Mar 30 2020

Day 14: Hang On, John

Published by under The Daily Grind

One of my heroes, singer-songwriter John Prine, is sick with the virus and in critical condition. He’s beaten cancer a couple times, so maybe he’ll survive this.

I’ve been wandering around the house singing the refrain to my favorite Bert Jansch song: I am lonely. I am lost.

Speaking of which, some weeks ago Molly got me to download Marco Polo on my phone. (Ma: Marco Polo is software that lets you record and send videos to your friends.) I don’t know what possessed me to sing her a song just now. This is embarrassing because I never sing in front of anyone, but I’m going to put it here anyway because what the hell. I can’t believe I’m doing this. And what’s with my stupid bangs?

“I Am Lonely”

My friend Adi just sent me a link to yet another musical number, this one recommended by her friend who’s a science journalist specializing in things like plagues. Don’t play this in front of children, please.

I’m unhealthily wired to technology at the moment, but as long as I cut back after this is over, I guess it’s not the end of the world. If you see me posting here constantly in another month, then it may be time for an intervention.

Oh, wait. You may need to give me more time than that. The SF Chronicle:

The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order will be extended to May 1 to try and curb the still-spreading coronavirus, San Francisco City Hall sources said…

[Thanks for alerting me, Eleni.]

I definitely don’t have enough toilet paper to last that long.

Gavin Newsom’s early implementation of the rule does appear to be working in California. A populous state, we have “only” about 6,500 confirmed cases now, compared to roughly 60,000 in New York.

I just solved a Wednesday NY Times crossword all by myself. Usually Ma has to help me (via telephone). Expert puzzlers would not be confounded by these clues, but I was:

  • Makes hazy = BEDIMS
  • Tiniest bit = MINIM

Oh, guess what: I just got a text from Anna’s daughter Amy in San Diego, who found some toilet paper on a site called I jumped on and ordered a package. $35 seems steep to me, but at least I won’t have to resort to using leaves.

I painted a dog with funny teeth:

It’s only 11:49 a.m. and the day yawns before me, an abyss. Hope I figure out something worthwhile to do.

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Mar 29 2020

Day 13: Zoom

Published by under The Daily Grind

Yesterday afternoon I had a chat scheduled with my two daughters. At the last minute Eleni wasn’t able to join us, but I did get to talk to Molly and her feline Chessie.

Since so little is going on in my life, there wasn’t much fodder for conversation, so we used our time together to explore Zoom’s inner workings. Like, you can click a button and this is what happens:

All was going swimmingly until we investigated Zoom’s option to share computer screens. Just to test that capability, I enabled it and handed over the reins to my trustworthy daughter. Big mistake. What does she do but immediately rush over to Facebook and start to compose a post on my account, as me.

I wrested control from her before damage was done. Well, you’d think I’d live and learn, right? Once bitten, twice shy and all that? But I had a technical problem on my blog that we thought she might be able to solve. Within 30 seconds of gaining entry, she had the issue figured out. But before I could stop her, she then opened YouTube on my computer and started to play an ABBA video of Dancing Queen, a song that she knows makes me homicidal. Here’s something all Zoom users, and American voters, should know: if you give power to the wrong person, bad things happen. I started to click the little red Stop Sharing button at the top of the screen with increasing franticness, to no avail. The song burbled on and the images of four saccharine Swedes swayed across my monitor, while Molly blocked my attempts to cut her off. Here’s the truth of it: if the person to whom you’ve granted access doesn’t want to relinquish authoritarian control, you can’t stop him them.

Another auto-generated drawing prompt: A two-headed dragon reading a book.

Oh, cool: Today’s New York Times featured a list of movies under 1.5 hours for people like me with short attention spans. A few of the films looked interesting so, as a reminder to myself, I’m going to link to them here. Maybe you’d be interested in one?

My big adventure today, after not having gotten out of the house yesterday, was to walk in the light rain to the ATM (my branch office is closed for the duration) and then the half-mile to the farmers market, which remains open. An article in yesterday’s SF Chronicle said that farmers markets are safer places to shop than grocery stores. I bought a few things, like fresh king salmon.

On my walk home, as I passed a house reverberating with percussion—Bang de-bang bang THUMP, bang bang bang CRASH—I realized how lucky I am to be sheltering in place with Elana and not a drummer.

The day is still young but I think I’ll publish this now anyway. Bye.

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Mar 28 2020

Day 12: Counting Squares

Published by under The Daily Grind

I had a video call with Cheryl last night. While I was waiting for her to join I noticed that, when you wave your hands really fast in front of the camera, it creates an unusual effect.

I looked out my back window around 6:30 this morning and observed in the dawn light two amorous blue jays in my yard. The guy impressed his intended by hopping in circles around her, but when he tried to close the deal, she’d have none of it. He gave up and flew away into the bushes. She followed. But wait: maybe that was two males, because they were both brightly colored.

The toilet paper situation is not quite as dire since I received the four rolls from Ma, but I’m rationing: carefully unrolling one, two, three squares at a time.

Ever seeking something to occupy my underutilized mind, I searched online for more art prompts and found a site that generates them. Here’s the inspiration it spat out for me to draw: In the distance, a great beast rose from the treetops.

Eleni told me about a 12-week MOOC class on Coursera called Bugs 101, offered by the University of Alberta. I signed up for it just to see what it’s like.

I’m trying to snack less, but pants are clearly tighter than when this shelter in place started.

It’s fun to look through the digitized images from Mom’s scrapbooks, which she’s kept since 1949. I just opened a file at random, and this is what was there:

Jay, Kate, Dad, Ginna, Ma, 1964

I was just telling my housemate Elana that I’m having a hard time focusing on activities, and minute to minute jump from one to the next like a flea. She was amused to picture my head on a flea body, so I had to Photoshop it for her.

Okay, I’m going to go watch The Good Place on Netflix for 30 seconds. Then I might give Coursera’s Introduction to Arthropods video a try. Forty-five seconds later, I’ll check my e-mail and then run back to Netflix to sample the series that Molly wants me to see, called Pose. Give me a minute for that, and then it’ll be time to pace. I don’t know what’s wrong with my concentration, but my lack thereof is frustrating.

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