What have you been doing for fun?

This weekend I’m still having to work because I’m still about two weeks behind on a ton of deadlines.  But if we weren’t quarantined I’d have wanted to DO something, like go to the city or I dunno.  Something to break things up.  Weekends aren’t weekends when every day is like the one before.  The past few weeks I’ve been too busy with getting everything changed over to online on top of all my service obligations to feel like I was missing anything but it’s been a long time and I see a future with these weekends that aren’t really weekends in front of me.

I’ve been reading novels (mostly rereading Jayne Ann Krentz… comfort stuff) and eating very well (DH is stress-baking).  I’ve also been getting a little thrill from any online shopping that needs doing– I have a better understanding of why my grandma was on every mail order subscription service known to daytime television commercials.   Problem is, after I’ve taken care of our food needs by ordering groceries, and bought some fun stuff from places like nuts.com or coffee for DH from southernseason.com and random things for other people (birthday presents and care packages)… there’s not really much else I want right now.  What’s the point in buying clothes when I only wear pajamas and will likely be a completely different size at the end of this?  (I also told DH to buy some hot sauce from heatonist.)

I can’t really go for walks in the neighborhood because with everyone home and everyone going on walks, it’s been impossible to do a 6 foot distance AND also people TALK to me even when I’m just trying to get the mail.  Apparently I’m not starved for conversation yet (turns out a day of zoom meetings leaves me just as drained as a day of in person meetings!).  I could go to a much richer neighborhood where there’s more space and fewer people but I’m afraid of getting shot for not belonging (unlikely since I’m a middle-aged white female, but what if I cough?).  We’re also under a city-wide emergencies only rule and the uni sent an email saying that police were stopping people in cars (I wonder how social distancing works there…) and asking for proof that the person is essential personnel or going to get food or take-out.  I can probably avoid that again by being a middle-aged female with a nice but not luxury car, but still… and I can’t really take the family either.  I dunno.

DH is getting more socializing than usual.  People from his former lives scattered across the country have been remembering that he does a lot of gaming so they’ve been contacting him for online table-top games and video games.  So that’s pretty cool.  He’s also used to working from home, though the children interrupt both of us.  I’ve had a few texts from people checking in, but not really long conversations from people I don’t normally keep in contact with, probably because most people from my past are also dealing with online classes and children.  I know folks who regularly do things like book clubs are doing them virtually instead of in person, which is cool.  (I don’t want to do a bookclub, but I think it’s awesome that people who enjoy it are able to keep it up.)

So other than reading books and watching youtube videos, which I always do anyway, even on weeknights… I’m out of ideas for things to look forward to.  How have you been handling the need for fun or breaking up the routine?

What have you been doing to break up the days?  What do your weekends look like?  What have your quarantine buddies been doing?



  • Some of my students have started to hit crisis mode with lost jobs and lost job offers and having to move back in with family.  Some of them have families in crisis mode as well.
  • DH’s parents should be fine– they have pensions.  But his other relatives have been mostly laid off, including all the teens.
  • It’s not too late to apply to graduate school– our admissions was way down this year, so we still have rolling admissions!  Wait out the bad economy with a masters degree.  (I think we’re done with PhD stuff, but we still have plenty of MA slots… we probably still have financial aid.  And if we’re in this situation, other schools likely are as well.)
  • I war between feeling #blessed and feeling guilty.
  • DH and I have been trying to figure out how to just give money without having to buy anything to our favorite homemade noodle restaurant.  Credit card is our best method right now but we’d have to order and if we tipped it might just go to whoever did the curbside (this is our best idea so far though).  There’s a language barrier, so it’s hard to discuss this with them.  We don’t have much cash on hand.  A check seems weird and how would we get it to them?
  • The kids’ piano lessons have gone virtual.  I’m really hoping DC1’s violin lesson can–she just texted as I was typing this to say she’s doing zoom lessons now.  So that will be interesting.  I get how we can set up for violin since DH has a pretty professional setup already at his work-from-home computer, but piano is going to be a bit more difficult.
  • I’m using DH’s low quality cast-offs for my work-from home zoom set-up.  I’m also using my fancy ipad pro to record lectures.
  • Our internet is not great when everyone is at home.  Usually this is only a problem in summer, but it is a problem now.  DH has hard wired me into the internet which seems to help some, but it isn’t perfect, even when I’m just doing audio and not video.
  • I spent about 2 hours one day trying to figure out how to get graded exams into ecampus. Because the day before we got instructions telling us we can’t return graded assignments with emails. And then the student I tried to send something to via ecampus email did not get the email or the attachment. So I looked up how to upload exams in the grade center. But the graded exams are on my ipad, not my desktop, and I have no secure way of moving them to the desktop (since I’m not allowed to use cloud activities and don’t have the right kind of cable to connect my ipad to my desktop). And Safari won’t let me scroll in the grade center. So I figured out a kludge involving sorting by date added so the midterm column showed up in the screen, and then realized it resets the order after every single exam which is not realistic, so I went back to google. After determining that USC’s instructions for how to show scroll bars in IOS wasn’t going to work, I figured out that I could reorder the columns manually, but of course the reordering requires manual moving that does not work on the ipad. So I manually reordered columns on my desktop and can now go through the manual override process that the Vanderbilt webpage recommends for returning graded pdfs in ecampus. Test student got her exam back. This is not what I should be spending my time doing. :( (If I’d just graded my exams a day earlier I could have said I had no idea our email servers weren’t secure enough to send graded exams through and could have just said oopsie doopsie.  I bet a lot of profs are going to ignore that email saying it got lost.)
  • A lot of folks have been posting the wonderfully creative things their children have been doing while “unschooled”… my youngest has been leaving a creative path of destruction (DH:  why is the bathtub still full of water and why are there stuffed animals in it?).
  • Where we used to live for a year in paradise is giving rental assistance for families with income less than $100k who have lost substantial income.
  • We’ve been getting groceries delivered– $10 fee and we’ve giving a $10 tip on top of that (this is generally rounding up from their suggested tip).  They just drop the groceries off at our porch and I let them sit for a bit before taking them in, letting them sit a bit more, unpacking them, then washing my hands.  Usually the substitutes are pretty good, but vegan butter (aka fancy margarine) is not a substitute for cultured butter #richpeopleproblems.  I am grateful that we can do this.  See #blessed vs guilty.  (DH plans to use the “vegan butter” in pie dough, which will add flake even though we usually just do 100% butter for the flavor.)
  • My school put together a relief fund for students.  I donated.  I feel like heavily endowed private schools could do this without donations, but I’m at a public school and see a future with a recession and no raises for a while.
  • We bought a random care package from walmart.com for someone– random because all walmart had left were assorted random things.  Then the package got delayed, then split up weirdly.  So on Friday they got their first package, late at night:  A single box of Cascadian Farm organic granola.  The last package is going to be a single container of prunes.  And before that:  five cans of chicken noodle soup (Progresso).  In theory, today they’ll get the bulk of things (though I’m not sure how given they haven’t shipped), which will still be random, but not quite so weird.

Link Love

Did you get a weird postcard in the mail this week?

Upset about the bungled US pandemic response?  Swing Left has suggestions for activism you can do from home.

I hope this isn’t creepy stalkerish… but if you’d been worried about chacha, I ran across this brief update on whatever.

Five Short Answers to Way More Than Five Long Questions: COVID-19 Edition

I don’t watch much television, but I WOULD WATCH THIS.  The world needs this.

Ask the Grumpies: Why can politicians only get things done for short term intense emergencies (aka after the last minute)?

Debbie M asks:

Why are businesses and government officials doing things that are bad for business in response to coronavirus (when they wouldn’t in response to the climate crisis)? I like it, but I don’t get it. It’s not like they suddenly have morals. I don’t think they were pressured by their customers or citizens. Now that it’s started, there’s plenty of peer pressure. But I don’t see what inspired the first people to start doing the things (like canceling events and closing down bars) that previously would have been considered crazy.

This relates to a more general question that drives economists CRAZY.  For example, we have known that there’s an upcoming problem with social security since at least the 1980s.  We’ve also known at least a dozen different plans that would “fix” it with minimal pain if any of them had been implemented back in the day (all small cuts and small tax increases).  None of them happened.  Social Security fixes only happen at the last minute (as with the last fix) with much more pain than is needed.  It takes a lot of political will to do difficult things, but if the pain is now and the rewards are in the future, it’s not going to happen.  Political will usually only happens when the emergency is now.  When people see the reason for painful cuts.  Politicians don’t get credit for making small slightly painful cuts now to remove the chance of big gashes later.  So they sometimes try, but they don’t succeed.  It’s far easier to vote no, we can’t hurt this group of people even a tiny bit now until there’s actually a crisis that forces us to hurt people a lot in order to avoid catastrophy.  And then they can blame the people who didn’t make those tiny cuts in the past.

How do we fix this problem?  Well-functioning governments are great– when governments are run by good people we can get multi-national accords where some of the blame can be shared in the interest of global harmony etc.  The EU did a lot of stuff to fix long-term things (not enough, but they’d be much worse off without their accords) when they got together.  Similarly big climate change agreements have helped a little, though Trump really destroyed that.  For these to work, you need to not have the dominant party running on xenophobia.

So we could have taken steps against Corona-virus back in January (bringing back the CDC pandemics people, working internationally with test kits, upping ventilator/mask/glove/etc. production, rapid response grants, increasing customs employees, bringing people back to the US in an orderly and controlled manner, etc. etc. etc.).  But the Federal government opted not to.  Only when people in the US started dying did anything happen, and it’s mainly been happening at state and local levels, which is really not where the main leadership should be coming from for an infection disease that spills over to the entire country and beyond.  We have managed pandemics better before, and we learned from those pandemics… but Trump fired all those people pretty early on and just threw away all of our knowledge.  Instead of using known systems and experts, he gave the response to his son-in-law.  It’s infuriating.

Now I need to watch some cat videos.


So… I haven’t been getting my 6 hours/week of walking around the class plus 20-30 min/weekday of walking around the pretty landscaped area near my office.  The first week I did a lot of string playing with Nice Kitty and walked around the back porch reading, but it’s not really the same.

We’ve been tossing the kids out for bikerides (with instructions not to stop at the playground), but currently only have 2 adult-sized bikes (we were waiting for DC1 to stop being in a growth spurt before getting hir a more permanent bike, and then we forgot about it because zie has been using mine) and I really hate biking in the streets (the norm in our neighborhood is that kids bike on the sidewalks, but adults bike in the streets).

DH says we should walk around the neighborhood but… there are a lot of people walking around the neighborhood which makes it harder to social distance than usual.  Also it’s been raining a lot.

My sister, ever helpful, has been sending me links to things because she always thinks I should exercise/etc. more.  Here’s a meditation app she recommends.  Here’s more meditations.  Free workout classes.  30 days of yoga with Adreine.

My students got to rent exercise equipment for free from the (now temporarily closed) Orange Theory they would usually go to work out in.  It’s probably too late for us to buy a decent treadmill (or exercise bike etc.) and I’m not sure where we’d put one anyway.

After some discussion, DH and I have decided that we’re going to do something new each week of the quarantine to keep things interesting.  But we’re trying to decide what.   This week we’re doing the fitness ladder.

What are you doing to get exercise from home?  Do you have any suggestions?


What if you run low on toilet paper? A reminder about “family cloth”

So… we aren’t doing this and haven’t done this, but the other week we were down to 8 rolls of TP and the grocery store was out and we were fairly sure everything was about to get shut down for 2 weeks (oh, how naive we were!).  While DH drove to Walgreens, where he was eventually successful, I looked up family cloth on the internet.  Just in case.

So… what is family cloth?  It’s using cloth for pee instead of using toilet paper.  There’s a lot of discussion about it on the internet, most of it negative (“rich white people wanting to feel poor” “not actually that environmentally friendly”).  Here’s a buzzfeed article.

We did use cloth wipes for pee diapers for DC2 because poor DC2 was allergic to *everything* (this is also part of why DC2 responded really well to elimination communication).  And it was fine!

So for insurance purposes I ordered a bunch of cloth wipes from amazon. I got two kinds– some soft organic baby wipes and some super cheap white terry cloth baby washclothes.  My hope is that these remain unopened and we can donate them to refugee families once this pandemic dies down.  But if not, here’s my plan:

Put a bucket and some other container (plastic bag?) in the master bathroom.  Before TP runs out at home, get DH on board with family cloth for pee.  Talk to the kids about not using huge amounts of TP (I think they’re fine on this already?  I don’t keep track, but I haven’t noticed them running out unreasonably quickly, though who knows).  Put clean cloths in the plastic bag.  Used cloths go in the bucket.  When cloths run down, wash them in bleach.  Repeat.  (If it is a true emergency, we will cut down some old t-shirt rags into additional cloths.)  Reserve paper TP for poo.

Probably we should just get a bidet attachment for the toilet, but my sensitive American rear is still squicked out by that idea.  (Update:  bidet attachments have been sold out on amazon!)

Do you have back-up plans for shortages?

Link Love

#Quarantinecats is the best thing to come out of the quarantine (besides flattening the curve and saving lives, of course)

The local shop has been out of business for a couple months, but you can still order great coffee beans from Southern Season (not a paid link).  We’ve also sent two orders to nuts.com for non-perishables (also not a paid link).  Are there any non-Amazon mail-order businesses you’d like to give a shout out to?  (I suspect Zingerman’s is doing fine, even with all the college kids gone from Ann Arbor…)