Aug 20

Kindly wear a mask

A friend of ours made us some really clever artistic masks. She found this pattern, which you can download for a minimal charitable donation. And since she’s crafty, she’s been making her friends — even us! — masks. She says it takes about 10 minutes per mask. I figured that’s for a person who really knows their way around the sewing machine. And then I saw tutorial video, using that pattern, and it took 14 minutes. And that was with the extra “Hey, look at this, because this is a tutorial and I am trying to show you the finer points of making this thing.” So it takes her 10 minutes, and she’s a charming friend who wants the people she cares about to be safe. And stylish.

And because I want the people I care about to be safe, I have a lot of masks now. I have three or four of these custom masks. I’ll wear these on days when I don’t have to interact closely with too many people. I have two the university sent me, which I’ll keep in the office as backups. I a big stack of high quality masks, which I’ll wear for those instances where I do have to work closely with others.

You can’t go onto our campus without wearing a mask. You’re not supposed to go into any non-private building in this county without a mask.

Listening to anecdotes of people I know well, and watching the grim numbers climb and climb and climb, and knowing what I’ve given up this year, I’ve come to a simple formulation. If you can’t wrap your mind around these simple concepts, I don’t have a lot of time for you.

We’re almost six months into this now. This didn’t sneak up on you. This is not a surprise. Something transmitted via droplets, or air, involves your respiratory system. (The external elements of which include your mouth and nose, if you are confused.) Take the necessary precautions. Avoid close contact with people whenever you can. Stay away from crowds. Don’t do silly things like restaurants or big communal events. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

Yes. Your friends are your friends. Sure, you know them. Of course they are nice people. They wouldn’t be your friends, otherwise. We aren’t talking about sharing needles. And it’d be silly to think they’d willingly do anything maliciously to you. They’re your friends, after all, but we aren’t talking about stealing your wallet.

When your charming, kind, sweet, professional, talented, educated, well-traveled, erudite friends hang out with you, sans precautions, you’re at risk. And so are they. Now this is where logic comes in and it gets fuzzy, but concentrate. If they’re hanging out with you in such a devil-may-care attitude it’s likely they are doing it with their other friends, too. And so on and so on. When one person down that chain gets sick, that’s where it begins, and it comes to you. And then you bring it to people you care about.

You must be proactive. The more proactive you can be, the better. Now, here’s the really, really tricky part. We don’t have to leave this to the fates. You can do those simple things — avoid close contact, crowds, restaurants and communal events and washing your hands and wearing a mask — for yourself and for others. Including those people you would say you care about.

Can’t do that? You’re reckless. You’re selfish.

These are facts; they aren’t up for discussion.

Aug 20

Free S&H

Do you know that moment when you’re on a great sale on a website? You put a few things in your cart and then you realize you’re just a few dollars shy of reaching the almost mythical free shipping threshold. You sit there for a while, wondering what sort of algorithms the company used to arrive here.

Sure, they’re not going to ship at a big loss. So that’s the first level. But, then, you have to think about the prices of things on offer. How do they set the tiers such that you’re so often thiiiis close to the free shipping? It’s a sales and marketing ploy, of course, but a brilliant one. And it’s a commonly successful one, too. You knew exactly what we’re talking about here. You’ve been there. We’ve all been there. Just the other day I was there, within three bucks.

And so what do you do?

You try to estimate the amount of shipping. Is that more than you wish to pay? Does this add some definition to the items you’re considering buying? Is the shipping a deal breaker? Or, alternatively, is there something else that you can throw in? Something small that will just nudge you into that free shipping category.

Which is funny because, of course, the three, now four things you’re buying won’t arrive at the same time. That was the case today, when part of my shipment arrived. I’d ordered a few shirts and this tie. It cost five bucks, and “earned” me the free shipping.

Joke’s on them. I need to retire a similar-looking yellow tie, anyway. And a fine, brand new piece of neckwear for just $5? A good joke, indeed.

Joke’s on me. I haven’t worn a tie since March. Who knows when we’ll do that again.

Jul 20

Masks can be art, too

We went out for an errand today. We, being the responsible sort, wore masks.

It’s odd, somehow, that we’re the responsible ones. We went out to get gas for the cars. More so because we had to use some fuel points before they expire at the end of the month than needing fuel. We missed the expiration of fuel points last month. And the month before that we got fuel because it was cheap, and we had a big discount and not-at-all empty tanks.

We’re staying at home. (I mean, just look at that hair.) We’re wearing masks. I hope you are too. Keep yourself safe. And, do it for others.

Also, these masks — highlighting the mascot, Gritty, and the band, Guster — were presents from The Yankee’s god-sister, who is very kind and works with this stuff in a university laboratory. So she wants you to wear a mask, too.

I had this setup in place today:

And if the many pieces of foam are up that can only mean one thing in my tiny home-office. It’s time to record something.

This gentleman is the director of the Eskenazi Museum here on the IU campus. They have 45,000 objects, with about 1,400 on display. Wikipedia tells me the collection ranges from Picasso to Pollock. There’s ancient jewelry and artifacts from all over the world. Coming up, when they reopen in the next few weeks, will be a wide array of exhibits. But, here, we talked about how museums, in general, are doing without foot traffic.

It’s a great museum, even if he wasn’t ready, today, to say when they are re-opening. That news, he said, is coming next week. I’m guessing late August, early September.

And you’ll need to wear a mask.

Jul 20

The menagerie

All are well here after another quiet weekend. We had a bike ride on Saturday morning and had the traditional weekly Chick-fil-A. Chatted with some friends that evening and did a lot of reading yesterday. It was a pleasant way to spend another stay-at-home weekend.

The cats are having a fine time of it. Poseidon enjoyed checking out the box their food came in.

We have to hide the bag because, eventually, he’ll become interested in the plastic and begin to chew through it. He’s a continual piece of work. But the box proved a good distraction for putting the food away in a closet that he will sprint toward should the door open at any time, day or night.

Phoebe had a nice night of it. This is comfortable.

She stayed like that for more than an hour.

I’m back to running, after a six week layoff. I’ve decided to concentrate on pace for a while, so I’m working on bringing down mile times. Today was my fourth run back and I’ve chipped away 35 or 44 seconds from that first run, depending on which of the two equally suspect apps you prefer. I bet, now that I’m writing these numbers out, that I’ll hit a wall later this week, but everything feels pretty good so far.

I’ve no illusions of ever seeing any of the actually respectable times of my youth. Not that youthful anymore, after all. But I’m just in the top quartile for my age group, and today’s pace puts me in the top half of the 17-21 cohort.

The biggest differences being they could probably breathe when they were done and they’ll be able to move tomorrow. It’s sometimes an open question these days.

I walked by this little turtle right after my run.

He wasn’t especially happy to see me, but we’ve only just met. So I took a quick picture and let him go on his way. You don’t disturb turtle buddies when they are on a mission.

Jul 20

Wild carrots

There was email and a Zoom meeting and a look to the weekend, which would be nice enough, a change from the week, but it will look like all of the recent weekends. It’s a weird experience.

The stasis.

I’ve stopped looking at various social media platforms for related reasons. I’ve long since quieted most of the wacky people, but now you can live vicariously through the photographs of others and wonder what that’s about. Shouldn’t you be inside? Should I be out there?

It all varies based on locales and your circumstance and how you choose to see the moment, which is much longer than a moment.

Maybe that’s what it is. This moment is very long; I am getting a little fidgety over it and it’s really just getting started.

Also the blog is suffering. The poor, long-suffering blog is suffering. We’ve got a nice enough house and we’re enjoying warm weather but there’s only so many times you can tell the same story about walking down the hall to the home-office. (I flipped my desk around last week, and I didn’t tell you about that, dear reader. It makes for the third office move since the spring. I’m considering a fourth.)

I’m going to have to get back into some hobbies or find some new thing to learn. These are tense times, indeed.

Went out for a run today. It was my third run of the week. My first week running in a few months. Even though I’m running a mile at a time, we’re still calling it a run. I figured I’d do the shorter distances to get the times down and so far it’s working!

I found a bit of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) after my little jog.

You can eat them. The flowers are battered and fried, but don’t eat too many leaves. No idea how many is too many. The leaves can also give you blisters. And the plant has been used medicinally and as a dye.

Some places look at is as a beneficial weed. It can help with tomato growth and lettuce production. It attracts the right kind of insects in some areas. Some states list it as a nuisance or noxious weed. It’s native to the area where the Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountains bump into one another. It moved to Europe and southwest Asia between the 11th and 14th centuries. It made it’s home in China, India and Japan in the 14-17th centuries. It’s naturalized in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

I took a picture of it just to have something to put in this space for the day, but I’m getting an education. You can learn all about it, all about it, here.