater, yelling out “Hello everyone! I MISSED YOU!”

  37. Frankly, I am nervous… One element that the pandemic brings out is disparity. In a FaceBook forum (my first mistake), I mentioned that we were being encouraged to wear masks in public. I wrote that a me, a Black man, wearing a cloth mask in a supermarket, and skittish scared affluent suburbanites probably won’t have any negative consequences and got a tirade from a racist woman who said that coronavirus knows no color. This not a rare fear (https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/04/05/opinion/why-i-dont-feel-safe-wearing-face-mask/?fbclid=IwAR2Mxp9XlRNrEKI4PeYjfhIPnJxn95TfUBEb9VkOcKQxBhvh-S1caVTfLPE) and I think that the current statistics (Black people at 11% of the population make up 40% of the Covid 19 deaths) indicates that we have to do better. Unfortunately, all of that infrastructure we are relying on from delivery people, mail carriers, bus drivers, garbage services, nurses are enriched in people of color.

  38. Things have been shutting down in Austin, Texas in stages since SXSW was canceled four weeks ago. UT-Austin, where I work, closed the campus for regular business March 13th, and the City of Austin issued an order for residents to stay at home on March 24th.

    We have been using webmail, MS-Teams, and ZOOM for video conferencing. Working from home admittedly is taking some getting used to. My cat Daisy finds it curious that I’m around every day. I occasionally go out for shopping and take-out runs on my bike. There are now lines out the doors at the local big chain stores, but I have started going to neighborhood store instead. Bread, dairy, soup, pasta, coffee, toilet paper, and corn chip shelves are chronically depleted.

    Things I’m missing: Going to yoga classes, the movies, the book stores, and the Austin Life Drawing meetups. And just sitting down in a restaurant or cafe. You know, getting out and about.

  39. Dear Stevie,

    Have you noticed that the only people who seem to be… well… deranged are the one trafficking in “TDS” rhetoric?

    If anyone cares, here are the most recent CDC reporting recommendations:

    Click to access vsrg03-508.pdf

    It’s not my website, and I know better than to tell John how to run his, but that post is disinformation. If it were me, it’d be gone.

    No, not true.

    If it were me, I’d be backtracking his chain, and hacker-bombing his computer. A properly proportional response.

    pax / currently-covid-clean Ctein

  40. Huh. I thought the URL would just appear in the text. Didn’t expect it to insert a whole document.

    ???

    Sorry, John!

  41. rktrixy, there are wireless headphones available so that the TV can be muted while the headphone user still hears.

  42. A long time ago I went through the month-long (at least it was at that time) USAF aircrew Survival/Evasion/Resistance/Escape (SERE) course. Part of the course was a block on how to deal with being imprisoned in solitary confinement for an extended–perhaps years–period of time (Vietnam experience drove the course at that time).

    A number of years later I found myself one of the bubbas sitting in an underground Launch Control Center with a set of launch keys to a flight of Minuteman III ICBMS. The LCC had a small walkway–about 3 feet wide by 20 feet long–of clear space. The rest was equipment racks, water chiller tanks, supply cabinets, toilet, etc. The tour in that space, 120 feet under North Dakota, was usually a continuous 24 hour stretch, but it could extend to 2-3 days in the winter when storms rolled through and road conditions didn’t allow for the relief crew to safely reach the site. There was lots of vacant time with no where to go and nothing to do, sitting underground, waiting for the orders to wage Global Thermonuclear War. Aside from military comms there was no contact with the outside world–no TV, no radio, no internet. There were two of us down there at any given time, but with one of us at a time allowed to sleep that meant that most of the time you’d be awake alone.

    For most of us the first few months on crew duty saw us generally productive–bringing things from home to do, coursework/reading for graduate school courses, reading books/magazines/newspapers, writing letters, etc. But after a while ennui and inertia set in. I found myself being able to stare at the status display board with a hundred-odd indicator lights and being surprised that hours had passed. I realized that something had to change, so I dredged up the memories of SERE and began applying what I had been taught. Set a schedule; make sure the schedule contains exercise (it’s amazing how much you can do with body weight exercisee; google that term, “prisoner’s workout” or other such); work on keeping your mind active (anything from playing mental chess to solving partial differential equations in your head if that’s your background); keep your environment and yourself as clean, neat, and organized as you can; and if possible learn new things using resources from any books you are given to lessons from other prisoners.

    I’ve been following the SERE training again, and it’s been working again.

  43. My income stream has vanished for the foreseeable future so I was not able to buy The Last Emperox. I have put the ebook on hold from the library when it becomes available. Sorry*. But I hope you do get some compensation for borrowing from the library (I have absolutely no idea how that works and right now am feeling to apathetic and depressed to even look it up).

    *I’m Canadian, saying “sorry” is almost instinctual, we can’t help it. Sor…. nvmd.

  44. Glad things continue well for you. I am jealous that your student is home with you: mine is living in the attic of other student’s shared house. I continue to work full time from home, but am the only member of the family employed at the moment, so anxiety and, as rktrixey has described so well, I too am jealous. Not that I am getting much reading done. So, less than ideal but still hella well-off compared to so many.
    I am really surprised at the cats, though. They’ve all gotten more possessive of me, to the point that they are making nicer with one another. Used to be the family called me a cat-whisperer, now I am accused of hoarding. But hey, I got to vote without risking my life, so I have that going for me.

  45. Thanks, Steve. Yes, I have suggested these to himself, and he turns around to inform me of noise cancelling headphones I can wear. Oh. Yeah – I’m gonna walk around the apartment looking like someone telling a jet where to park. Sigh.

  46. Recently read a news item stating that in China, post quarantine a lot of couples are filing for divorce. Tough situations are a crucible.

    Lately the news contains a fair number of items under the category ‘People being jerks at the store.’ Seems like we’re sorting the ‘people’ from the ‘turds’.

    The local stores are now marking the check-out lanes with tape to indicate six-foot distances. Yesterday some jerk *wearing a mask* stood right at my elbow. I bit my tongue and regret not setting the stupid cow back. But it probably kept me out of jail ;-)