Category: Humor

Weekend Links: Quarantine Edition

Wow. Whew. Okay.

How are we all, darlings? I don’t know about you but this weird sense of financial and political vertigo are just now starting to feel like the new normal. I’ve barely left my house in three days. My company is made up of the economic frontline of this situation and people have been working round the clock to try and understand announcements and circumstances as soon as they are made, and communicate to hundreds and thousands of colleagues who desperately want some stability. Everyone has been working at least 14 hours days. I am horribly aware that I’m just one of the lucky ones at the moment. Millions have been glued to the news trying to figure out What On Earth Is Going On, and the the vita question, What On Earth Are We Going To Do? I’ve been heartened and pleasantly surprised by the swiftness of the British government response – even though a lot of practical details clearly still need to be worked out. I’m keeping a wary eye on the US.

More than ever I’m grateful to live in a country where healthcare is a right. And in spite of the stress and anxiety, I’m bizarrely hopeful that what may eventually come out of this are systems that work better for PEOPLE than corporations. I hope the shock to the system makes people across the board less likely to cling to dogma and get more comfortable with experimentation and collective problem solving instead of the “Fuck You, Got Mine” attitude that we’ve all been either reacting to or wallowing in. I’m just heartsick that it takes something so drastic and with such high human costs for people to even consider it.

Stay safe, stay home, wash your hands, check in with loved ones. Drop me your updates in the comments and share (if you’re comfortable) any public social media where we can connect with one another. I will send hugs over the internet!

 

Unfiltered capitalism, ya’ll. Greed is not good.

An archaeological scandal, which we all know are the BEST scandals.

I didn’t know I needed this oral history, but I did and you do as well.

The billionaires want to become oligarchs and the politicians want to become billionaires. …In case you were wondering how we got here. (An old link but a relevant one given the state of…everything.)

This little guy just wanted to be left the **** alone, and honestly who could blame him!

I suspect we are all going to be needing some documentary recommendations in the coming weeks, and this one looks downright soothing.

So many people are being fundamentally decent right now. Some are doing it in big ways, others are doing it on a smaller scale. Way too many are also being arses, but my goodness, the initial outpouring of camaraderie and civic-mindedness is so humbling and heartening.

If you need something to do at home, may I suggest a museum virtual tour?

A plethora of subpar options is the foundation of modern shopping.” Another Amanda Mull knockout on the phenomenum of Premiocre.

Color me shocked, but YES! Universal Basic Income experiment now, thanks! (Insert snarky comment here about how it’s not unacceptable to Republicans when they’re in power, apparently, but whatever. Let’s try it. Let’s see what happens and measure the effects.)

It’s the corruption, stupid.

And if you are wondering why things like UBI are now suddenly popular (those of us who’ve wanted this for a while should shut up and warmly welcome them into the fold with love and solidarity) and hate stuff like the aforelinked corruption, THIS.

Why yes, I did need a story about wallabies being cared for right now.

Festival plans ruined? We’ve got an idea for you

ESPN is also rising to the occasion.

SDS fave McKay Coppins wrote a VERY timely and VERY Mormon article for The Atlantic.

This is brilliant.

Nice to be reminded that in crisis, most people aren’t assholes.

For comparison: good vs. bad.

Did someone open the damn Arc of the Covenant, or what?!

This is going to get a lot grimmer before it gets better.

But! Let’s end on a silly and fun note, shall we?

The Year in Albums So Far

Inspired by a chat with longtime Friend of the Blog Grace, I’m sharing what I’ve been listening to so far this year as part of my goal of listening to a new-to-me album each week of 2020. By far my best discovery is Snoh Aalegra, who also featured in my February Favorites post.

While I tend to prefer spoken word – podcasts, audiobooks, and so on – I know that music is helping a lot of my nearest and dearest right now. Check out my finds so far and then share your favorite artists and albums or newest discoveries in the comments with the rest of the coterie.

Ugh, those feels again, by Snoh Aalegra

Black Messiah, by D’Angelo

Music to Be Murdered By, by Eminem

Feels, by Snoh Aalegra

Hotspot, by Pet Shop Boys

Sanctuary, by Genghar

New Hope Club, by New Hope Club

Don’t Explain, by Snoh Aalegra

Lucky Ago, by Color Theory

La Vita Nuova, by Christine and the Queens

Foreigner, by Jordan McKampa

 

 

£28 per day

I’ve been thinking a lot about saving and spending in new ways – and that was before a week of chaotic economic news. There are a million things up in the air at the moment and I imagine most of us are looking at our bank accounts, wallets, and budgets and trying to run calculations for a variety of scenarios in our heads.

I was listening to a podcast recently where the casual number was thrown out that if you wanted to save or spend £10,00 for instance, that amounted to just under £28 per day. I admit I sort of scoffed, the number seemed so absurdly accessible but later when doing my budget for the month I realized how deceptive it was.

Could you spend £28 a day as a reasonable output of coin?All too easily!

My travel (public transport) runs between £2-5 a day.

If I choose to buy a coffee on the go, that’s another £2-4.

If I bring my lunch, which I try to do, I can claw back some savings, but otherwise will spend £5-10 for a meal. This inevitably depends on my travel and work arrangements for the day.

Because we have a small fridge we tend to do lots of small shopping trips rather than fewer large ones, so every other day or so I’ll stop by a grocery store on the way home. Depending on what we need to pick up, this will range between £15-30.

Do I need to renew my prescription medication? £9 per pick up. Thank god for the NHS!

Are our monthly bills coming out this week? That’s £100.

Depending on what day it is, I will spend no money at all – walking to work or working from home, prepared food and a stocked kitchen, and no bills due – to well over a hundred pounds. The above doesn’t even include costs that Jeff and I share or which he budgets and pays for, including therapy appointments, council tax, mobile phone bills…we have a combined income household but we each assume responsibility for different financial commitments. It doesn’t include our social life in the form of travel, food/tickets, and so on. God knows it doesn’t include the immigration fees we’ve paid this year or any other expat specific paperwork, like renewing my passport. It doesn’t include our rent! In short, yes, it’s entirely possible to spend £28 a day without blinking!

And so, at the moment, with so many unknowns and uncertainties, that’s a metric I can focus on or build some kind of structure around. Can I save an additional £28 a day right now, on top of our other aggressive goals? I can sure as hell try.

It’s devil’s arithmetic, and I’m fortunate to be in the situation that I am personally. Many, many people are crunching much harsher numbers.

If you’re affected by the coronavirus situation – increasingly most of us! – what money metrics are you looking towards right now? Is anything giving you a sense of balance or planning? Or is it frankly causing you dread – and how are you coping? Let’s do some real talk and solidarity in the comments, kittens, and look out for one another a bit. 

So, You’re WFH Now…

Welcome, WFH virgins! Some of us have been here before, some of us live here permanently (s/o to Friend of the Blog Caitlin, full time freelance journalist who has already left you some fabulous ideas). Either way there are about to be a lot more of us in this together.

Chatting to my younger sister who is at university in Japan and dealing with an adjustment to remote schooling, she mentioned that she always thought working from home would be great but that it doesn’t suit her nearly as well as she thought it would. And I don’t blame her! Our society is still by and large not set up for flexible working, which requires different emotional and time management skills than the ubiquitous office or manufacturing structures which has defined lifestyles for the last two centuries.

Now, I happen to believe that while due entirely to cosmic circumstance, this moment can function as a social experiment for a lot of things and flexible working is one of them. If you believe, as I do, that it’s a cultural change we should make for more people to better enable working families to meet their commitments and to reconsider structures that have systemically penalized women, disabled or otherwise impaired people, and other groups, it’s on us all to make the experiment as successful as we can.

Here a few of the takeaways I picked up as a full time freelancer, who transitioned back to more typical office life and was increasingly moving into the “mobile/flexible” category before all of…this…happened.

Take sensible advantage of the situation. If you are working from home and need to be “live” from a certain time, make sure you’re meeting those commitments…but also let yourself hit the snooze alarm if you need it. Without a commute, it’s okay to allow that time to just be or to take longer with things that you usually rush in the morning. Just because you have more time doesn’t mean you need to fill it up immediately.

That being said, get up. Shower. Put on an outfit that isn’t pajamas. If you’re new to this it’s easy for your brain to confuse home time with leisure time, family time, or “me” time. You will have to train yourself to think in different ways about your usual surroundings, and psychological cues like putting on real clothes (instead of your weekend athleisure, flannel trousers, or other equivalent that you might typically wear in your off time) helps.

Caveat: it’s okay to occasionally break the above rule if it brings you pleasure.

Breaks are still important. In the same way that you need to make yourself a tea or coffee, walk to a cornershop for your lunch or snacks, linger at the water cooler with a colleague in order to stretch your legs or clear your head about a task or problem, the same goes when you’re WFH.

Your metrics are going to change. Some companies and organizations have made this leap long ago, but many others are still nervous or unconvinced about flexible working arrangements. Both employees and bosses have to communicate well and evaluate the metrics they use to measure output and manage their workforces. Measuring success by output or outcome, rather than physical presence is one metric, how and how often you check in with your team can be another. Change is okay, but be prepared to communicate through it.

Work best with music? Put it on. There are no colleagues to annoy or chide you.

While not relevant to the immediate present, don’t forget that WFH can also mean working from a coffee shop, a bookstore, or a library. When I was freelancing full time I found myself going stir crazy, sitting in the same chair at the same desk in the same TINY London apartment for months at a time. Working from different locations allowed me to vary things up while still putting myself in circumstances that facilitated my work. Libraries were my favorite, but I also used museum reading rooms and did coworking days with other freelance friends where we spent a day at one or the other’s house and enjoyed lunch and tea breaks together to break out the bursts of hours-long productivity! (Obviously in a pandemic, don’t do this! But at some point we will have to think beyond and after it and the tools and resources we build now may serve us a long while.)

Take your lunch. If you like to cook, use the kitchen to make yourself something nice, healthy, and fun.

Consider using website or app blocking tools to keep you from getting distracted – at least until you’ve developed the new self-discipline and mental redesign you need to do to separate your living time from your working time.

Go for a walk on your 15-minute break, especially if you have a neighborhood park or green space available to you. Or use it to run a sensible short errand. Our postal depot is a five minute walk from where I live and if I’m working from home I’m able to pick up or post packages.

 

What do you think, fellow freelance veterans? If you’ve worked from home, what worked for you? What would you recommend, or what advice do you think needs to be thrown out the window? 

Give Yourself a Break and Follow Some Farms on Twitter

It’s odd what you retain from childhood, but I have vivid memories of an old VHS from my very youngest years that featured footage of baby animals and songs. Prime toddler content, if ever there was any.

Well, joke’s on me because here in the year of Our Lady Beyonce 2020, it turns out I’m still turning to wee cuteness to self-soothe. And since we’re all increasingly on lockdown and I suspect your timeline could do with a regular palate cleanser in the cascading flow of bad news, please enjoy these three actual Twitter accounts that I follow of farmyard animals. It’s just so darn wholesome!

The World’s Smallest Sheepdog. Meet Inca, the small but fierce chief herder at a sheep farm in Ireland. And she’s not alone! The cast of fellow farmyard characters features a cat named Ovenmitt, a variety of canine companions, and daily views into a working sheepfarm. The tiny dog in question recently birthed equally tiny pups and every day the farmer posts charming updates into their general wellbeing and antics. It’s disgustingly cute. Bonus: it’s lambing season and the sheer number of baby animals might cause you to squee loudly.

Speaking of farmyards, let me make you known to Cuthbert the goose. Caenhill Countryside Centre provides education and activities for visitors, as well as classes on traditional agricultural or rural skills. Each morning they post what has become hashtagged #rushhour, the unbelievably delightful moment when the team opens the barn door and lets the fowl out. There is also a memorable family of mousing barn cats, a plethora of goats, seasonal lambs, and some adorable donkeys. Cuthbert is the star of the yard however, please enjoy his surprisingly friendly honks.

Crouton. Ladies and gentlemen, I follow this cow on twitter. Crouton lives at a sanctuary and has been documented from being a small calf to the bovine king he is now. This is another case of a burgeoning dramatis personnae of farm animals, including a pig named Rhubarb (or Roo). A new calf named Pumpernickle has recently joined the crew and is just as cute.

Things Are Rough. Have Some Nice Stuff to Make it Better.

Because the world is a mess, have ANOTHER batch of good things for your weekend, my ducklings. SELF. CARE.

 

Stream some opera.

Chill for 6 hours.

Read something!

Listen to Yo-Yo Ma.

Resist the brands and companies that are working overtime to sell you stuff you don’t need.

DO shop smart and DON’T contribute to artificial shortages. We’ve got enough problems, people!

Donate blood, money, or goods if you can do so.

Also consider vulnerable communities who may be experiencing additional deprivations, on TOP of preexisting hardships.

Do a wardrobe edit (and find a reputable organization to donate them to).

Cook!

Take a bath.

Make cocktails with your significant other or your co-self-isolaters of all stripes – no bars!

Get more sleep.

 

Weekend Links

What. A. Week.

I’m dropping the links early because I’m sort of on holiday (though in practice still doing quite a bit of work as my business and its clients are, like so many, having to track and take decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in real time). And I’m honestly afraid what else is going to land before the end of the day.

If anything good comes out of a pandemic (and isn’t that a grim thing to think), it may be that it finally forces us to interrogate our society. Is healthcare a right? Should internet access be a utility in the digital age, and not a commodity? How feasible is remote working really, and what is actually preventing it from being more common? Why are we okay with some people getting “bailouts” but not others? What do we perpetuate which we could actually stop if we chose? What do we accept as “normal” mostly because changing it will take work? In the words of The Good Place:

 

As usual, she’s not wrong.

This is a short film, not a commercial.

It’s not just about the immediate people who get sick and die, as awful as that isl; it’s about the ripple effects that keep spreading outward in expanding rings. That’s why we have broader societal organization and governments, and kind of dismantling or disempowering we have inflicted on our institutions (or, in the case of healthcare, failed to build) is dangerous.

Also, science! Really not great all this troll and scammer uplift that has made so many distrust it. From drinking bleach or taking supplements to cure coronavirus to flat earther to anti vaxxers…we badly need this “alternative facts” culture to unravel fast.

Hope for a cure.

I am living for the Duchess of Sussex in jewel tones (that GREEN!), managing her exit like a champ. The hint of matching lining for her husband’s coat, the perfect smile to the camera. I hope the tabloid press is boiling with vexation at themselves.

Irony is dead, part 1,000,000 of an infinite series.

This article might have been baked up in a lab for me and me alone.

Be a dame, wear vintage.

GOOD.

A lot of people need to hear this, including me: do not mistake being educated and informed with DOING politics.

The Atlantic has dropped its paywall for coronavirus coverage, and the solid, accessible journalism they are doing is a good place to start if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about the situation.

I just…I can’t…2020 needs to stop!